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  • Writer's picturealisonkilian

How to Support an Author In Doubt

Cheerleading is a critical part of the ghostwriter's job.

I ghostwrite both fiction and nonfiction, so the topic areas I cover are broad. I might spend my morning working on a nonfiction book about business leadership—and then spend my afternoon writing a werewolf shapeshifter romance (literally).


The diversity of my ghostwriting work also means that I work with clients of all kinds. Regardless of who they are or what they're writing about, they all share one thing: They experience doubts. It doesn't matter how successful they are or how much money they have or how many awards they've won—as my author partners prepare to share new thoughts and ideas with readers, they inevitably hesitate.


Is this idea fresh enough? Is it interesting enough? Does what I say make sense?


Some author partners try to hide their doubts. Others are more candid. Here's a little secret from the ghostwriter's side: I LOVE it when my author partners share their doubts. I know they're lurking somewhere in there anyway—it's way better if talk about them, hash them out, and find ways to address them head-on.


Many of my author partners feel awkward or sheepish when they share their fears. But this is my opportunity to help them move past those emotional hurdles. My job isn't just about the writing. It's also about the cheerleading. It's about offering support. Writing a book can be a lonely and, at times, disheartening endeavor. From experience, I can confidently say it's better done with a strong and supportive collaboration partner.


How do I support author partners when they're in doubt? Some ideas:

  • Reassure them that fear is normal. People who say they aren't worried are kidding themselves.

  • Untangle the source of the fear. A common one is "I'm afraid we're going to miss something." How can we realistically address this? The truth is, we probably won't fit EVERY point into the book. But we can make a list of the points we don't get to address—and use those for other materials, like blog posts, which can then be used for marketing the book itself!

  • Tell them to talk it out—with someone else. I've developed great friendships with many of my ghostwriting clients. However, I'm never going to be as close to them as their husband/wife/partner, best friend, sibling, etc. Sometimes it's easier for them to share their fears candidly with someone they know more intimately. This often helps them pinpoint exactly what they're worried about, so they can then talk it out with me.

Finally, it's worth noting that I get their fear, because I've published my own works. Putting your words out into the world for others to read (and, let's get real, judge) is scary. Being able to empathize with my author partners helps me support them. It's a part of the job that I appreciate just as much as the actual writing.


I feel very lucky when my author partner trusts me with their fears—and it ultimately results in a better book, because it creates a stronger connection between the author partner and the ghostwriter. And that's what we all want: the best book possible.


Thank you for reading my blog! This is a space where I share personal thoughts — an opportunity for self-expression that has nothing to do with my professional writing. None of the thoughts or opinions expressed in this blog should be construed as anything but my own, nor should they be affiliated with any company or person I contract with or write for.


NOW that that's done... I'd love to hear from you about this blog post in the comments!

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