Is hiring a memoir ghostwriter a good idea?
You’ve lived a life which you feel merits a memoir. Perhaps you’ve risen from poverty to riches, perhaps you have done a “first” and you want people to know it was you, or perhaps you want to celebrate a lost world, a world that have since disappeared.
You try your hand at writing but you realize that it is too difficult and that the learning curve is too steep. Perhaps you have begun to write and are lost in the shaping of an interesting memoir. (What does it mean to “shape” and “pace” a book?) Or, perhaps you could write the memoir but you are so busy with other things that you hardly have the time to devote to it.
These scenarios call for a ghostwriter who can guide you through the process and write the book as per your instructions. But, you don’t feel comfortable with that. You have reservations.
1. Isn’t hiring a memoir ghostwriter a bit like cheating?
Not any more than using a carpenter to build your house or a plumber to install the bathroom. The ghost writer you hire will be a person who has written many books and is not at all daunted at the prospect of organizing 60 , 70, or 80 years of scattered, incoherent, and sometimes contradictory material into a coherent memoir that your kids and, if your ambition goes there, the general public will want to read. You are hiring all sorts of professionals to do work for you. Why not a ghostwriter to create a great memoir? our life deserves it.
2. How can another person possibly get my life right?
The ghost writer does not go off alone to make up a life for you out of whole cloth. You and your writer chat regularly (usually it is by phone), and you send all sort of notes (perhaps your previous attempt at memoir writing are included), photocopies of letter and journals, photos. You line up interviews with people you know so that the ghostwriter can get another view of you and your life. You receive drafts of the memoir and review them carefully. Your ghostwriter and you then make alterations. (The work is never done until you say it is done.) When I wrote the life of an engineer, I warned him that I was not an engineer. After I had been working with him several months, his comment to me was “Are you sure you are not an engineer? How do you know this stuff?” I didn’t know “this stuff.” He knew it. I merely listened and gave it back to him. That’s what a good ghostwriter can do. Most of us are highly intuitive.
3. Isn’t hiring a memoir ghostwriter too expensive?
It can get expensive, that’s for sure. But, so can a house, a car, a second home, a trip to Hawaii, a new kitchen. In the end, a ghostwritten memoir is a legacy that you leave to another generation. You either value it as much as a new bathroom in your home or you don’t. It comes down to what you prefer to leave to another generation. I have worked with millionaires and with working-class people. Values are not reducible to money.
Should you hire a memoir ghostwriter?
If you have a story, if you do not want your story to be lost and if you cannot for whatever reason do it yourself, the wisest decision you could make is to hire a memoir ghostwriter.