In non-fiction interviews, you should get solid input and real-life examples from the author you’re ghosting. But are you really, or are you just getting observations they’ve been trained to utter?

Upper echelon folks—CEOs, non-profit officers, hospital executives, and government leaders—are schooled for media interviews by their communication directors. Lesser-known folks may think they’re supplying tons of wisdom when, in fact, they’re simply regurgitating common utterances.

Here are five quick tips, whether you’re just getting started or are an experienced ghost who needs a reminder:

  1. Research— Go through your author’s material to determine what statistics, timelines, and other details are readily available. Most of your information will come from the interview and follow-ups, but doing research beforehand will give you some direction when developing your questions.
  2. The best interview option—Before the pandemic, sitting face-to-face helped a ghost expand on author insights. But now, you have to decide which telecommunication option(s) works best. Maybe your client isn’t comfortable with Zoom or other video options. Try—it’s free, easy to use, and records clearly. After you’ve chatted this way a few times, maybe the client will feel comfy enough for video.
  3. Ask about future meeting options—One of these days we’ll get out of the house, but may still have to maintain social distancing. Find out if your author would eventually like a face-to-face. And where? At a nice restaurant? Who else will be there? Because the recording device may be a little further away than in pre-Covid days, meeting in quiet a place (not cafes, for instance) would be better and more effective to get a clearer recording
  4. Start slowly—Don’t pounce right in with probing questions to get ground-breaking insights. Start with ice-breaking niceties (How was your drive? Geez it’s hot! How’s your family doing these days?), then move to the basics: Where and when were you born? What drew you to XXX industry? Why have you worked in it for XXX years? (Or how did you segue from XXX to YYY biz and what insights did you bring when you moved?) 
  5. Now, be brave—The series of questions above help you start digging. WHY did they change industries? Maybe you find out that Daddy forced them into the first and it practically crippled them, so they found another way. Start pushing, but don’t bash people over the head with premature demands for intimacy or vulnerability.

Here’s a hot tip: if you’re writing a memoir but your author doesn’t go through deep emotions sometimes, you haven’t yet reached the core of their story. 

Good non-fiction interviewing is the ability to glean unusual blurts, tears, smiles, and other great emotional insights.

For a solid overview on a career in ghostwriting and to see if it’s right for you, sign on to the next Intro to Ghostwriting class that begins June 15th via

Want folks you know to learn more about becoming a ghostwriter? Tell them the next Intro to Ghostwriting class that begins June 15th via is an easy way to discover if ghostwriting is what they want to do.