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ghostwriting a short book

Active Member
Lucie P Member Since: Jul 9, 2018
1 of 7

Hi all!


I am used to ghostwriting articles and posts but this is the first time I get contracted by someone to ghostwrite an entire book. It's not a novel but more like autobiographical work. 

Would any of you be kind enough to share some tips on how to proceed, I can't visit him but everything will go through skype interviews. I just don't know how to structure and start!


Thank you for your help!

Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
2 of 7

@Lucie P wrote:


....I just don't know how to structure and start!

 That doesn't sound like a good basis for contracting to write a book.

Active Member
Lucie P Member Since: Jul 9, 2018
3 of 7

Hi Douglas,


I feel sorry that as a "Community Guru" this is how you are helping others who are trying to improve their skills. If I were to listen to your advice I would be stuck in my comfort zone forever. If I decide to take on this challenge, it means that my client and I feel that I have the potential to do it.

The whole purpose of reaching out to the upwork community is to get support and why not some guidance. I'm sure you also started somewhere sometime back.

So thank you and yes I'll accept the job.

Community Guru
Melanie M Member Since: Jul 13, 2016
4 of 7

Congratulations on landing a big job! Your skills you use for articles and posts can translate nicely into writing a book, but like you say, you will need some structure.


I also made the transition from articles to books. What I do is to have the client work up the outline for me -- nothing formal, but just a list of chapter ideas in order that he wants them to appear. Then I have him add a general synopsis of each of those chapters. At that point, I start fleshing out the chapters one at a time to build the story. I frequently ask the clients questions to add missing details I think are needed or to clarify information I have. When I finish a chapter, I submit it for review so the client can make sure I have created an accurate account of his life. I then make any necessary revisions or additions as per client request. Once he's happy with it, we move on to the next chapter. Usually by the third chapter, the client can predict what kind of information I am going to need and will go ahead and supply it before I start writing.  When we are finished, we then go over the entire thing with a fine tooth comb, looking not only for mistakes but for places where we can strengthen the manuscript by adding or taking away.


I find it helps if I look at each chapter as being a single long article. That way, it doesn't feel overwhelming. It helps if the client isn't on a tight timeframe and doesn't mind focusing on one piece of the book at a time.


I hope this helps!

Active Member
Lucie P Member Since: Jul 9, 2018
5 of 7

Thank you Melanie,


This is actually a really helpful input. I was already starting to build the structure myself based on our interviews but I agree that he should be the one laying out the main chapters and maybe a short synopsis to give me the main guiding principles on each topic. 


Have a lovely day Melanie





Community Guru
Melanie M Member Since: Jul 13, 2016
6 of 7

You're welcome, Lucie!  When doing biographical/memoir work, it's really a collaborative effort between the writer and client. The client actually is a big part of the process, since he has to transfer all that information to a stranger. I tell my clients, if you give me the materials to work with, I will turn it into a beautiful and original creation for you. They realize pretty quickly that the more they give me, the better the end product. So far, so good!  Best of luck to you!

Community Leader
Nick B Member Since: Sep 11, 2015
7 of 7

1) Ask the client if he has read any autobiographies he enjoyed and why he liked them. 

2) Read lots of autobiogs/biogs and model your structure/content on them.