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How to write a memoir #2

krauserpua
December 21, 2017

Part One is here

Should I use a ghost writer? you may ask. Let’s try to answer that by seeing what it entails. The short answer is: if you are cash-rich and time-poor then maybe.

First let’s be clear what “ghost writing” in this context actually means. I’d say the traditional layman’s conception relates to books “written by” a celebrity, about a celebrity, and then foisted upon the mass market. Think of Katie Price, or David Beckham, or One Direction. These people are obviously not doing any of the writing themselves. Instead, a professional ghost writer will do a ton of research from publicly available sources (especially newspapers) and then book a number of interviews with the aforementioned celebrity to fill in all the blanks and get a few stories and quotes. They’ll take their fee and maybe not even put their name on the book.

You won’t be getting that service. Your life isn’t documented in the public record and you’re not famous enough to be sufficiently profitable for that kind of effort to be spent on you.

Katie Price - You Only Live Once - Book Launch

“I did it all myself. Yesterday”

How about all those Amazon millionaires who use ghost writers? Somebody will set up a strong brand (e.g. a Twilight rip-off sexy vampire series) and then hire other writers to produce content to be sold under the brand-owner’s name. A big-budget version of this is the Tom Clancy series. Well, they are basically a marriage of a brand with an army of content producers. Not really suitable here as you don’t have a profitable brand.

Worse yet, they are fiction. A fiction ghost-writer can work to a story outline and generate their own content based on imagination. You are writing a non-fiction memoir that sticks to facts, more like journalism. Thus the ghost writer can only write based on information that you personally tell them. You need to be far more intimately involved. You can’t just point them in the right direction and wait for them to return with a finished manuscript.

So here we have a problem. We don’t have the budget for a proper ghost writing service, and we are writing about subjects that need massive personal input. It’s not really outsourced. So, what are the options? You need to think of ghost writing as a labour-saving device, and then ask yourself whether the cost justifies the amount of labour saved. I tried different writers and set-ups for my memoir series and this is what I learned.

1. Cost
The going rate on contractor sites such as UpWork is $1,000 for 70,000 words. There’s variation around that but not much. This immediately puts the ghost-writing option into a whole new category of financial commitment compared to doing it all yourself and spending just $100 on cover and layout. You can’t save costs by going brown because writing a book requires a native English speaker of decent IQ and Western cultural understanding. Filipinos and Indians can do cheap art design effectively but not cheap writing of PUA memoirs.

2. Advertising
Let’s say you use UpWork. Take great care in being very specific in what you want. Tell them your target wordcount (70k-ish), the subject matter (sexcapades), your timescale (a few months), what you can give them as information (blog posts, diary, skype calls), and maximum budget (£1k-ish). Also tell them it’s squalid unPC stuff so anyone with moral or ideological reservations should not apply. That’ll save outrage and wasted time later in the process.

Writer 1

Pay a little extra if you find this guy

3. Selection
You need to be sure of two things in particular. Firstly, that the writer isn’t a prick [1] who will waste your time or get on your nerves. You’ll be spending a lot of time talking to them so reject proposals from anyone who gives you a gut feel that they are a bad fit. Secondly, you need to know they can actually write. Ask for portfolio samples and ask pointed questions about their writing process. What do they expect from you in order to work? If still unsure, suggest a smaller fee for a single chapter and then decide whether to hire them for the whole book afterwards [2]

4. Process
The usual process is to collect together all of your material into one document. So if you’re a blogger that means copy paste the posts in chronological order for the period within scope. Also plan out the book structure and discuss themes you want to cover. Decide the characters who are in the story. Expect one or two Skype calls to hammer out this pre-production. After that you’ll be having Skype chats every week or so where you tell your stories and they ask questions. They’ll record you, and I suggest you record it too as a back-up. At some point they’ll tell you they have enough to work on and they’ll disappear for a while until ready with a first manuscript. Perhaps you’ll have the contract set up with a few milestones to deliver on and pay.

That sounds great if you’re not much into writing but have a bit of cash lying around and a good story to tell, no? There’s a problem though.

There’s a reason these guys are on UpWork charging just $1k for such a huge amount of work. They just aren’t very good. Some are decent writers but they are hobbled by a structural problem: a memoir should be in your voice, with your humour and insight, and they are not you. I found this out the hard way with volume one of mine, Balls Deep. My ghost writer did as well as I could reasonable expect of her but I just wasn’t happy with it. I knew I had to re-write the whole thing. I soon came to the following conclusion [3]

Ghost writing is simply an intermediary step in a writing process done mostly by you

Think of it this way…. You do the first twenty percent of the work, by formulating the stories in your mind, deciding how the book will be, selecting content, and putting it all together into a plan. You also do the last fifty percent of the work in rewriting everything line-by-line multiple times, adding more content, editing and preparing for publication. The ghost writer does about thirty percent.

The ghost writer is the person who helps you over the hump, in filling all those blank pages with something you can work with.

For many of you, including myself, that’s a valuable service. Hiring a ghost writer ensured I got the books done. It allowed me to be more ambitious in scope. It gave me a weekly discipline of Skype chats and furnishing extra documents to ensure the project moved relentlessly forwards [4]. It gave me a sounding board to whom I could tell my stories and get feedback.

Deplorable Cad

Would you believe it? ANOTHER memoir!

What a ghost writer won’t do, in our circumstances, is write the book for you. Which is probably precisely what you’d hoped they’d do. To summarise, there are two scenarios in which I’d recommend using a ghost writer:

  1. You have a pile of money, are itching to tell your stories, and are happy to spend an hour or two talking into Skype video chats each week for a few months. You can pretty much delegate everything and have a nice little book for posterity.
  2. You like writing and want to focus all your energy on the high-value bits while delegating some grunt work to someone else. You are happy to rewrite the manuscript several times to get it into your own narrative voice [5]

There’s also a lower-budget halfway house which is to tell your stories into your smartphone’s audio recorder, get the files transcribed [6], and then go through the transcript yourself turning it from speech to prose.

IN OTHER NEWS: The first copies of Daygame Infinite were delivered today so I suspect the word-on-the-street will begin now some people have seen it. I’m interested to know your feedback. Inquiring minds can buy it here.

[1] I had one silly bitch waste months of time through her procrastination and avoidance before I fired her.
[2] Personally, I’d recommend hiring a writer who makes her living writing smut for Amazon, like vampire porn or a writer who specialises in biographies.
[3] Which was confirmed with the next three volumes.
[4] Otherwise I’d have likely just played video games and the projects would’ve stalled indefinitely, like Jimmy’s book.
[5] I don’t mean to be rude to my ghost writers. This was still very helpful. But if you compare my final manuscript with the ghost writer’s turn-in you’re basically reading two completely different books.
[6] Going rate is $20 per audio hour, so total price will be around $250. That’s how I started Adventure Sex.

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Post Information
Title How to write a memoir #2
Author krauserpua
Date December 21, 2017 7:13 PM UTC (4 years ago)
Blog Krauser PUA
Archive Link https://theredarchive.com/blog/Krauser-PUA/how-to-write-a-memoir2.27224
https://theredarchive.com/blog/27224
Original Link https://krauserpua.com/2017/12/21/how-to-write-a-memoir-2/
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