In Dealing with Swindlers and Devils: Literature and Business Ethics, Christopher Michaelson writes that ‘One instrumental function of literature is to imitate life, thereby expanding our vision beyond our parochial interests; to see literature merely as a didactic instrument to serve business interests misses the point that literature should expand understanding, our sense of what in addition to business is interesting and valuable.’
I wanted to write a series of articles for business owners who are interested in writing books. I have always been drawn to the entrepreneurs of the world and in a way, I consider myself one and due to the stresses and the challenges of running a business or company, we often find ourselves too close to the action – too connected to the drama, when all we need to do, sometimes, is sit back – and write about it. I have begun to talk to business owners about why a ghostwriter is so fundamental to their business. To begin, the question here is wrong. Why is a book important to a business? This is the question. But to avoid disappointment, please turn back now if you are expecting a blog about ‘business’ perse. This article reminds us what words can do, what books can do. Understanding this helps encourage us to write our great works. So… why a book?
Preceding this question, what is a book? An object with images in it (letters) that link to form words. What are words? What is communication? Understanding what is happening when we are writing a book will help shine a light on these fundamentals, because what happens to a person when they write one can be nothing short of magic. Sometimes that’s what businesses need… a touch of magic. Sometimes what business owners are in need of is a new best friend. As Groucho Marx said, ‘Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.’
A book is somehow able to do the unusual, considering it is mostly just a two-hundred gram object made of wood and ink, yet one that is strangely capable of propelling an idea or business forward like a springboard, or a nexus that all things benefit from travelling via. Throughout history, there has been nothing more influential to the ways ideas propel, civilisations change, ideologies springboard, than to document and shape a thesis, a presentation, a story – into a book.
Words are charged with information. In advertising, words are often projected out through different colour patterns, geometrical orders and vibrational tones to deliver even more charged meaning, and because there is nothing more powerful than this combination or order, words have strength ten times, if not a thousand times more than any gun or sword. Because ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, books do change cultures, ways of thinking, societies and science. If we are still in question about this, and the power of the word, we may wish to consider just some of the books listed by British poet and critic Martin Seymour-Smith in his work entitled conveniently for this discussion: The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written: The History of Thought from Ancient Times to Today. The Hebrew Bible, the Kabbalah, Analects by Confucius, the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, for example. Think of these books in terms of all that they are – words on a page. Think of what they have done. Here are a few more:
A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson, the Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer, On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton, Quotations from Chairman Mao by Mao, The Quran, Relativity by Einstein, The Republic by Plato, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Interpretation of Dreams – Sigmund Freud, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, The Logica of Scientific Discovery by Karl Popper, and the New Testament.
Our list can go on and on: Mein Kampf, Der Judenstaat, the works of Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Sophocles, T.S. Eliot, Jane Austen, William Blake, Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Voltaire, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Victor Hugo, Oscar Wilde and Geoffrey Chaucer. There is a reason advertisers and propagandists have used words more than any other thing to change minds and influence. If we were to begin listing some of the most influential people to have ever lived: George Washington, Adolf Hitler, Ghandi, Jesus of Nazareth, Joan of Arc, Aristotle, Napoleon, Lenin, Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, we will find that these men and women spoke with words, or wrote with them.
Having something to say is one thing. Being a wordsmith is another. Different people are gifted with different things and life to me is about realising what your asset is and then being a steward to it. In helping you get there, a book will. A writer therefore will. There is though, still a sheepishness surrounding the idea of working with a ghostwriter – as if you are somehow incapable of writing the book yourself – perhaps you are – to the competitive standard your audience needs. Perhaps you are not, perhaps you are not meant to – perhaps your strength is in explaining, and talking, compared with the writer – who I regularly mention, ‘is meant to be read, not seen or listened to’. Not only is it in fact the right decision for you, your business and your customers – throughout history it is what has been done. Ghostwriting, a modern day thing it isn’t. Ghostwriters have always existed. Mozart was paid to ghostwrite music for his patrons and in the early days of Hollywood, Grandfather of Film Music David Raksin worked as a music ghostwriter for Chaplin. Everyone it seems has their part to play in the production of anything meaningful and for the business entrepreneur to take on the mammoth task of writing and creating his own book, is often too much, and ‘one day’ is where we heel. And tomorrow never comes.
For me, there is nothing more cathartic, more empowering, more grounding, enlightening and transforming than creating a book. It’s why I do what I do. But it’s not something everyone can do or has the time to do now – especially in the modern world – and this might very well be an inconvenience considering how necessary a book would be to your progress, or to mark progress.
It may also be worth thinking about what a good ghostwriter can bring to the table. In the same way a structural engineer will understand the architectural trajectory of a building, or the way it is sometimes necessary to bring a solicitor into a project at the start of a project (as that structural engineer), a ghostwriter is the same. He or she will help align you. It could also be that you are not meant to begin the work on the project for quite some time, or that you don’t want your ghostwriter to be typing away just yet – but that you want them to be there, observe, attend your lectures or begin research into your business. If you can, hire them now on a ten hour a month contract – it will be worth its weight in gold when you come to pressing that start button. You see, you have been writing your book your entire life. For this reason, it is going to be difficult for a writer-for-hire to slip into your life and see the world through your prism from day one. Yes, your writer should be able to shape-shift quite fast, but if you can do it, bring them on board now. Let them surround themselves into your world for just two hours each week. Because of the way a writer can absorb and observe, they will be digesting more information than you realise. We are sponges, whether we like it or not, we absorb, and then we radiate onto the page.
The book will hold an almost magical ability to do things you did not consider it capable of when you began – it will become like a magnet that all roads lead to, then like a prism – it seems to re-order everything in your life before blasting it out again. This is where the word propel comes in. Picture a prism and the speed in which light travels out of it. Your book is your prism. Propel your idea, your vision and your ideology… your philosophy, your mission. Place it through the prism.
Incorporating a creative person to structure, and then grade your words with a tone that is relevant and significant among your competition is key to balancing your manuscript into the right way: one that has a rhythm from page to page while at the same time is written in the right style. It doesn’t feel like an actual book, just a series of articles is not something anyone wants to experience when reading, especially considering how many blogs and articles people read day to day. Ghostwriters differ to copy writers in this way – we are not in the game of web content and writing ads for shampoo companies. We write books: memoirs, autobiographies, contemporary travel fiction, gothic horror, screenplays, poetry, business books. We study literature, world history and geopolitics. We are polymaths who are able to enter any field of work, understand the area you have pulled us into quickly, and then help lead you through the process of story telling. Medicine, law, herbalism, Paganism – you decide. We can go anywhere, and write anything. A ghostwriter can help take information that you are likely too close to, and help soften it into a language that anyone can digest. Within that content – you are leading and directing forward your writer so to guarantee a successful trajectory of your thesis, and like a ghost – he/she is always there, yet invisible in your background, unseen by others but there for you to e-mail, text or call for at out of office hours. ‘I need someone to say it like this’, or ‘this in the best way for them’, is what has brought you to this page. The inner compass is directing you to your first book. You’ll want it to be a good one. Hire a professional and capable ghostwriter. Interview us all: the chemistry is key. After that… let them lead you.
Committing to a project like a book does something incredible to the psyche. Suddenly, all of the experiences and interactions you have, or have had can now be channelled into a journey. If for no other reason than to get organised, a book is fundamental to your business. Everything else is a bonus. It will organise your vision, it will organise your routine, it will umpire and mediate you along, honing your potential – and all it is, is a little book, the size of a small step, but one loaded with incredible power. Step onto it, have it catapult you into the next epoch.