Part two of my interview with Ginny Carter, the Author Maker. You can read part one of the interview, here.
Abidemi: How do you, in terms of the interview process, whether you’re coaching or ghost-writing, nail down the interviewee, so to speak? Because in the beginning, they’re are all gung ho, and then, actually nailing them down to do the interview is a different matter entirely, because some people find the interview process quite traumatic. And others are not, by nature, talkative.
GC: One of the things I do is to get people to give me examples, feelings, and colour they like. So you know the – part of what people want to have in a book – even if it’s a business book, is to get some sense of the person, of the author themselves, the person that they are. Because it adds personality, flavour, and interest to it. Some people are open and happy to talk about themselves and other people less so; I have to be sensitive to how much they want to reveal.
Abidemi: What would you say are the key skills that somebody needs to succeed as a writing coach?
GC: I think you have to have a mixture of sensitivity to the individual. And the fact that it’s their book. It’s their way.
GC: And at the same time, a little bit of a kind of steely edge to you to say, ‘Right, we need to get the next chapter written next week’.
GC: And the ability to give tactful feedback to what can be a very personal process. Because sharing with somebody your first draft, that can be a little bit sensitive and, if you spend a lot of time writing something, you need feedback. That’s what they’re paying me for. They’re not paying me to say ‘Oh yes that’s so lovely’. I mean, otherwise you know there’d be no point, would there? So I have to give honest feedback.
At the same time, I have to respect the fact that they’re not a professional writer, like I am, so, inevitably their first attempts are gonna be more faltering. But what is really lovely is when I can see through the feedback I’m giving them. I can see how they’ve improved along the way. And it’s lovely when you work with somebody who really takes on board your feedback.
GC: It’s really down to me to help them to express themselves in the way that they feel happiest with, and the way that’s gonna work for their readers.
Abidemi: Because they have to be authentic.
GC: Oh, completely, yeah.
Abidemi: Two questions, the first one is, why would anybody need a ghostwriter anyway?
GC: Well I guess, nobody needs a ghostwriter in the sense that they could always write anything themselves. And well, it’s just like anything in life, isn’t it? We could all do everything ourselves. I kind of always liken it a bit to when we ordered some IKEA furniture not long ago and they all arrived. There was just boxes and boxes of this stuff, and I just said to my husband: ‘How are we ever gonna find the time to construct all of this stuff?’ And he was like ‘Oh no, it’s okay. We’ll find the time.’ And I’m like, ‘No, we’re gonna be here every weekend for the next three months trying to do all this. It’s just ridiculous’. So I persuaded him to get a handyman in.
Of course, you know, we could’ve done it ourselves. But, we had this guy who was an ex-shop fitter, so he knew what he was doing, and he did a fantastic job. That meant that we could enjoy it, and we’re already using it now, instead of just waiting for endless kind of structures of just ‘flat B’ to ‘shelf C’ and all that, and end up probably getting divorced at the end of it. So, you know, to me that’s a lot of what it’s about. As a business person, where is your time and energy best focused? Is it on writing your book, or is it on doing all the other things in your business that, only you can do? And, that’s really where a ghost-writer comes in.
Abidemi: I was just wondering, if I was in business and I wanted to write a book, how would someone like you help me?
GC: I think the first way I help is by being objective. So, that’s where my strategic input is really valuable. And, when I start talking about the goals, the audience, the central scenes, content, structure, and so on, often, these are things that people haven’t really kind of really given much thought to. They’re just thinking of what they want to say, really. And I can also help them negotiate the publishing maze as well. I mean, I’m not a publishing expert myself, but, in the fact that I work with books, I do know quite a few publishers. I’ve also absorbed a lot of information about this over the years, and so I can help them make decisions about whether they want to go with a traditional publisher or whether self-publishing is the best way for them. So that they find very helpful.
GC: So that’s really the beginning of the whole thing. And then, as I go through, I will interview them for the content, so all they do need to do is talk, really. They just need to talk at me, and then I do all of the hard work with the writing, and we go through two or three drafts for the whole manuscript. So, they really just need to talk and read and feedback.
GC: Which is a huge time saver for them. But also, their book gets written to a high standard as well, and they won’t need to invest in a lot of editing help and so on, because I bypass some of that process.
Abidemi: So in terms of your availability, how quickly can you get the process started with a new client?
GC: Well, it kind of varies. It really depends on how booked I am. I know that sometimes, people find that difficult, because once they’ve got an idea in their head ‘they want to write a book’, they want to do it right now .
Abidemi: I know, right?!
Abidemi: And if it’s a coaching program, it’s very personal. So, you have to basically develop a programme for that person, and I think people don’t really realise that. They just think, ‘Yes, she’s going to start working with me’. You’re an individual and the reason you go to a writing coach or any kind of coach is to get that kind of personal service. And the person is not going to create that in a day. It takes time.
GC: I know. And what I would say, is that writing a book is a long term project.
GC: It involves you and your thoughts developing as time goes by. And actually, once people start to calm down a bit and realise ‘No, it doesn’t actually have to be now’, they would rather work with the right person and wait for them to be available. That is much better than rushing off to somebody who, you know let’s face it, if you’ve got the ability to start tomorrow then, you’re probably, – I’m not saying that that person isn’t any good, because I was like that when I first started, you know, I had availability, just like everybody does at the beginning. But actually, if you want to work with somebody who has experience and specialises in the kind of book that you want to produce, you realise that it is okay to wait until they’re available. And actually there are a lot of things that they can be doing while they’re waiting, to get themselves ready for their book. So I give them things to be getting on with. If it’s a coaching client, it would be about developing their writing skills, and, if it’s a ghost writing client, I’ve written an ebook which helps people to plan the start of their book and how to get started with it. So, yes, there’s lots of things they can be doing while they’re waiting.
Abidemi: I’ve got one last question. What was the reasoning behind Marketing 21, your business name?
GC: I get asked that question, often. The reason was when I originally started out as a marketing consultant, I wanted a business name with marketing in it and my house number is sixteen, so I thought of various names, then I was kind of thinking of Marketing 16. Well, that sounds a bit juvenile, so what about Marketing 21? It sounds a little bit more sophisticated. And then, funnily enough, after I’d said it out loud, a friend of mine said, ‘Oh, how clever, Marketing 21. It’s like 21st century, isn’t it?’ and then I’m like-
Abidemi: I see…
GC: So, you see, there’s nothing mysterious about it, at all. And once I went into the ghost-writing, I called myself the Author Maker and I did register the domain name-
Abidemi: I saw that.
GC: -and I was gonna change it all, but I thought it would get kind of confusing to change to a new website, so I just decided to stick with what I have . The Author Maker does redirect into Marketing 21 so, that’s it – no mystery behind the name, Marketing 21, I’m afraid!
Abidemi: Thank you so much, Ginny. It’s been lovely interviewing you.
GC: Oh, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity.
Ginny Carter, The Author Maker, is a business book ghostwriter, book writing coach, and author. She’s on a mission to transform established speakers, coaches and consultants from ‘experts’ into ‘experts-with-a-book’, through the publication that grows their reputation and expands their business. Do you want to get seen, heard and hired with your own book? Claim your free guide Picking the Killer Idea for Your Business Book.