A Team Approach For Ad Agency Principals Who Want to Write A Book

A team approach can result in an excellent book that tells your agency’s story in a fresh yet authentic way.

Last month my client  Jim Patton and I finished writing the manuscript for his book, Life in the Turn Lane: A Story of Personal and Corporate Turnarounds and the Principles that Make Them Happen, which chronicles what he has learned personally and professionally throughout his career.

Jim Patton is a true American success story. He started out as a heating and air conditioning repairman, learned how to do mergers and acquisitions by reading The Wall Street Journal, and today he runs a firm that buys, fixes and sells distressed manufacturing companies throughout the world. One business publication has dubbed him the “billion-dollar repairman.”

Writing the book was a year-long process, and next week it will finally be released, so we’re both pretty excited to see the final product reach the marketplace.

Recently I was asked how someone else can write (or co-write) a person’s book–as opposed to just providing editing assistance–while retaining authenticity. It’s a good question.

Most ad agency principals have very busy schedules, and the thought of taking time to write a book can be a bit overwhelming. Plus, some people have a great deal of knowledge about a particular topic but don’t like to write and/or are not very good at it.

A good ghostwriter brings new thinking and perspective to a book. He or she should be able to pull information out of the executive, as well as work off of written documents (notes, presentations, articles, etc.) the executive may have about the subject matter.

The writer also should learn as much as possible about how the person thinks and speaks, and try to capture his or her personality on paper. It’s vital that the writer and executive work well together and have good chemistry.

The first step in the process is to jointly develop clear objectives for the book and create an outline of chapters. Once that’s completed, my approach is to supplement existing material with input from the executive through notes he or she puts together on each chapter. We then sit down together to flesh out details, fill in gaps and clarify or expand on a particular point.

With that information in hand, I’m ready to write a chapter draft. The executive edits the draft, and we go back and forth a few times to fine tune it. Then the process starts all over again with the next chapter.

You may also be interested in reading my article: Why Ad Agency Principals Should Consider Writing a Book

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses.


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