Over the last 12 years, I have worked on book-writing projects with dozens of professionals from all sorts of different worlds: financial, consultancy, technology, fitness, psychology, and academic, to name a few. Months or even years spent writing a book tells you a lot about people and how they like to work. Admittedly, it’s not all been plain sailing, but for the most part, I have been lucky enough to work with some truly brilliant people. Here are three things that some of these professionals I have worked with have in common, making them an absolute pleasure to work with:
They like a blueprint
Without exception, a blueprint or first draft of a chapter is the most powerful way to ignite a client’s enthusiasm for the book. Many of the people I meet have wanted to write a book for years, and now suddenly it’s all real. Those are their words in black and white expressing all the ideas and thoughts they have been holding in their heads for such a long period of time. All of this motivates them into giving excellent feedback that helps to shape the book into exactly the way they want it. Without even knowing it, they become master editors.
They are reliable
A new client asked me very considerately what I expected from him during the book process. Without hesitation, I told him what I needed: reliability! Responding to emails on time, turning up to meetings at the time arranged, and very importantly, paying the agreed amount by the date specified on the invoice. Admittedly, I am a time freak, but I find the process goes much more smoothly when both parties are fully committed to the process. Lucky for me that most of the people I have worked with share my propensity for time-freakery!
They like to go at their own pace
Most of my clients have a good idea of when they would like their book completed, and tend to go at their own pace. This is why it is so important to be flexible as a writer. Recently, I had one client from the consulting world who had chosen the bespoke option to publish his book. Although he seemed very enthusiastic about the process, he was very hesitant about signing the contract. It turned out that he felt too intimidated about the timelines I had specified – he wanted to work at a slower pace. In the end, I created a new contract with a lengthier deadline, which made him feel more comfortable. From that episode, I learned that not everyone needs their book in the rush!
Of course, it takes more than just involvement, reliability, and preferred pace to make a book collaboration a success. Politeness and respect is essential, and a sense of humour goes a long way! The point is there is a big difference between being a professional and behaving professionally. Ultimately, it takes people who behave professionally and harbour a strong work ethic to make the book-writing process a success.
Emma Murray is a best-selling, award-winning author and ghostwriter, specialising in business, psychology and higher education. She also ghosts books, blogs, articles, case studies, and book proposals.