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Debunking Ghostwriting

A question I often hear: Don’t you think that ghostwriting is dishonest? After all someone else takes credit for your writing.

My answer: The publishing world has always printed books, articles, and essays written by someone other than the person named in the byline. Ghostwriters, like myself, supply a service to someone who is either too busy to write a book but has a message or someone who has a valuable message or story that needs to be told and they don’t know how to write.

Ghostwriters don’t mind staying in the background. We collect a fee for our services and when finished move on to the next project. Yes, sometimes you’re recognized on the cover after the authors name “with . . .”  It depends on your client and your contract. For most of us, we like moving on to the next project.

I’ll warn you – if you think it’s more important to have your name on the cover than to write a book that people read, then you’re probably not the right fit for ghostwriting. Your job as a ghostwriter is collaboration, direction, and expertise. You must get to know your client and his or her message through an ongoing conversation over weeks or months. You learn how to write in their voice and express their views, not your own. It can be challenging, but I’ve found great satisfaction in writing books for others. When you give them the manuscript and they ask “how did you get into my thoughts and express them so well,” then you know you’ve succeeded in meeting their expectations.


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Why be a Ghostwriter?

Sometimes people ask me why I would want to ghostwrite when I could spend the time writing under my own name or pen names.

For me, the answer is that ghostwriting provides a good income if you establish a good reputation with publishers, book packagers, and clients/authors. I’ve also become a better writer. After all, the more you write, the better you get if you are truly working on your craft and pushing yourself to always get better at it.

If you are a person that doesn’t like anonymity and it’s important that you are the one in the lime light, then ghostwriting isn’t for you. When the book does well, I’m still very excited about it, but my author is the one who is taking the bow. That is what I get paid for – to remain a ghost, in the background.

One of the books on leadership that I ghosted became an amazon best seller in Canada. I have a copy of it on the shelf with other books I’ve written and am very proud to have it there. However, it is important to remember that without the author’s ideas and message, I wouldn’t have written the book. The collaboration is a great experience, especially when you and the author really click together.

Ghostwriting has given me the opportunity to write about many different topics – nonfiction. I’ve written about overcoming fears, becoming more than you are, getting the best and most out of life, leadership in business, real estate, teaching children how to manage money, and finding your purpose.

Most ghostwriters get paid a flat fee for their work and then go on to the next project. Sometimes a ghostwriter is recognized. One of my clients recognized me in the acknowledgements of his book. Occassionally, a ghostwriter gets a small percentage of the profits/royalties on books sold.

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Are you confused? No, I didn’t have my fingers on the wrong keys when I typed the title for this post. Let me translate, just in case you don’t know. It was new to me, too. It is National Blog Posting Month. The group’s challenge is for participants to blog every day for the month of October. As most of you know, I usually post a new blog or have a guest about once a week. This month I invite you to come back every day and see what’s new and just what it is that a ghostwriter does. Hope you’ll come as often as possible. If you want more information about participating in the challenge go to NaBloPoMo . Let me know if you sign up and I”ll come and visit.

First, I invite you to come and enjoy the poetry of Harry Gilleland tomorrow. His poems are a combination of poetry and stories. I love it! What fun.

Second, I’m wearing my ghostwriting hat and working on a project for an international client right now. I’ve written books as a ghostwriter and am now involved in a workbook. I wrote a script in collaboration with my client this summer. A new experience and I learned a ton.

The most important thing besides writing skills is developing and maintaining a good working relationship with your client/author. Remember that you’re not the author, your client is. Like in any relationship there is give and take on both sides. However, a ghostwriter has to remember that the final decision on content and message belongs to the client. Enjoy the process of writing with your client and focus on their needs.

Don’t forget … come back tomorrow and see what’s next.