Writing Your “Expert” Book Yourself vs. Hiring a Ghostwriter
(Note: The following is an excerpt from the book, “Why Every Speaker Should Have an ‘Expert’
Book” by Alan Stransman, available as a free download at: http://www.expertbookcreation.com.)
I began my professional career as a teacher of English at the high school
level. Prior to that, I taught a first-year English course at the University
of Western Ontario, while I was studying for my Master’s degree in
As a university and high school instructor, I had a great many students
approach me for help with their essay assignments. I would always
begin by asking them what their essay was about. “Forget about writing
it,” I would tell my students. “Just tell me your essay.”
The response was, invariably, awkward silence.
“Perhaps,” I would say, “you are having trouble writing your essay
because you have no idea what it is about.”
The single, most important piece of advice that I can give to anybody
who is trying to write anything is – make sure you know what it is about
before you try to write it.
If you are considering writing an “expert” book yourself, make sure that
you can “tell” your book either to yourself or to someone else “out loud”
- just as if you were explaining it to the person seated beside you on a
If you can’t do that, it could well be a sign that you need someone to
help draw the information for your book out of your head and get it
down on paper.
That is the role of a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter is, or certainly should be,
a competent interviewer, especially if you have a body of knowledge in
your head, but have trouble organizing and/or articulating it.
Ways to “Write” an “Expert” Book
There are a number of ways to “write” an “expert” book, but the
following are among the most common:
• Write it yourself either at the keyboard or longhand – yes, some
authors still write longhand.
• Record your book, section-by-section, and then have the recording
transcribed, edited and published in book form. (There are many
ways to do this, including using a digital recording device or an
“old-fashioned” tape recorder, as well as online services such as
Audio Acrobat (www.audioacrobat.com). On a personal note, for
my first book, Don’t Let Your Dream Business Turn Into a
Nightmare: A Cautionary Tale for Would-be Entrepreneurs,
(www.mybusinessnightmare.com) I experimented with a voice-
recognition software program in an effort to bypass the writing,
editing and transcription stages altogether. However, I found the
software slow and inaccurate, and I soon abandoned it. A service
such as Audio Acrobat can be very helpful, however, for anyone
who is really more comfortable speaking than writing. Audio
Acrobat allows you record an MP3 file, using your computer or
phone, which can then be transcribed, edited or reworked and
published in book form.)
• Have someone else to interview you, record and transcribe the
interviews, then either edit and publish them in the form of a book
yourself or rework them in book form yourself. Michael Levin,
whom I respect, suggests having your spouse, boyfriend or
girlfriend, a college student or someone in your organization
interview you for your book. If I may say, I think this is a terrible
idea. In my experience, interviewing is a skill that is developed by
repeatedly doing it and not one which can be readily taught to a
complete novice within any reasonable length of time. If you
choose to go the interview route, I would recommend hiring an
experienced, professional interviewer to help you extract the
information for your book, which you will, in turn, use as the raw
material for your book.
• Hire a professional ghostwriter to write your entire “expert” book
for you. And, if you do choose to have someone write your book
for you, make sure that person is an experienced interviewer. I
always tell my prospective clients that ghostwriting is 50%
interviewing skills and 50% writing skills. I also remind them that
we are no longer in high school, and hiring a ghostwriter to create
an “expert” book for you based upon your knowledge and
experience is not cheating. It is simply a good business practice.
Keep It Simple
Whether you write your “expert” book yourself or hire a ghostwriter to
write it for you, keep it simple.
Gregg Habstritt reminds us that “it’s a complicated world and we want
to be the source of simple but powerful results for our clients.”
Your “expert” book is your opportunity to showcase the experience,
knowledge, wisdom, insight and perspective which you have - and
which enable you to solve the problem or problems which keep your
readers up at night.
There is nothing more impressive than a simple solution to a complex
Simplicity is, as the late, great Steve Jobs suggested, ‘the ultimate
Download the complete book at: http://www.expertbookcreation.com.