SNM158: How to Ghostwrite an Amazing Book

Research is the single most important factor when ghostwriting, finding things that the client didn’t even know about himself can be amazing, put on your PI goggles. By digging deep you can find remarkable information.

There are 3 Key Elements to Ghostwriting a great book


I don’t normally take on many ghostwriting jobs but recently really cool options have come my way.

  • Facts, especially while writing a biography for someones life story.
  • Emotion, how you felt and how the audience will feel about the story
  • Structure – the order in which you tell the story.

Context is invaluable


Find context about the persons life, what was happening around the time this person was born? did they go to school with someone famous? or born during a significant time in history?

This will provide great context of the time in which the person was born into and lived in.

Context will make you remember the story better than you remember the book.Click To Tweet

Events of the world, the people around them, the setting, the environment all signify the balance of the piece you’re writing.

Ask Yourself one Question…


Is the journey more important than the overarching message?

Listen to todays episode for my ghostwriting process.

Show Notes:


Key Points:

  1. 3 Key Elements to a Great Book
  2. Research is critical.
  3. We need contrast to appreciate the value of things.

Resources Mentioned:

Books by Jonathan

Most other links can be found in my TOOLBOX


Send in your questions to podcast [at] servenomaster [dot] com











Read Full Transcript

How to ghostwrite an amazing book on today's episode plays episode brought you by convert kit to find out how convert it can help you grow your business save money and increase relationship with your email list head over to\convert kit right now are you tired of dealing with your boss you feel underpaid andunderappreciated if you want to make an online fire you start living your retirement dreams now then you come to the right place welcome to serve no master file for review learn how to open new revenue streams and make money while you sleep presented life from a tropical island in the South Pacific by best-selling author Jonathan Gray now your host things a little different today I'm on the road again that a town with my wife working on a bunch of paperwork passport for her marriage visa for me and that means I'm in a different location action hotel room right now recording I also have a little bit of cold because of going in that air conditioning and in and out of meetings and all these cover offices the last few days I have a little bit of runny nose so sorry there's little difference in the background noise maybe it sounds better and it's actually treat Terry and talk about some really exciting stuff with ghostwriting I don't take a lot of ghostwriting products but lately a couple of really cool ones come my way that I've chosen to accept and as I'm working on them and put them together I thought will be a great opportunity to share with you exactly how you can replicate my process for creating a great book and there are really three key elements to a great book there's the facts the things that happened when you're writing a biography for somewhere to store someone's life you start with the facts on top that you have the emotion the emotional journey how they felt about the story how you feel about her and really how the audience will feel about the story when you start to put those two things together the final thing that is the structure of that's the series of events you tell how are you and organize your chapters and we seen some great moves the password stories are told out of order and sometimes when you're writing a book the best way to open that book is was something out of order we start with the lead up to the final movement that we jump back in time to the beginning of the story research process is absolutely critical finding things that the client didn't even know themselves can be amazing when the projects working on right now is a historical book what's one's father and so I dug really deep and effective newspaper articles very old newspaper articles that he and even seen excited about those I found him a new picture of his father by being fast it is with your research by digging really really really deep you can start to find things that are amazing can find these wonderful moments were very fortunate to this particular person was famous enough to newspaper all the time excellent writing something about me they would struggle to find me in the newspaper only been a couple of small newspaper articles certainly never been in the cover of a section we want to begin to find those events as well as the things that happen around them what's really great about beginning to find the story for someone you can find the context when were they born was happening the world was having Rosalie turned 18 there's been a great deal of war's last hundred years given World War I and World War II the Korean War Vietnam the first war in the Middle East the second one lists all these are major events that can color someone's life so we want to look beyond what's happening in the moment and look at the context of the things around them did they go to school somewhat famous today work with someone famous with a influenced by someone famous we want to go and find that narrative that provides the context for the world in which the person lives
when you're writing a fiction book you want to create the world around them one of the greatest fiction books all time is called dune and is read that book falls in love with it written by Frank Herbert he never finished the series his son took up the mantle and wrote the rest the books in the series are actually all amazing is a wonderful series and the reason it's so powerful is because he creates such an in depth world and universe it creates religions and cults and political affiliations in science and the weather all those pieces are put together so well you remember the world even better than you are in the story within the book we are working on a project for client happens in the real world you want to understand the world which they dwell if someone was born for the 1960s that was before desegregation the group in a world in America were black and white people were separated and that can be a very poor part person some story everyone understand that part of the story to tell the part of the story some group behind the Iron Curtain their stories different one my friends when my great friends in life she was 13 when the Berlin wall fell down her childhood is something that most people don't understand in the West she was never allowed to leave her neighborhood the thought of traveling 1 km from the apartment which was born was unimaginable to her she's just walking down the street expecting to have a paper check over and over again if she walks too far try to go to the others in the park. Her and also this is too far and I luckily where you're from one of the main tenets of dictatorships in most communist states fall dictatorships that you don't believe he wants out no one living inside of common is a member wants to stay there was one Aleve that's why they always have strict border controls letting nobody leave their more worried about letting you believe in letting people in do not worry about immigration pumps is known wants to go there you never hear about the Soviet Union have any keep all the people out there trying to flood their for their amazing bread lines she grew up in that world she grew up in a world where the notable she was very little should open world where you're not allowed to have your own place even if you get married only we can move at your parents apartment as we have your first child so people rush to get pregnant soon because it's the only way out and that colors many of her decisions if you understand some of past if you understand the environment in which they started where they were fortunate you can miss some key parts of the story now want to talk about events in someone's life I'm in the particular things that person to have the events of the world the people around them the setting the environment sometimes a great biography is filled with specific events that happen and influence a person or that they were at a little bit but we want to move into the things the person did that were great or that were significant in that matter to this person or that affected the rest of the decisions and finding those pieces is very critical and sometimes it comes from talking to the client talking the personal growth writing with and telling the person story of course you can ask a few key questions with eachproject I work on there's a different bout sometime soon once a really great educational book with his flickers of their personal story within it and sometimes they want more heavily biography fuel storage that's really much more about the story of them were the main character in the book that is about a teaching lesson they want one teacher and principal and so we want to find those events in someone's life that are interesting enough to engage you I worked very hard in each of my books to fill them with the most interesting stories the things that will fit the lesson of that book could also be very interesting I finished the final edit for control your fate a few hours ago before I went to
sleep last night and I sent it off to the editor and I also sent off to the guy who will hopefully write in Florida very excited about that as is going to that book in all the stories haven't heard before most all of them are totally new stories that happened to me that from my real life but their key lessons that match the message of the book so we have to determine when creating a book whether the overarching message is more important of the journey is more important control your fate each chapter teaches a different small lesson different technique for helping you take control of your life so has small stories that support that lesson for this ghostwriting project of most school for any project is a single overarching message and were much more engaged in the journey of the story the third and final element is the emotion of the story and this is so critical this is where many people struggle we want to have a singular emotional journey in fiction we often start off with a flaw what's wrong with this person how can they overcome it person is a believe in himself Dumbo working for the journey finding his father so that the end he can fly and finally realizing does need the feathering fly without it is enough confidence compose the story of an elephant with no confidence it's tempting to start a biography or story about someone making them sound perfect with the start of perfect there's nowhere for them to go now sometimes your book will start with an emotional hook we are start telling that big story that can be and that's okay you can wait until chapter 2 to introduce the flaw or the person's weakness and weakness is not bad weakness means there's room for growth right now for my new book I just after all my research for this new ghostwriter practice and a bunch of questions the class a without this we think about that when you find that starting point once we have the right pieces of very close to having all pieces of the story and just getting little feedback making sure is happy for them on the track will move into the next part of this which is where really choose where does the story start any commute story that starts with someone whose big Slavic challenges around them stop at them it can be that they started behind the Iron Curtain were limited in its story of overcoming that challenge because at the big enough problem that it's interesting to watch rebel against it and to make it a stronger store you can restore someone who doesn't follow the rules or who's always close to getting in trouble for pushing the envelope when they grow up behind the Iron Curtain when the group and restrictive environment we remember the stories that are emotional remember the stories that hit us in the heart whether it's because of the passion of the person deposit motion or to negative emotion one of the books I like to talk about the lease is called a bridge to Terabithia them in a movie of it I'll never watch it I member this book because notebook is any cried more it's one of the most devastating books of a red and ice such an amazing story in such a painful movement in the end sorry for spoiling the book for you if you haven't read it it's been out for years and years I read 30 years ago but the movies been up for almost a decade but I remember the emotion as it kicked me in the heart and even now tearing up a little bit and if you can hear it over the audio but just thinking about what happens in the book devastates me you can tell a very passionate and powerful story emotion is a key part of a lot of our modern storytelling most modern romantic comedies are heavy in the motion most dramas are heavy in the emotion this is whether a great deal of movies out lately what characters have some devastating illness there so many movies lately where two beautiful love one of them of cancer are one of the past the germ disease we can't leave the house to make another one a person in a bubble movies and I remember watching the boy the
bomb went off little kids I've Artie seen part of that story or someone is limited by that particular disease but as with anything in idea they always circle back and I have a new idea in that setting just like they've made dozens of movies were someone's under house arrest and then realizes their neighbor is a murderer of some kind how many of those movies have they made we started that I can think about the top of my head repeating stories get away with it when they have a strong emotional journey this is where people have the hardest time in nonfiction fact this is where I struggle the most of each of my books the first and final chapter have to have the beginning and end of the emotional journey I often split a story in half with the beginning of the show that you feel engaged enough to want to finish it when you're writing a book about someone else when you're doing ghostwriting project those of the key elements beginning than emotional journey having in pieces that are interesting enough to people stay engaged characters don't have to be perfect it can be tough when you're writing a book about someone in someone's family don't make the person sound awful we want to do is make them sound human if we go to foreign write a book if I read about how my dad's a superhero it's hard to make that engaging if I just talk what I was always been perfect will always be perfect where's the interesting part of the story I love British TV shows because there are real stakes I watched today another of those big action comic book movies that they have and watching the whole time it was very hard for me to care because there's no stakes now they tried to generate stakes by killing character which is an old old plot device every movie about a cop their partner dies from time to be seen that movie this is the one where the person the warrior and the person training them dies and is for secrete the motivation and didn't work for me because watching scene after scene with his characters fighting against drawings when someone's fighting against the CGI creation it's hard for you to care you know the humans always gonna win there's no real stakes they try to do it in Echo squad movie suicide squad if you watch that movie I did apologize for that they introduce a character called climber or super rope and I forget the guy who can climb anything big is the guiding climb anything in the killing within 30 seconds to go see anyone can die and take notice that is of a character than anyone ever heard of it does demonstrate real stakes in a try to create real emotion by crating real estate since one of the big problems in this type of moving its part why people get burned out on them because you don't care bozos can win and it's fun but there's no emotional connection one of the great biographies that I read is 800 page biography of Patton in a movie out of it and at the beginning it talks about certain things about him that were great and it goes into all the things about them they were terrible Pat was an unbelievable general an unbelievably terrible politician they made him for the exact name for it like the vassal or the senator lick the boss of North Africa conquered North Africa at the beginning of World War II when he won his first campaign terrible mistake he began to make huge political mistakes and very regrettable once hid noisy we was doing politics they finally figured it out sent him into Europe and he basically conquered Europe very close to on the for English you probably hate me for saying that but man talk when unstoppable general he was really great at one thing but that's what makes the book feel so real when they don't know I'll show you what's wrong so that you believe more and what's right and creating a balance is of course something that comes from more scale but when you have a flaw when you can demonstrate real stakes that's what the book becomes powerful in
America we have a problem with our cinema we like and armor television shows we never want there to be the possibility that the main actor lost part of it is that we always look at the money and weight moves televisions or shows me about how much money can I make in the main character is often the draw the main actors to draw for the finance and that's the problems with the structure of American cinema because it means many characters can never die and that means nothing feels real as much as it's exciting and I love watching every season of 24 and I do recommend 24 is one of the best ways to learn about cliffhangers you know going in that there seven seasons that show that even though he faces 24×7 different crises he will never die even when you see scenes where he's killed he comes back to life evenly see scenes where he is captured and shipped off to China to be tortured for years no backed episode one of the next season in that small piece hurts stakes at any other character that shows fair game that does make a good that's one of the reason that shows great that even though the main character can be touched anyone else is fair game and I can tell you who lose that that is one of the great things about that show so you have all these things where there's no stakes was an emotional journey we don't have any flaws we don't feel engaged with that we don't remember them very well we don't watch them over and over again, put movies struggle with this part because they are thinking about I would make seven more moves of this character there thinking about all these other moves they want to make and that's why those movies are becoming very similar were always either seeing this couple character shop in the World War II or World War I try to create this villain we know those movies and when others were sanded don't go too far down the path of talking about just movies and things but I want you to get a feeling for the importance of stakes and emotional journey that seems someone has a flaw it lets people know you're honest I use to read Rolling Stone magazine ice to really like looking at their album reviews and is this one a while ago for that magazine basically turned into garbage but at one time it was a very respected rock 'n' roll magazine and you can watch their fall from grace is first used to be larger than other magazines that had to switch to be in same size now I'm not even sure if they do print edition now if you read Rolling Stone it's mostly political articles were them falling for hoaxes in writing but things never happened and then getting sued for millions of dollars for slander libel Rolling Stone magazine now is known more for their inability to fact check than they are for the rock 'n' roll but when I grew up the covers of the magazines were seminal they were amazing covers of amazing musicians and I reuse read reviews and then one day I read a review album that everyone knew was terrible it was another Yoko Ono out I don't know why anyone pretends their music is good I do know anyone who's ever liked her music computer Japan it was a fantasy all Japanese but no one actually likes music I've never been with someone turned on the oak on the CD this is the current tenant album after John Lennon died so this is late 90s an open room for Megan he gave it five stars or four stars I saw this good review and I said what I heard the song and it was off what awful like pain flecked with someone smashed pots and pans with a hammer with very discordant very painful to my ears wasn't just bad music was off and they were this glowing review and I realize that the person who wrote the review had no integrity they root positives for everything and even stronger version of this age to Rita some DJ magazines that would review nukes short songs coming out and I looked one time at every single song they reviewed at five stars and I said I'll never read this magazine
again if you won't give a bad review your good reviews mean nothing the person who complements everyone the comments have no meaning if you won't ever give bad feedback and your good feedback has no variance has no meaning if it rained every single day we always be sad it was sunny every single day we never seen rain some would have less of an impact we need contrast to appreciate the value of things when you can have an element of your story we start off pointing out the flaws and somewhere the challenges that are facing when they finally overcome them has more meaning that's what is critical when you're telling your story to find that journey be willing to push the envelope a little bit now every part of this story of these books when working with the ghostwriting client essay is okay for me to tell this part of the story or here's how want to tell it it's important to show and humanize you or the personal writing about that element creates a greater book but we do want to make sure that we respect the opinions and feelings of the person working for of course that's the balance the challenge of ghostwriting if I don't do a lot of ghost writing projects let's person running out his amazing ghostwriting project and work out right now the main character so good the person writing that is so amazing the things he accomplished her unbelievable that I want to put my name in the book I want to have it no written by so-and-so and ghostwritten by Jonathan Greene I'm excited about the character that much that would love for you to see this look on the listings of other books have done okay with all that that's something for you to think about we can get project or so excited about to see the greatness there as you working on writing longer books is work on becoming a better author sometimes when you take ghostwriting jobs to keep the war chest filled up that's absolutely fine actually love ghostwriting I like doing and working on several new ghostwriting project now is all really exciting and interesting and benefit my family helping to rebuild the finances that went through all his medical challenges last month so really helps take a couple of fast cash projects and the fact that I'm excited about that and think of you, really really well create that perfect balance so near writing your books whether to go try to project or something else remember you want to find those key events the world in which the person was born in which they did their great things than you want to choose the right events and like to talk about not every book needs to be 800 pages like Patton let's double the length of any my book double the long book and find an emotional journey find that challenge the overcome show the story of someone starting someone finishing somewhere that's where you create an amazing book and death petticoats] apps the chance to thank you for listening to this week's episode serve no master make sure you subscribe so you never miss another episode will be back tomorrow with more tips and tactics on how to escape that reference head over to serve no now for your chance to win a free copy of Jonathan's bestseller serve no master all you have to do is leave a five-star review of this podcast see you tomorrow you just listen to another amazing episode of the serve no master podcast make sure to subscribe we back tomorrow with another amazing episode

Jonathan Green

Living the dream on a tropical island, Jonathan is the author of Serve No Master and the host of the Serve No Master Podcast.

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