How to write a memoir #2

December 21, 2017
krauserpua

Part One is here

Should I use a ghost writer? you may ask. Let’s try to answer that by seeing what it entails. The short answer is: if you are cash-rich and time-poor then maybe.

First let’s be clear what “ghost writing” in this context actually means. I’d say the traditional layman’s conception relates to books “written by” a celebrity, about a celebrity, and then foisted upon the mass market. Think of Katie Price, or David Beckham, or One Direction. These people are obviously not doing any of the writing themselves. Instead, a professional ghost writer will do a ton of research from publicly available sources (especially newspapers) and then book a number of interviews with the aforementioned celebrity to fill in all the blanks and get a few stories and quotes. They’ll take their fee and maybe not even put their name on the book.

You won’t be getting that service. Your life isn’t documented in the public record and you’re not famous enough to be sufficiently profitable for that kind of effort to be spent on you.

Katie Price - You Only Live Once - Book Launch

“I did it all myself. Yesterday”

How about all those Amazon millionaires who use ghost writers? Somebody will set up a strong brand (e.g. a Twilight rip-off sexy vampire series) and then hire other writers to produce content to be sold under the brand-owner’s name. A big-budget version of this is the Tom Clancy series. Well, they are basically a marriage of a brand with an army of content producers. Not really suitable here as you don’t have a profitable brand.

Worse yet, they are fiction. A fiction ghost-writer can work to a story outline and generate their own content based on imagination. You are writing a non-fiction memoir that sticks to facts, more like journalism. Thus the ghost writer can only write based on information that you personally tell them. You need to be far more intimately involved. You can’t just point them in the right direction and wait for them to return with a finished manuscript.

So here we have a problem. We don’t have the budget for a proper ghost writing service, and we are writing about subjects that need massive personal input. It’s not really outsourced. So, what are the options? You need to think of ghost writing as a labour-saving device, and then ask yourself whether the cost justifies the amount of labour saved. I tried different writers and set-ups for my memoir series and this is what I learned.

1. Cost
The going rate on contractor sites such as UpWork is $1,000 for 70,000 words. There’s variation around that but not much. This immediately puts the ghost-writing option into a whole new category of financial commitment compared to doing it all yourself and spending just $100 on cover and layout. You can’t save costs by going brown because writing a book requires a native English speaker of decent IQ and Western cultural understanding. Filipinos and Indians can do cheap art design effectively but not cheap writing of PUA memoirs.

2. Advertising
Let’s say you use UpWork. Take great care in being very specific in what you want. Tell them your target wordcount (70k-ish), the subject matter (sexcapades), your timescale (a few months), what you can give them as information (blog posts, diary, skype calls), and maximum budget (£1k-ish). Also tell them it’s squalid unPC stuff so anyone with moral or ideological reservations should not apply. That’ll save outrage and wasted time later in the process.

Writer 1

Pay a little extra if you find this guy

3. Selection
You need to be sure of two things in particular. Firstly, that the writer isn’t a prick [1] who will waste your time or get on your nerves. You’ll be spending a lot of time talking to them so reject proposals from anyone who gives you a gut feel that they are a bad fit. Secondly, you need to know they can actually write. Ask for portfolio samples and ask pointed questions about their writing process. What do they expect from you in order to work? If still unsure, suggest a smaller fee for a single chapter and then decide whether to hire them for the whole book afterwards [2]

4. Process
The usual process is to collect together all of your material into one document. So if you’re a blogger that means copy paste the posts in chronological order for the period within scope. Also plan out the book structure and discuss themes you want to cover. Decide the characters who are in the story. Expect one or two Skype calls to hammer out this pre-production. After that you’ll be having Skype chats every week or so where you tell your stories and they ask questions. They’ll record you, and I suggest you record it too as a back-up. At some point they’ll tell you they have enough to work on and they’ll disappear for a while until ready with a first manuscript. Perhaps you’ll have the contract set up with a few milestones to deliver on and pay.

That sounds great if you’re not much into writing but have a bit of cash lying around and a good story to tell, no? There’s a problem though.

There’s a reason these guys are on UpWork charging just $1k for such a huge amount of work. They just aren’t very good. Some are decent writers but they are hobbled by a structural problem: a memoir should be in your voice, with your humour and insight, and they are not you. I found this out the hard way with volume one of mine, Balls Deep. My ghost writer did as well as I could reasonable expect of her but I just wasn’t happy with it. I knew I had to re-write the whole thing. I soon came to the following conclusion [3]

Ghost writing is simply an intermediary step in a writing process done mostly by you

Think of it this way…. You do the first twenty percent of the work, by formulating the stories in your mind, deciding how the book will be, selecting content, and putting it all together into a plan. You also do the last fifty percent of the work in rewriting everything line-by-line multiple times, adding more content, editing and preparing for publication. The ghost writer does about thirty percent.

The ghost writer is the person who helps you over the hump, in filling all those blank pages with something you can work with.

For many of you, including myself, that’s a valuable service. Hiring a ghost writer ensured I got the books done. It allowed me to be more ambitious in scope. It gave me a weekly discipline of Skype chats and furnishing extra documents to ensure the project moved relentlessly forwards [4]. It gave me a sounding board to whom I could tell my stories and get feedback.

Deplorable Cad

Would you believe it? ANOTHER memoir!

What a ghost writer won’t do, in our circumstances, is write the book for you. Which is probably precisely what you’d hoped they’d do. To summarise, there are two scenarios in which I’d recommend using a ghost writer:

  1. You have a pile of money, are itching to tell your stories, and are happy to spend an hour or two talking into Skype video chats each week for a few months. You can pretty much delegate everything and have a nice little book for posterity.
  2. You like writing and want to focus all your energy on the high-value bits while delegating some grunt work to someone else. You are happy to rewrite the manuscript several times to get it into your own narrative voice [5]

There’s also a lower-budget halfway house which is to tell your stories into your smartphone’s audio recorder, get the files transcribed [6], and then go through the transcript yourself turning it from speech to prose.

IN OTHER NEWS: The first copies of Daygame Infinite were delivered today so I suspect the word-on-the-street will begin now some people have seen it. I’m interested to know your feedback. Inquiring minds can buy it here.

[1] I had one silly bitch waste months of time through her procrastination and avoidance before I fired her.
[2] Personally, I’d recommend hiring a writer who makes her living writing smut for Amazon, like vampire porn or a writer who specialises in biographies.
[3] Which was confirmed with the next three volumes.
[4] Otherwise I’d have likely just played video games and the projects would’ve stalled indefinitely, like Jimmy’s book.
[5] I don’t mean to be rude to my ghost writers. This was still very helpful. But if you compare my final manuscript with the ghost writer’s turn-in you’re basically reading two completely different books.
[6] Going rate is $20 per audio hour, so total price will be around $250. That’s how I started Adventure Sex.

26 Comments

  1. interesting how you refer to ghost writers as a ‘her’. isn’t a women going to be looking at this stuff like an alien trying to comprehend whats going on? eg Approach Anxiety … what the hell is that? [Have you read 50 Shades? Female smut writers understand seduction. There are other reasons I tried a woman first. Think them through and see what comes to mind. K.]

    • No, I cant say Ive read any female smut. Good area to get into though if you want to pay your bills as a writer. I’ve always bought books which I thought expanded my mind in some way but maybe Ive been missing a trick.

      Why did you try a women first? You were trying to get a bang through this process? lol

      • Maybe her opinion on what happened can give K a different perspective that could improve his model.

        Most men are clueless about seduction so probably 1) it will sound cliché and hollywood-like, 2) if she says “I don’t think is what was happening here, it was that” it could give him a new insight into the seduction process rather than get into a circle-jerk of confirmation bias.

        That’s IMO. [Correct. Additionally, a bird won’t white night and try to tone down the action. K.]

  2. Ghost writer will never do, only time ghost writer is partially useful is when a celeb too dumb to write something herself wants to cash in just a little bit more on her fifteen minutes of fame.

  3. I’m calling you a passive aggressive twat.

    Making two comments in a row which pretend that you didn’t read what you are responding to.

    • If you want to write a memoir that has meaning and soul you gotta do it yourself, not offload to a ghost writer. My comment was for the guys deliberating about writing one over the winter months. It wasn’t a response to Nick.

      I already said his offer to guys writing is a great one.

      “You comment was an insult, blah blah blah” — I’m sure K can handle it.

  4. Hi K
    I wish I could be your balls..So then I can hang out with you all night (and bang girls)

  5. K!
    I don’t care what those people saying about u… I think youre cool

  6. Hi K!

    what do you recommend for this guy? what would your advice be for him?

    I guess he is doing chad game [In the unlikely event those aren’t paid girls, like most prank videos….. He’s a soyboy. Zero sexual threat. They are nice to him because he’s like a yappy puppy and they don’t want to kick it. He’s a long long way from getting hot girls for free. He’ll need a few years in the gym, a few boxing matches, and TRT. He’s probably better off just coming out as gay. K.]

    • oh, shit so this is a playlist on youtube…. but after the girl you will see Tommi’s infields.. [How about you stop, think, and then put your thoughts into a single comment? K.]

    • Which guy?

      All the guys were weirded out (surprisingly, but I understand, it was way outside their reality a girl can hit on them), and the only guy who was receptive is clearly gay.

      • So its video 21. There isn’t any masculinity at all in behaviour. He’s young and living in the US so its understandable. However what I found curious is that some girls still showed flickers of interest despite him acting like a space cadet. I suspect just by the direct approach and his good looks (putting aside his gangly frame). Strong IOI at 1.31 (despite her saying she had a BF).

  7. I’m curious what do you think about this guy?
    Obviously he is lack of any skills but beyond that what would you recommend for him?
    He has a couple of videos like these:
    [No more links to this fag, please. My advice to him is to leverage his 15m subscriber base to find a pretty girl who is soft in the head and willing to date a guy just because he’s famous. Trying to become an attractive man is a MUCH longer harder road for him. K.]

    • This is hilarious, what the fuck are you linking? This is the vevo channel — you know, the music industry’s would-be competitor to youtube from about eight years ago? Vevo.com is the main site, it’s not run by one guy with 15M subscribers. First two videos were some girl trying prank pick up lines and the rest seemed to follow in the same order. If there’s a guy in any of them he’s not doing it as pickup, believe me.

  8. okay, I thought it could be good for analyze something…

    anyway, Krauser, when coming out your book, I cant wait…

    • can you upload something about your talk from the london seminar?

      it would be good in this year, because I’m going to travel a week later and not going to have internet connection to watch videos.

  9. Steve Jabba in a ridiculous compilation 😀
    anyway, what’s your thoughts about the second brown guy?
    he is a smooth motherfucker…. maybe it would be better if the guy start to teasing the girl, for example she is a nerd, too smart, she’s learning too much etc. do you know any good stacking for this girl?

  10. Thanks Nick,

    Once again real value earned by your own experience (time AND money) provided for free to the interested public.

    Just one question: why should I pay the transcription service (250 quid) if iOS/Siri dictate function does this quite well in real time?
    Of course they will record every word on their servers and I didn’t read their GTC whether everything becomes their IP. Or do (you know by personal experience, too, whether) they censor like Twitter? [I never use auto-transcription apps because they force me to speak too slowly and make too many horrendous mistakes. I’d rather save the money and spare myself the bullshit. However, if they can handle your voice and pace, then I see no reason not to use them. K.]

  11. Received Daygame Infinite earlier today. Wonderful read so far, full of insight that I haven’t seen others explore except you. One quick thing, there’s a typo on page 39 in the second-to-last paragraph.

    “Objects have always fallen to earth, but the concept of gravity began when someone created nomenclature it.” (there should be a ‘for’ before ‘it’)

    Something to keep track of for the next edition [Glad you like it. Please give your thoughts in the main discussion thread. I’m interested to hear it. K.]

  12. thanks for the solid advice Nick regarding writing, got an old man nigger story who got into daygame on my to do list to write. will send you a draught ASAP [I look forward to reading it. K.]

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