Why do entrepreneurs hire ghostwriters?

In my career to date, I have headed one of the world’s largest retailers, founded one of the hottest fintech companies in the UK, built leading businesses in the fields of construction, insurance and FMCG from the ground up and even taken a regular TV slot as a serial entrepreneur advising start-ups. OK, this is not entirely true. But I’ve helped pen the books for the accomplished entrepreneurs who did all of these things.

The obvious question and one which I am often asked is: if these people are so accomplished, why didn’t they write their own books? Why did they call in a ghostwriter? First and foremost, because they simply don’t have the time. If you are working an 80-hour (plus) week transforming a business sector, this doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for book writing. It takes time to write a good book too. I’m an experienced writer, with more than 50-books under my belt and yet it still can take me up to six months to complete one. That is planning, writing and editing full time too, not just when I can squeeze in a few hundred words. It would be ludicrous to suggest that any of these entrepreneurs take six months off to write their own stories. Where is the value in that? They are much better off focusing on the day job.

The assumption that just because an entrepreneur has transformed their industry and built an extraordinary business it therefore follows that they can easily write a brilliant book is a little linear too. These undoubted skills don’t automatically translate into a talent as an author who is able to tell a compelling and readable tale. And, even if they do write well, they may be too close to their story. A ghost’s skill is to be able to stand back, look at all the elements of a narrative and to structure it in a way to grip the reader. That’s not always easy to do when you have lived through every moment. There is a tendency to hold on a little too tightly to elements of the experience which might not necessarily resonate so much with a reader. A ghostwriter takes a broader perspective, using data and research to back important points. This is essential to make a book look balanced and informative, rather than overly (and off-puttingly) promotional to the entrepreneur whose name is on the cover.

Something a lot of entrepreneurs don’t necessarily realise is that they make things look easy. Sure, they’ve worked all the hours and overcome all the challenges, but they also instinctively know how to quickly adapt, anticipate and fill a demand. They are used to making things happen. Ask them to describe how they did it though and that not quite so easy. When everything comes naturally, it is not that simple to articulate. Again, a ghost can help to unravel the true story.

Employing a professional ghost is a guarantee that the book will be written too. I have worked with many entrepreneurs that briefly juggled with trying to write their own books while also running their business. Surprisingly enough, the book took a back seat every time a new challenge came up. Result: the book never developed past a few pages and I received a phone call inquiring about my ghostwriting services. If you are wondering how much time an author (that’s the entrepreneur) needs to devote to telling their story to a ghost, allow no more than 30 hours for interviews, spaced over a series of days. That’s a fraction of the time required to write a book from scratch.

Something else that the experienced ghost brings to the party is, well, experience. If an entrepreneur is using a book to reinforce their brand, they need it to stand out from all the other business books in the physical and online bookshops. The business book market is a crowded one, and, whatever the profession, there are many books about it, all jostling for position. There is little value in an entrepreneur joining the clamour and shouting largely the same thing. They need to present a different type of story. This is where ghosts come into their own. Through research and a carefully structured interview process, they will uncover what is unique about an individual entrepreneur. They’ll take what the entrepreneur knows, together with their achievements, and will present it in a completely new and highly readable way. A ghost will filter all the elements of the story through the angle that has been agreed, positioning the entrepreneur as the absolute leader in their field. No need to read all those other books piling up on the bookshelves: this is the definitive guide. After that, no other entrepreneur will be able to say they created that way of doing things. This entrepreneur did it and they wrote the book.

Why doesn’t an entrepreneur wait until they retire and can spend a productive and enjoyable year writing their ‘how I did it’ memoirs? Apart from anything else, wouldn’t a nice trip down memory lane round off their achievements? That is one way of looking at it, yes. The other way to view it is: the time to write this book is when an entrepreneur is in the thick of it, building their transformative business. A well written book is a powerful way to establish an entrepreneur’s position at the forefront of their industry and build up their personal and business branding.

Some entrepreneurs might find it tough to delegate such an important task as telling their story. The nature of entrepreneurialism is that the person in question would have conquered multiple roles: they’ll have pitched to investors, potential employees and customers and assumed a range of positions in their company to make sure things happen. Writing a book is just another in a long line in challenges, right? It can be: but ultimately an entrepreneur is the absolute expert in their field and so is a ghostwriter. To get the best possible book, it makes perfect sense to match the two disciplines. The collaboration will vastly elevate the entrepreneurial wisdom via the writing.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of working with a ghostwriter, or would like to discuss your book with me, please feel free to drop me an email here: teenalyons@professionalghost.org