It easy to understand that the idea of having a children’s book ghostwritten can be nerve-wrecking. You’ll no doubt have a number of questions:
– Does the ghostwriter know what she’s doing?
– Is she qualified? Is she a skilled writer?
– Does she know the genre you want a book in?
– Is she reasonably priced?
– How long will it take?
– Will she listen to my input?
– Will it be my story?
– And, so on and so on
So, the first thing in the client/ghostwriter process is for you to do your homework. Research ghostwriters who write in the genre you’re interested in.
Check out her website, including the Testimonials Page.
Other important aspects to pay attention to: Is the site active? Is there helpful information on it? Is the writer’s contact information easy to find?
You should even check the copyright date at the bottom of the site.
Next, if you find someone you’re interested in, ask for a phone consult. Or, if you prefer, ask for an email consult. Then ask for writing samples.
If you think you might be interested in working with the ghostwriter and you want to make sure your information (story idea, etc.) is safe, ask for a nondisclosure agreement (NDA).
This is a signed agreement that the writer will provide to let you know that s/he will keep any information you send pertaining to your story confidential.
This isn’t necessary with any reputable ghostwriter, but as everything is online and if you’ll feel more secure, the writer will be sure to comply.
The Freelance Writing Agreement.
Once you get a feel for the writer and you think she’s the real deal, and you’ve agreed upon the fee, and you’re ready to work with her, ask what the next step is. It’s usually a freelance writing agreement.
Interestingly, some clients prefer an agreement, while others could care less.
The freelance writing agreement will detail all that’s involved in the process. It’ll list the price, the payment schedule, the timeline, and other items.
Note: If a freelance agreement isn’t used, I make sure all the details are listed in an email. It’s essential that the client knows what to expect.
So, once all the agreement details are completed, what’s it actually like to work with a children’s ghostwriter?
As I can only speak for my own business, I’ll explain how my process works.
The first thing is to discuss all the details of the story.
I’ll ask for any ideas, notes, outlines, drafts, or other content the client may have. We’ll also discuss what type of story is wanted: funny, a mystery, an adventure, a fantasy, or other. We’ll discuss the targeted audience age and whether it’s to be a picture book, a chapter book, or a middle grade.
Some clients are very particular about the character names, so that may also be discussed.
It’s absolutely essential that I know exactly what message the client wants to convey to the targeted audience. What is the take-away value to be.
Give as many details as possible.
The publishing method.
Another important aspect to be discussed is the publishing method to be used.
If a client is going the traditional route (submitting to publishers and agents), the word count and other aspects of the story must adhere to current publishing standards.
If a client is going the self-publishing route, there’s a bit more flexibility. This does not mean you can produce a substandard product. It means for example, if you want a picture book of around 1200 words, it’s your prerogative.
I’ve had a client who said he was self-publishing, but after the story was complete, decided to submit it to publishers.
The problem is the word count was too long for a picture book and too short for a chapter book. These are the types of hiccups that can arise when the client isn’t sure what he wants.
The beginning of the story.
Once the initial payment to begin is received, I start writing the story based on the information I have.
I keep the client in the loop by sending drafts of the story as I go along. As I send the story, I wait for the client’s input. If it’s good to go, I move forward. If changes are requested, I make the changes.
When the client requests changes, if they are completely inappropriate for the genre, age group, or other, I’ll bring it to his attention and suggest the changes be re-thought.
An example of this: In one story, the client wanted the young protagonist and her friend to play in the street. For the age group, this was completely inappropriate. You cannot suggest dangerous behavior in a young children’s story.
As the story progresses, the client becomes more familiar with my writing style and the tone of the story. At this point she knows whether it’s the story she’s envisioned. And, the process continues. I write and then submit what I’ve done for approval or suggestions.
I revise as we go along.
Once the full manuscript is completed, the client will decide if any changes are needed. Once revisions are made, if needed, it’s on to editing and proofing.
Then I submit a final manuscript to the client.
The time line.
A children’s picture book is usually completed between 1 and 4 weeks. I do allow for up to 6 weeks as you never know.
Chapter books can take 4-8 weeks.
Middle grade can take 2-3 months, but I allow for up to 4 months.
Who owns the story?
You will own the story – you will be the author. You have full rights to the story and can do whatever you want with it. The fee is my compensation for creating and writing the story.
When I first started ghostwriting children’s books, the end was the end of it.
But, as time passed, more and more clients requested additional services, such as: back cover copy, author bio content, formatting the manuscript for submissions, cover letters, query letters, and even basic marketing help.
I’ve even done manuscript to illustrations coordination for a couple of clients. This process includes checking the illustrations for errors.
So, my services also includes these elements to help clients achieve their dream of being an author.
That’s about it.
Keep in mind that every writer may have her own process and particulars, but this should give you a general idea of what to expect when working with a children’s ghostwriter.
MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN
NEED HELP WITH YOUR STORY?
Let me take a look at it. I’m a working children’s ghostwriter, rewriter, and editor. I can turn youR story into a publishable book you’ll be proud to be author of.
Shoot me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org (please put Children’s Writing Help in the Subject line). Or, you can give me a call at 834—347—6700