How to Ghostwrite a Memoir? (Step-by-Step Guide)

Last Updated on April 30, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

As a ghostwriting memoirist, the art of capturing an individual’s life story entails more than just jotting down events that transpired throughout their existence. It is about distilling their experiences into a compelling narrative that reflects who they are and what they stand for. Writing a memoir requires patience, empathy, and meticulous attention to detail.

Like piecing together a puzzle, every step taken in crafting this type of book must be carefully thought out and executed with precision. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,’ so too does writing a memoir require taking small steps towards achieving the final product.

In this article, we will explore the seven essential steps required in ghostwriting a memoir, from understanding your client’s vision to creating engaging content that resonates with readers.

#1 Find Your Subject

Finding a subject for a memoir is the first and crucial step in ghostwriting. It requires careful consideration, research, and networking skills to identify potential clients who are willing to share their stories.

Interview techniques play an essential role in selecting the right candidate as it provides insight into their personality, storytelling ability, and motivation behind penning down their life journey. Memory triggers can also be used during the interview process to stimulate the recollection of past events that may have been forgotten over time. This helps in capturing vivid details that make for compelling reading.

Finding the hook is another aspect to consider when choosing a subject for a memoir. A good hook captures readers’ attention and keeps them engaged throughout the book. It could be anything from overcoming adversity, achieving success against all odds, or living through extraordinary circumstances.

Research sources should not be overlooked while searching for a suitable subject for ghostwriting. These sources include local newspapers, community organizations, or even social media platforms where individuals share their stories publicly. Establishing a personal connection with your client is vital because it leads to trust-building and fosters open communication between you both. Consequently, this makes it easier to capture their voice accurately while writing their memoir without compromising on authenticity or integrity.

As you embark on finding your subject, remember that each person has a unique story waiting to be told; by following these steps mentioned above, you will increase your chances of finding someone whose story resonates deeply with people’s subconscious desire for innovation – inspiring them towards greater heights!

#2 Sign A Contract

Before embarking on the journey of ghostwriting a memoir, it is essential to sign a contract with the subject. The negotiation process for this agreement can be complex and requires careful consideration of legal considerations such as payment agreements, confidentiality clauses, and communication expectations between both parties.

When negotiating terms, it is crucial to ensure that all aspects are covered comprehensively. Payment agreements should address not only the amount but also when payments will be made and how they will be processed.

Confidentiality clauses must clearly outline what information cannot be disclosed and under what circumstances. Communication expectations should specify how often meetings or updates will occur, preferred methods of contact, and response times.

Once an agreement has been reached, it’s time to put everything in writing. This step ensures that everyone involved understands their obligations and responsibilities throughout the project timeline. The written document serves as a reference point in case any disputes arise during or after the completion of the project, making it an indispensable tool for ensuring accountability from start to finish.

By signing a contract at the beginning of your memoir ghostwriting journey, you are establishing clear boundaries and expectations between yourself and your client while protecting both parties legally. It’s critical to approach this aspect thoughtfully to avoid potential issues down the road; doing so sets the stage for success by creating a solid foundation upon which future work can build without unnecessary distractions or complications arising later on due to misunderstandings about what was agreed upon initially.

#3 Extract The Background

To properly extract the background of a memoir subject, extensive research into their life is necessary. This begins with researching sources such as public records and news articles to gain an understanding of the context in which they lived.

Interviews with the subject are also crucial for gathering information about their personal experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Identifying themes throughout the subject’s life story is essential to creating a cohesive narrative. These themes can range from family dynamics to career paths and everything in between.

Analyzing context, including cultural and historical events that may have influenced the subject’s life choices or experiences, will help paint a vivid picture of their story. Establishing a clear narrative voice is key to ensuring that the memoir accurately reflects the subject’s personality and perspective.

As ghostwriters, it is our responsibility to portray their voices authentically while remaining objective and impartial. By utilizing these techniques during the extraction process, we can create a compelling memoir that captures not only the facts but also the essence of who this person truly is.

#4 Create An Outline

Brainstorming ideas is the first step in creating an outline for a memoir. This involves gathering all relevant information that will be included in the book, such as significant events, memorable moments, and important people.

The next step is to organize these thoughts into categories or themes that will serve as the foundation of the story.

Once you have brainstormed your ideas, it is time to flesh out the details. This means expanding on each idea and adding more depth to the story. You can do this by incorporating sensory details that paint a vivid picture for readers, including dialogue that adds authenticity to your characters’ personalities and motivations.

Deciding on themes is another crucial aspect of outlining a memoir. A theme provides structure and direction for the book while also providing insight into what readers can expect from reading it.

Creating a timeline is also essential when writing a memoir so that you can keep track of major events and their chronology within the narrative.

By following these steps, you can create an effective outline for your memoir that not only helps you stay organized but also ensures that your story flows seamlessly from beginning to end. With careful planning and attention to detail during this process, your finished product will be engaging, compelling, and full of innovative insights into your life’s journey.

#5 Write The First Draft

Metaphorically speaking, writing a first draft is like laying down the foundation of a house. You need to ensure that you have everything in place before moving forward with construction. Brainstorming ideas and organizing them into an outline will greatly assist this process. The first draft sets the tone for the entire memoir; it is where you get your initial thoughts onto paper.

To begin, focus on character development as it plays a crucial role in any narrative structure. Your characters should be multidimensional, with each having their own motivations and goals. This ensures that they feel real to readers and allows them to connect emotionally with the story being told.

In addition, incorporating sensory details can help bring scenes to life and make them more engaging.

Another important aspect of drafting is overcoming writer’s block solutions when encountering obstacles. One tip is to set aside dedicated times for writing each day or week, which helps establish a routine and makes it easier to start working once those scheduled times arrive.

Additionally, taking breaks regularly can help avoid burnout while also allowing space for new ideas to develop.

In summary, writing the first draft requires careful planning through brainstorming ideas and organization tips while addressing potential roadblocks such as writer’s block solutions. Make sure that your characters are well-developed and include sensory details throughout the narrative structure to engage readers effectively. Remember that every great memoir starts with just one word placed carefully after another until it becomes something extraordinary – then let the journey unfold!

#6 Revise And Edit

After finishing the first draft of a memoir, it is time to move on to the revision and editing stage. This step is crucial in ensuring that your manuscript is polished and ready for publication. While revising may seem daunting at first, there are several tips you can follow to make the process more manageable.

Firstly, take some time away from your manuscript before starting revisions. This will give you fresh eyes when you return to it later. When revising, look out for common mistakes such as grammar errors and inconsistencies in tone or voice. Hiring an editor can also be helpful in catching these types of errors.

Another important aspect of editing is receiving feedback from others. Share your work with trusted friends or writing groups for constructive criticism. Consider their suggestions carefully and implement changes where necessary.

Finally, polishing techniques can help take your manuscript to the next level. Pay attention to sentence structure, word choice, and pacing. Make sure each chapter flows seamlessly into the next and that transitions are smooth throughout the entire book.

In summary, while revising a memoir may seem like a daunting task, following these tips and utilizing professional help can ensure that your final product is a polished masterpiece ready for publication.

#7 Wait for The Publishers to Do Their Thing

With the manuscript completed, it is now left to the publishers to carry out their roles in bringing the memoir to life. Publisher expectations are high as they strive for a perfect outcome that would appeal to readers and meet market demands. This process requires patience from all parties involved, as there may be several revisions before reaching a final version.

Marketing strategies come into play at this stage, with publishers exploring different channels of promotion such as book tours, social media campaigns, and other publicity efforts. The collaborative process between the ghostwriter, author, and publisher is crucial here because everyone’s input can lead to more effective marketing outcomes.

Payment arrangements must also be agreed upon at this time since the publishing phase marks an end to the writing process.

The wait for approval from the subject can take some time but is necessary before proceeding with publication. A wise ghostwriter understands that while awaiting approval may seem frustrating, it affords them enough opportunity to get everything right.

In conclusion, allowing publishers ample time underscores professionalism and shows dedication toward ensuring a successful outcome.

What Are The 5 Parts Of A Memoir?

Once the manuscript has been submitted to publishers, it’s time for ghostwriters to shift their focus and start working on the actual content of the memoir.

One key aspect that must be considered is the theme of the book. Choosing a focused theme allows readers to connect with the story at a deeper level and provides direction for the narrative.

Another crucial element in writing a successful memoir is incorporating emotions into the storytelling process. Memoirs are all about capturing real-life experiences, which means they’re often filled with raw emotions that need to be conveyed effectively through words.

Using specific techniques such as vivid descriptions, sensory details, and evocative language can help bring these emotions to life on paper.

Characters and dialogue play an essential role in making a memoir feel authentic and relatable. By creating three-dimensional characters that readers can identify with or aspire towards, writers can make their stories more meaningful and memorable.

Additionally, using realistic dialogue helps create a sense of intimacy between readers and characters by showcasing how individuals interact in different situations.

As important as themes, emotions, characters, and dialogue may be in crafting an engaging memoir, the structure also plays a significant role in keeping readers invested from beginning to end.

Organizing memories chronologically within a timeline helps guide readers through the writer’s journey while providing context for each event described along the way.

Finally, reflecting upon past events throughout various stages of life creates opportunities for growth while adding depth to personal reflections shared within this literary form.

What Should Be Avoided In A Memoir?

Memoirs are a powerful form of storytelling that can evoke strong emotions in readers. However, there are certain pitfalls to avoid when writing a memoir. Making any one of these mistakes could jeopardize the integrity and authenticity of the story you want to tell.

One common mistake is fabricating or exaggerating events or details for dramatic effect. This may seem harmless at first, but it can lead to ethical concerns if readers discover that what they thought was true actually isn’t. It’s important to remember that your goal as a memoirist should be to share your story truthfully and honestly.

Another mistake to avoid is allowing fear of persecution or disagreement to prevent you from sharing sensitive details. While it’s understandable to feel apprehensive about revealing controversial topics, hiding personal biases will only serve to distance yourself from your audience. Remember: vulnerability breeds intimacy.

Finally, failing to ground your memoir in reality by being factually inaccurate or dishonest can severely damage its credibility with readers. When ghostwriting a memoir, it’s essential to verify facts and double-check sources before publishing anything publicly so as not to betray the trust placed in you by the author who has entrusted their life story into your hands.

A well-written memoir requires careful consideration of all aspects of the writer’s experience while also respecting their privacy and sensitivity towards potentially painful recollections.

  • Writing without sincerity
  • Overgeneralizing experiences
  • Avoiding difficult subjects
  • Ignoring accountability

Memoirists have an incredible responsibility–to themselves as well as their audiences–to write authentically and ethically while still moving them emotionally through innovative storytelling techniques. Steering clear of common mistakes such as fabrication, avoidance tactics on controversial issues like sexual orientation or politics, and grounding stories in factual accuracy instead of crafting narratives around preconceived notions about other individuals’ lives –this involves taking rigorous care during research phases along with keeping track notes—will create engaging tales capable impact upon those willing listeners intrigued enough delve deeper into personal experiences.

How Long Does It Take To Ghost Write A Memoir?

Ghostwriting a memoir can be a fulfilling and exciting project, but it also requires dedication, commitment, and patience. One important aspect of ghostwriting is understanding the timeline involved in the process. In general, it takes six to eight months or longer to complete a memoir book from scratch. However, this timeline may vary depending on various factors such as the length of the manuscript, research required, and client availability.

When starting a new project with a client, ghostwriters need to establish clear timelines for each stage of the writing process. This involves setting realistic deadlines for submitting drafts and receiving feedback from clients. It’s essential to maintain open communication channels throughout the entire process to ensure that both parties are satisfied with the progress made at each stage.

While there are several benefits of being a professional memoir ghostwriter, including building your portfolio and gaining exposure in the literary world – there are also some challenges associated with this profession. The most significant challenge could be working with difficult clients who have unrealistic expectations or cannot articulate their ideas clearly. Additionally, ghostwriters need to invest considerable time into researching and getting into their client’s heads before they start writing. It’s crucial to understand that ghostwriting is not just about putting words down on paper; it’s about capturing someone else’s voice authentically while telling their story in an engaging way.

TimelineClient satisfaction depends on how well the writer captures personalities/voicesProject delays may occur due to unexpected events like illness or emergencies
ProcessGhostwriters get opportunities for creative expressionClient satisfaction depends on how well writer captures personalities/voices
CostGood pay rate per word/pageChallenging negotiations regarding pricing terms

In summary, becoming a successful memoir ghostwriter requires dedication, creativity, and strong communication skills. While it can take up to eight months or more to complete one project successfully- the outcome is a significant investment in both time and money. By following some simple tips, such as setting realistic timelines and maintaining open communication with clients, ghostwriters can overcome the challenges associated with this profession while enjoying its many benefits.


Ghostwriting a memoir is an intricate process that requires patience, sensitivity, and the ability to extract and craft someone else’s story.

The first step in writing a memoir is finding your subject and signing a contract. Once you have secured these, it’s time to start extracting the background of the person whose story you will be telling.

Creating an outline helps establish the main themes and structure of the book before starting on the first draft. Waiting for publishers to do their part can take some time but once they are done, there are five essential parts to include in every memoir.

It should be noted that honesty is key when ghostwriting a memoir as readers expect authenticity from this genre. One interesting statistic shows that ghostwriting a memoir can take between 6-12 months depending on several factors such as length, complexity of the story, and availability of information.

Avoiding cliches or over-dramatization is also important so as not to detract from the genuine emotion conveyed by the author’s words. Overall, ghostwriting a memoir is both challenging and rewarding work that allows us to preserve important stories for generations to come.

Further Reading

  1. How to Find a Ghostwriter for a Book (Who’s Worth the Price)1
  2. Ghost Writing and History2
  3. The Truth About Ghostwriting3
  4. Five questions to ask references of your memoir ghostwriter4
  5. Ethics of Ghostwriting5

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