Posted on Aug 20, 2019 in Editorial.
Andrew Crofts is a world-renowned ghostwriter, and he recently visited LifeBook at our headquarters in Godalming. Andrew chatted with LifeBook founder Roy Moëd about LifeBook’s use of ghostwriters and the autobiography industry as a whole. By its very nature, it is perhaps curious that there could be a world-famous ghostwriter, but Andrew certainly fits the bill for that accolade. The task of ghostwriting for Andrew Crofts is a secretive business, which seems glaringly obvious when you consider the needs of any client who wants to write their autobiography but lacks the writing flair and creativity necessary to make that story come to life.
If you read a few of his reviews, you quickly realise he is a talented writer who can turn a person’s life story into a potential bestseller.
One of the most successful – if not the most successful ghostwriter in the world.
– Claudia Winkleman, ‘The Arts Show’, BBC Radio 2
A hugely successful author … a literary gun for hire.
– Nick Higham, ‘Meet the Author’, BBC News
When it comes to famous clients, he is as silent as Jeeves.
– Sinclair McKay, Daily Telegraph
There are several questions that regularly follow the conversational revelation that I am a ghostwriter.
“Why on earth do you want to do that?” is usually the first puzzled response.
“Don’t you resent someone else getting all the glory?” is the next. “So what famous people have you done?” nearly always has an outing before the listener’s curiosity on the subject is finally sated and one can move on to asking them about their lives (a much more comfortable conversational position for any writer).
The fundamental problem facing any professional writer is finding a steady supply of ideas and subjects so dazzlingly certain to appeal to the book-buying public that publishers are bound to put up huge advances. One answer is to collaborate with other people who might lack writing skills and experience but have all the necessary information.
These people can be celebrities, who are likely to impress publishers due to their notoriety via the tabloids or other media, or they can be ordinary people who have gone through extraordinary experiences. Alternatively, they might be experts in subjects that the public want to know more about.
The main contrast between the private autobiography of LifeBook and the traditional world of ghostwriting is that, although writing skill and talent are still required, the reader audience is radically different.
Every LifeBook allows that individual author to share their life story with their family and friends, and even though it won’t make them famous, it will leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Andrew kindly agreed to be filmed at our offices, and in his chat with our founder Roy Moëd, the finer points of the LifeBook process were discussed. Andrew was most interested in the way LifeBook separates the interviewer from the ghostwriter, as he considers this approach key to telling the story.
Roy explained that each interviewer has been specially trained for their job and is there to help the author relate the stories, not in the quizzing manner of a journalist but rather like a friend who is listening to them. In addition, the interviewer also offers the author companionship. The ghostwriter then takes the recordings gathered by the interviewer and turns them into a manuscript that fundamentally both captures the author’s voice and ensures the content of the story is correct. With the use of digital recorders, scanners and LifeBook’s sophisticated computer platform, the transfer of files and information is easily managed – however, the front end is a very different matter.
“The platform and the process are very strict, but the front end is a human sitting with your mum.”
You can watch the conversion in full in the video below:
Having been a ghostwriter for about 40 years, I first came across LifeBook because I know there’s a huge number of people who can’t afford to go full scale, who aren’t going to secure a big publishing deal with Penguin or Random House. Nevertheless, these people have great stories to tell for their close family, their friends and themselves. I found it very hard to find anybody who could provide a safe home for these potential authors, where the whole thing was mapped out for them, where they could be taken by the hand and guided through the process. Publishing is a jungle for people who don’t know anything about it, so to have a team of professionals whom they can trust is brilliant. I’m not aware that anyone else is doing this.
I wish I had known of a service like this 30 or 40 years ago, when my mother was writing a book about growing up in the 1930s. Like all sons, I took no notice of what she was doing, even though she was including stories and information she’d never before mentioned to me. It was only after she had died that I found the manuscript and I started to think of all the questions I wished I’d asked her at the time. To my shame, it was my cousin, not me, who said, “Let’s make a little book of it.” I wish I had done the same thing for my father as well, but LifeBook wasn’t around at the time.
It was a real pleasure having Andrew with us for afternoon tea and we made sure he had a quick tour of the LifeBook barn, which is the production hub of every private autobiography created by LifeBook.