How do you do a ghost write?
By Karen S. Cole of Ghost Writer, Inc.
This time of year, I start thinking how grateful I am. I can ghost write, and I’m a book ghost writer. It’s a fairly steady job, pursuit and income, and it’s the culmination of what I have always dreamed about. I first became a professional freelance writer in 1980. The hours were long, and I had to answer to a managing editor or other boss. Now I am able to be my own boss, set my own pay and hours, etc.
I love the wide variety of ghost writing clients coming into our office. It helps me remain able to ghost write. I never get bored with my job! Each incoming author client teaches me something new about the human condition. I have learned tons about infinitely diverse subjects. Such as: the human brain, beauty pageant systems, yoga techniques, the Mafia, the Civil Rights Movement, the Holocaust, Russian children, warehouse parties, and English horse racing. This is just a few such topics of books I’ve ghost written, edited or otherwise worked on in some capacity. I advertise that I will ghost write for anybody, and I do my level best to really mean it!
Nowadays, though, I send most of the work out to our team of ghost writers. But I take on the occasional interesting job myself. I ghost write only if I like the client’s prospects for getting read and published. Meanwhile, I oversee every ghost writing, editing, marketing and promotions job that comes into our agency. It’s a good life being a ghost writer offering full ghost writing services, and I continue to be grateful for it.
To ghost write – what’s the nature of ghost writing?
What more can I say about what it’s like to ghost write – or be a ghost writer? It’s an honest profession, one that suffers through misinterpretation due to media enlargement of what a ghost writer actually does. Ghosts are generally not crooked; some of them do charge inordinately high rates. Others are not highly experienced writers, and still charge enormous fees. But here at Ghost Writer, Inc. we only use expert, published ghosts and editors – even our student writers are multiply published.
Ghost writing can be fascinating when it comes to the personalities, quirks and foibles of our clients. I always aim to ghost write fairly. Each author is a person with human needs, of course! I take this into account when matching a client with a ghost writer or editor. It’s important to let the client know their writer will need a certain amount of time off. They also must work together closely while finishing their projects in time, professionally and on schedule. Sometimes people have special needs, such as dealing with a family crisis or a computer breakdown. So I ask my clients and their ghost writers to understand this, and to keep the lines open with each other.
In every case, it’s a matter of human understanding, foresight and wisdom. You should work carefully and in a humane, caring manner with your ghost writer or editor. He or she will surely attempt to do the same. It’s within the nature of how it is to ghost write for others – caring for your client’s needs, concerns and requirements. This is especially important during these trying political times, so remember to politely treat other people as you wish to be treated yourself. Follow that Golden Rule!
Why should you hire a ghost writer? What good is it, really?
Well, if you plainly don’t have the time to write the work yourself. Or you need someone to edit it for mistakes and make it read much better. You will then want to hire a ghost writer. I ghost write to make money, while you help me create a finished manuscript or other important writing work. Another reason to hire a ghost: because you are not a professional writer! You want your work to read like it was written by a professional. You need someone to go over things, rewriting as needed, in order to present your work to a literary agent or publisher for consideration. It’s how book editing works – I ghost write while you take the credit as your work’s true author.
When dealing with a potential ghost writer or ghosts, you should remain practical, persistent and cautious. Check out each ghost’s or editor’s credentials thoroughly before hiring a freelance ghost writer. However, many ghosts can’t show you a lot of references or recommendations. This is due to the secretive nature of their work. But you should be able to get decent samples from any published ghost writer. When I ghost write, I sign into my contract that I’m allowed to use a brief excerpt. This comes from my finished work, and I only use it for advertising purposes.
Also, be aware that while hiring a writer is a business relationship, humanity is important. Every time I ghost write, I make my clients’ needs paramount. Give your writer a reasonable amount of loose reins. Don’t be too strict; err on the side of forgiveness, not suspicion or hostility. Keep your contact lines free, and have more than one method of contact with your ghost. When family matters and computer difficulties arise, remain patient and understanding. Your friendly GWI writer will do the same, regarding your own setbacks and problems. Things can slow down sometimes, so be sure to be polite and show professional restraint and common courtesy.
What’s it like to be a professional book ghost writer nowadays?
Well, it’s especially nice, because I set my own hours and work whenever I want. I can ghost write on the weekends, at night and at 3:30 in the morning. So I don’t have to worry about taking the time to enjoy holidays with my family and friends. I just need to meet necessary deadlines and get my work done on schedule. Yet I may spend plenty of time away from the computer. This applies to all times of the year, but as I have said before is especially nice during weekends and holidays.
Ghost writers have other perks involved with their ghostly work. We tend to get paid in advance during the course of completing a ghost writing or editing project. When I ghost write, I can take on projects or send them out to team members. I have some 200+ people available for services at Ghost Writer, Inc. So if anything happens to me, there is someone else ready to tackle your project! I run a ghost writing services agency. And our ghost writers don’t have to worry about being associated with a project. We mainly work anonymously. “Iffy” subject matter doesn’t bother a ghost writer, and the pay makes up for the anonymity.
Finally, our self-set schedules let us work as long and hard as we want. We can all work on weekends, after hours and even on important holidays. This is sometimes needed for intensive ghost writing projects. I am semi-retired; these days I’m sending most incoming projects over to our team of specialists. But it helps to be able to work at any time of day that I want – and it is spooky fun being a ghost writer, too! I’ve learned to ghost write at my own pace, in my own time and my own peculiar ways.
How do you become a ghost writer?
In order to be a ghost writer, there are a number of things you should do. As a professional ghost with lots of experience and success, I suggest you try what I’m outlining below in order to get started in your ghost writing business. How to ghost write professionally? First, get published online. This can be best accomplished by writing 500-2,500-word expert articles and publishing them professionally. Also, by writing and publishing your own books, blogs, poetry and short stories. When you ghost write, you will be doing similar things as when you publish your own work.
It helps to have plenty of samples online, in venues such as Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. Next, go to work for places like Guru.com and Freelancer as a student ghost writer. You will ghost write for lower pay at first. You need to attain the experience and good references from clients as a ghost. It may help to do mostly editing work, and then branch out from there. Once you have the published credentials, set up your own ghost writing services website. This can be done as cheaply or for as much money as you’re willing to spend. Great ghost writing service sites should help you when it comes to establishing a steady client base. Nowadays, having access to social networks is also key, and constantly updating your website copy and methods too.
Next, SEO (search engine optimize) your ghost writer business website or sites. You need to be found on the first page in the major search engines, such as Google, Bing/MSN and Yahoo. Be sure to set up only user friendly sites that people enjoy visiting. It helps to have your resume, references, a portfolio or method of accessing a portfolio and a writer’s blog on your site. This is how you begin to truly ghost write, edit, market, publish and get other business. Once you have set up your shingle, those ghost writing jobs should start rolling in. You will become a professional ghost writer of books, websites, screenplays, music and other related jobs.
What kind of credit does a ghost writer for hire get?
It’s called “work for hire.” As a ghost writer for hire, you typically get paid in advance for your work. You sign a contract, boilerplate or otherwise, with your clients. That is how professional ghost writers operate. And in most cases, you’re allowed to set your own hours – a self-employment vital perk! But you don’t receive any credit for the ghost write you perform on a book, music or screenplay. All credit goes to the author client who paid you, instead. The client is usually considered to be the sole author of the book or screenplay writing project, no matter what.
That’s one main idea behind hiring a ghost writer – the anonymity of the ghost. So that nobody knows the book was not written by the client. However, in some cases the author will give the ghost writer partial billing, such as an “As told to…” mention. This may be on the cover, or the acknowledgments page. The ghost is listed as the book’s “editor” and nothing more. Screen credit for a film may also be given to a ghost writer, running with the rest of the credits. A great ghost write may mean full author status, coauthor status, or no credit given whatsoever. It’s a range. Some author clients prefer the “name book ghostwriter” on the cover of their books. Some don’t, and the ghost writer isn’t allowed to mention any participation in the project.
A good compromise is to share credit somehow. This often means the book’s spine states that it was written by both of you. Sometimes, this type of credit is granted in lieu of pay, or there’s an arrangement where the ghost charges a lower fee. At times, “on spec” or percentage payments are involved. It’s not the world’s most popular method; some ghosts frown on it. Regarding a book with which the ghost would like to be associated, it can be a great way to give the writer due credit. A successful ghost write of a “known” book may also help the ghost land better paying jobs.
In short, you can get by and not mention your ghost writer at all. Or you can never mention yourself on the book cover. You cite only the writer you hired as the author of your book – just kidding! Seriously, clients have wanted to do this with me over the years. They simply desired to display a more famous name than theirs on their covers. Nonetheless, I always insist on the book author being mentioned somewhere. I prefer to take a backseat to my clients, and not get too much of the credit. We can make any sort of arrangement you’d like. But I need to be paid decently for my hard work and professional assistance. It’s one of the major perks of this job. So I am your book ghost writer, whenever I’m available to ghost write a book.