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Any Ghostwriters or Aspiring Ghostwriters Hiding Out There?


Ghostwriters and aspiring ghostwriters- -take off your cloaks of invisibility for a moment and check out these two upcoming opportunities to meet other ghosts, learn new skills and techniques, and join our growing community of professionals.

1) Ghostwriting Certificate Program is now online at Cal State U., Long Beach. The next class begins February 16, 2013. Go to www.ccpe.csulb.edu and search for “ghostwriting& quot; for full information and registration.

2) Ghostwriters Unite!, the first international conference for, by, and about ghostwriters, takes place at the Long Beach Hilton on May 3, 4, and 5. Go to http://ghostwriters unite.com for info and registration. Early bird special rates end April 1st.

These are great opportunities for anyone who is interested in ghostwriting. Even though the first listing may be too short for you to make the deadline, if you live in the Long Beach area, then you can sign up for the next course cycle. I have done some ghostwriting, as many of you know, and enjoyed it. If you don’t live in that area, then check at your local colleges and universities. They may have ghostwriting programs or classes available. Best of luck.

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Ghostwriting Workshop Coming in May

Life as a Ghost (writer) — Ghostwriting Workshop
Meet: Tuesday evenings in May, 6:30 – 8:00 at Amarillo Public Library East Branch.
An informative and interactive workshop for writers who are interested in becoming a ghostwriter or those who would like to know more about it. A key to ghostwriting is learning how to use voice. Even if you don’t think you’ll try ghostwriting, this workshop helps fiction writers learn methods to give their characters individual voices. I’ve ghostwritten books for international clients and one of her books was on the Amazon Best Seller List in Canada. Participants will come away with an overall grasp on what it takes to be a successful ghostwriter, how to find you client’s voice, and the opportunity to experiment with writing in someone else’s voice.
I’d love to see any of you in the area attend. In my previous workshops, we’ve had a good time – at least I’ve had a good time and the evaluations reflect the attendees also had a good time. It’s always a busy month but come when you can if five weeks commitment is too much for May.

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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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Here I am at Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference

I arrived in Oklahoma City for the OWFI 2010 conference yesterday with high winds on the road and friendly, welcoming faces at the conference. I met people that I’ve known online for a long time and have enjoyed getting to know participants and other presenters. We had a great barbque dinner to welcome all of us on the faculty for the conference. It was great to see Deborah LeBlanc again (her latest book, Water Witch). She is an inspiration to me and a friend. I love it that she wrote the cover blurb for Shelter from the Storm.

There are about 400 people here and it is a great facility and great opportunity. We had a great time in my “Life as a Ghost(writer)” workshop this morning. Everyone seemed to have a good time and told me that not only enjoyed it but it was a valuable experience. Tomorrow, Saturday, I facilitate the workshop on “How to Do a Virtual Book Tour.” It should be just as much fun.

This evening after the banquet we are holding buzz sessions either in the atrium or in our suites. Informal opportunities to chat and answer questions with participants.


Lessons Learned from Ghostwriting

I’m sure there are many lessons that people learn when ghostwriting a book. These are a few of the things that I’ve learned in my own experiences.

Active listening during an entire interview or conversation. You can take notes while you talk or record the conversation if the client knows you’re using a recorder, but if you don’t have a recorder or don’t use it for phone calls you could miss some important details.

Most people love to talk about themselves and what they are interested in. A few questions may be all they need to give you the information you need.

If you are not clear on something, then repeat what you think they said and ask if that is right. You can also ask them to clear up some confusion over a topic or fact.

Ghostwriting can help you find your own voice by learning to write with someone else’s voice.

These are just a few. If you do some ghostwriting and have other things you’ve learned from the experience I’d love for you to leave a comment. Have a great day!

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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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Sunday and What Happened to Fall?

I admit that my efforts for every day blogging for a month now has a couple of missed posts. However, I am going to keep going. Sunday is my favorite day of the week. I usually spend the moring involved with choir, Sunday school, and services and than have a quiet afternoon with family or friends. Sometimes, I read or take a nap. By evening, I start putting things together for the week.

This weekend we went from a few days of Fall weather, most of the leaves haven’t even turned yet – Winter arrived yesterday with a major cold front and we had our first freeze. Wow!

Tomorrow … more about ghostwriting.

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Successful Ghostwriting

The initial interview helps getting to know your client/author as well as what they want to cover in the project.  I begin by finding out about the client’s background and interests. How did they get to where they are? Visit with them regularly during the project.

Clarify the type of book they want to write and what the subject will cover. As a ghostwriter, part of your job is to help direct your client in narrowing a subject that is too broad. For example, relationships has many subtopics. Education has many aspects. It is best to focus in on one aspect or only a few related subtopics. People don’t realize it, but their first instinct is to cover everything in one book. It becomes a never ending book. Encourage your client to write more than one book about the topic.

Work through the basics of what they want to say in the book. Their personal stories help enrich the content and help the reader to associate with the writer and the subject matter. What people does the client admire? Do they have favorite quotes? Who is their market? Are they clear on what the overall message is?

Compile some questions that you want to ask your client about their book and put together specifics that help clarify what the book includes. Then, put together an outline. Submit the outline to your client and then collaborate until you get the outline that your client is satisfyed with.

Next, it’s time to begin writing. As in other writing, allow yourself to write the first draft imperfectly. No first draft is ready for publication. It is where we start.

Most of all, enjoy working and collaborating with your client. Give them your best and they will return for your services time and time again. They will also refer other people to you.

For additional information about becoming a ghostwriter, read my article at Writing for Dollars.

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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.

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Blizzards and Daffodils

In West Texas we had a blizzard last Friday and today the snow is long gone and my daffodils are getting ready to bloom. Ah, Spring!

Hope Spring brings to mind new books and stories to write or read. When the weather warms up, my favorite thing to do is take a book out on the swing in my back yard under a huge Mulberry tree.

You can now order Rebekah Redeemed directly from a link in the right hand column of this page.

I’m finishing up a final draft on a ghostwriting project this week. Then, focus turns to my next book. One in the works – first draft in progress. Another waiting to hear from the publisher. Two others in research.

I brought a lot of new books home with me from the Christian Book Expo in Dallas a week ago. What an awesome and fun experience. Now that I”ve rearranged my book shelves to accomodate them I need to decide which one to read first. I have autographed books from Max Lucado, Jerry Jenkins, Jennifer Rothschild, Elizabeth George and others.

Happy reading and writing!

Come back Wednesday for another guest author  – Carolyn Howard Johnson.