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Becoming a Ghost Writer


By Karen S. Cole of Ghost Writer, Inc.

Originally being a professional freelance writer, on and off since 1980, I became a ghost writer in 2003. I did it, and you can too. Just follow the relatively easy steps I have outlined below, and you’ll be a professional ghost writer in no time at all!

1)    Be published several times under your own name. The idea is to get some background references to your work published so that it can be easily accessible online and in other places. Publish some books, either commercially or via self or indie publishing, under your name, and publish several articles on the Internet via services such as Ezine Articles.

2)    Get jobs on Internet writing services websites. This includes sites such as Guru and Freelancer, where you will need to sign up and then bid for jobs. These jobs won’t pay much, but over time you can charge more. This will get you some references from clients, and it helps to get several ghost writing and editing jobs through these services too.

3)    Put up your own ghost writing services website. You can either build one yourself using MS Expression Web or Dreamweaver, or you can hire someone to build you a professional looking ghost writing services website. The site should include either onsite pages or links to your resume, portfolio of samples, and references from clients. You must search engine optimize your site so that it comes up under ghost writer related keyword phrases on Google, Yahoo and Bing, and so that it is listed high up in the organic SERPs.

4)    Expand your online presence beyond your website. This is done by joining Facebook and creating a business page, and then getting plenty of “likes” there, and joining Twitter, getting plenty of followers there, and joining LinkedIn and building up a solid business presence there. You can join other online services such as YouTube (post business videos), MySpace, Klout (it helps to have a high business score there), Pinterest, etc.

5)    Use word of mouth to get out the word about your services. This can be done by taking out ads in writers’ magazines and in many different places on the Internet, advertising locally, becoming a member of the Better Business Bureau, getting reviews from third parties on Angie’s List and Yelp, sending out emails to lists (you have to be careful to avoid spamming), running TV and radio ads, or whatever else you can think of to get the word out far and wide about your business.

6)    Add free services and options to your website. This includes allowing visitors to sign up for a free newsletter and/or an email list they can join, inputting search boxes to make it easier to find services on your site, and using fillable forms to ask general questions on your main pages. You can also add Google Analytics or a similar free service to keep track of visitors – how many new visitors you’re getting per day, where they are coming from, etc. This is very useful and will help you with any ad campaigns you mount, too.

7)    Take out ads, such as through Google AdWords (the best one on the Internet), Bing and Yahoo sponsored results, and then mount several ad campaigns. You pay per click for these ads, and input a maximum amount you are willing to spend per day. You can also create an ad campaign on Twitter, LinkedIn and several other Internet services, and these ads should bring in lots of “clicks” to your site. Be sure your website is user-friendly and that your visitors have excellent landing page experiences that translate into emailing or otherwise contacting you as fresh leads.

8)    Get inbound links. You do this, and it will increase your rankings on Google, both your PageRank and how high you appear in search results. One easy way to do this is to post guest blogs on other people’s writing blogs. You find them on the Internet and write them, asking to post a guest blog about ghost writing. They usually will respond in the affirmative on this. Then you write a short piece about ghost writing or any other subject and send it to them, along with a link back to your site, using different anchor text each time and also using deep linking. There are in fact many different methods for getting links back to your website, and you should research them, as this is a very valuable resource.

9)    To find more work, or even to land a steady ghost writing job, amass your references and samples and then write literary agents and book publishers, one at a time, asking if they would like to hire your services as an in-house ghost writer or editor. A lot of agents and publishers hire ghost writers to work for them editing incoming book manuscripts from authors. This is one of the main ways a lot of ghost writers get work nowadays. And write famous book authors who have worked for several years, offering your services to fill in for them to complete or work on their series books. If you have excellent credentials, you can’t go wrong if you land a job with a prestigious book author who needs someone to assist them on a regular basis – the pay for this is often fantastic.

10) When you charge fees to your clients, be sure to always or at least usually charge in upfront installments, payable during the course of completion of the ghost writing project. Avoid “on spec” or percentage payments as often as you can, only taking them when you think a work is likely to become famous and sell quite well. And always use a book writing contract, signing it between you and the book author, with language enclosed pertaining to limiting the total amount of revisions you will make to the finished work, and also limiting the total amount of indemnities to something reasonable, such as only allowing litigation for the actual total amount you’ve been paid for working on a book manuscript. If you create your own contract, you can set the legal boundaries to be for the state you live in, making it much easier for you in case of litigation.

If you follow these simple rules, you will find yourself running a legitimate, thriving ghost writing services business soon. In addition, if you get more work through your leads than you can complete by yourself, you can send work out to other writers and editors. You collect a referral fee for this, such as 10% of the job fees. And you can arrange to feature other writing related services, such as book marketing and promotions, through partner agencies. You can build a total ghost writing services agency this way, and accommodate the needs of plenty of book ghost writing clients.