When I lived in Chandler, Arizona, I volunteered for Changing Hands Bookstore. In my opinion, it’s one of the best independent bookstores in the U.S. Volunteering had its perks such as receiving a gift card which allowed me to get books or gifts for my families and to meet well known authors and celebrities. There’s nothing like meeting people like Ozzy Osbourne, James Van Praagh, Barbara Park (author of the Junie B. Jones children’s series), Maureen McCormick aka Marcia Brady, and many others. To her credit, Maureen McCormick admitted to collaborating (she had her notes with her) with a ghostwriter on her autobiography Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice. I can’t remember the ghostwriter’s name, but I remember thinking to myself, “Kudos to you for admitting you worked with a ghostwriter.” She didn’t have to mention the ghostwriter but chose to do so. If you’re comfortable with not receiving recognition, you could make $10,000 or more ghostwriting books. Not too shabby!
How to become a ghostwriter
1. Get your ego out of the way. Most ghostwriters also write their material. You can see your name ‘in lights’ by writing your own material.
2. Set your rates. Some ghostwriters earn $20,000 for 60,000 words and some may earn $30,000 for 60,000 words. It’s up to you to ‘set your rates’ and stick to them. No one can tell you what to charge — that’s up to you. If you have no idea what to charge, research the ‘going rate’ for ghostwriting projects.
3. How do you like working in teams? Believe it or not, ghostwriters do work in teams. You may work with one or two ghostwriters on a project. Not only will you work with the client, but you could work their manager and publicist. If you’re more comfortable with the solitary life of a writer, ghostwriting may not be for you. But, if you enjoy and are familiar with the collaborative process, ghostwriting will be a fun opportunity.
4. You are not the client. A client may welcome your ideas, but the direction of the book is up to them. The client always has the final say.
5. Assess your management skills. When you collaborate on ghostwriting projects, you may be assigned to interview people or conduct extensive research. Put on your ‘Project Manager‘ hat and create a schedule to ensure the project stays on time. Check and recheck your deadlines. Adjust timelines where necessary and always keep the client in the loop.
6. Set parameters. Does the client have pages and pages already written? Do you write the book based on two pages of notes? Will you conduct in-depth interviews with the client? Are you being paid per word, per page, or a set fee? What is the timeline for each chapter? Get all of these and other details in writing (contract) before you begin a project.
7. Track all changes. Most writers are familiar with the ‘track changes’ feature in Word. It’s a great way for the client and you to insert comments and changes.
8. Ghostwriting includes developing relationships. Cultivate a ‘trusting’ relationship with your client. They need to know you won’t blab information to your family, friends, and the press. In fact, they could sue you if you do because there’s probably clause after clause about this in the contract. While it’s exciting to ghostwrite books for celebrities and other public figures, remember they are people too. They are husbands, wives, sons, daughters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Treat them with the utmost respect; you’ll cultivate good karma.
To break into ghostwriting, visit the following websites:
3. Craigslist.org (be careful with this one because some postings could be scams)
Becoming a ghostwriter means you take your ego out of the equation. It’s a known fact that most celebrities and some political figures use ghostwriters. Sometimes writers receive credit and sometimes they don’t. Personally, if I received credit or not is irrelevant to me. My main concerns are writing quality material and receiving payment for my work. Being a ghostwriter can be a rewarding career if you like to meet new people and learn new information. If this resonates with you then ghostwriting is for you.
- What do ghostwriters write and who hires them (wiki.answers.com)
- No crowing glory for the Ghostwriter [Sally Asling] (ecademy.com)
- Ghostwriter Notes trades in pen & paper for digital convenience (themactrack.com)
- Wordsmith Or Writer? (freelanceswitch.com)
- Stick to Your Ribs – Ghost Writers in the Sky (scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org)
- Ghostwriter (hornfingerproductions.wordpress.com)
- The Self-Published Author’s To-Do List (savvy-writer.com)
- The Day I Realized There Really isn’t Anything New Under the Sun (copywrite1985.wordpress.com)