Tonight I thought I would share some preparatory steps I took as I prepared to "ghostwrite" my client's memoirs.
The first thing I did, even before accepting the offer, was to research ghostwriting in general, and memoir ghostwriting in particular. From what I saw out there, a lot of writers are ghostwriting a broad range of work from promotional materials to web content to articles and books, you name it. I have done some of that kind of work before, in particular for the marketing department where I used to work and in collaboration with my husband on our website Center For Future Consciousness. But my first well paid freelance gig has given me the opportunity to focus on memoir. Fortunately, I had collaborated with my husband, Tom, on his book Mind Flight, so I had some idea of how I wanted to approach the structure, in this case, straightforward, chronological narrative.
Then, I set myself the task of reading all the books on memoir writing that you see on my side bar and then some, plus general books on writing. I also reviewed memoirs I had liked, and bought some new ones to add to my library. In this respect, an anthology well serves a writer wishing to see different styles in a short time.
Pricing was an issue up front. I went on the web to research what a reasonable fee would be for a year of my time and talked to writing friends, in particular Amanda Owen whose second book is coming out at the beginning of next year under Tarcher, an imprint of Penguin, and Kathy Papajohn who is working on her prequel to her fast selling sci fi / dystopian intrigue novel, Maligned, that she published with Martin Sisters a couple of years ago. Point is: talk to professional writers if you can. They are a wealth of information.
Finally, there was the question of tools and technology. I had invested in a MacBook around the time the offer came to me, but I needed a way to record the interviews. It seemed there must be something better than the old way of taping and transcribing. Here is where apps come in. One called Audio Note serves my purpose. It allows me to record the client and take notes at the same time. I can then refer back to either my notes or, more importantly, the recording and pick it up at any point to catch what I could not type out fast enough. More on the pros and cons of that app in a later post.