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Secrets of a ghostwriter

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Have you ever wanted to know what the life of a ghostwriter looks like?

If you haven’t heard of a ghostwriter before, let me give you a little background. Have you ever heard of the Babysitter’s Club series? Hardy Boys? Nancy Drew? The Warrior’s series?

These are only a few books by writers written under a name which is not their own.

Ghostwriters have been used in the publishing industry for years. They are hired to write a project, whether it’s a book, a speech, a song, etc. But the credit goes to someone else, the person who hired them.

Now, just because a book is written by a ghostwriter doesn’t mean they never get credit.

Take James Patterson for example. All of his ghostwriters’ names are on the book with him. But he seems to be the exception to the rule.

My experience with ghost writing is more from a freelance perspective versus maybe someone who’s agented and works with intellectual property.

When I tell people I’m a ghostwriter, I always get the same questions, asked to me over and over. Today I’m going to answer a few:

“How did you get started?”

Back in 2016, I saw a Facebook post by an author friend of mine, Cyn Balog, where she mentioned she was a ghost writer. At that point, I knew what a ghostwriter was and what they did, but I never knew how to be one, especially someone without an agent.

She introduced me to Upwork.com and then I started to do my own research.

Since there are a lot more freelancers and there were ghostwriting jobs available, at the start, I took what I could to raise my rating on the website. These ratings were very important to getting the jobs I wanted later on.

With a higher rating, I would have a better chance of getting the higher paying jobs, where people are looking for ghostwriters who are really effective, communicative, and perfect for their job.

I took a few lower paying jobs that I knew I could do to raise my rating. I actually did write an entire, I think it was about 40,000 word book for like $35. OUCH!

“What have you learned from this experience?”

I really learned my craft. I learned what I liked, what I didn’t like, how fast I could write, how fast I wanted to write, and with my hard work I found several consistent clients who I love to work for and wound up doing over 40 books in about four years.

Because of Upwork, I recently made a connection with a book packager, which was a whole experience in itself.

“Who do you write for?”

I can’t tell you that. With all my clients, I sign an NDA, which is a nondisclosure agreement, which means I cannot tell you who I write for, or what books I’ve written. I can tell you the genre. But that’s about it.

“Are these books your ideas?”

No. I have never written an original idea for a ghostwriting client. I have written for a few clients. Who’ve given me sort of vague details on what they wanted, such as genre or a pitch, but I don’t prefer to work this way with my clients, the consistent clients that I do work for always give me a full outline.

Sometimes they usually give me free reign to explore character arcs and subplots and things like that, but I prefer to have as much information from them as possible to capture the voice they are looking for.

“What types of books do you ghostwrite?”

I’ve written from middle grade, young adult to adult.

Writing in so many genres has helped me figure out what types of genres I enjoy writing.

“How much do you get paid?”

That depends on my client’s budget is. I’ve had options for working with rates per word, per a thousand words, etc.

If you’re interested in ghost writing, just be aware that it may depend on your client and how much they’re willing to pay.

“Is it easier for you to ghostwrite versus writing your own books?”

It really depends on what you mean by easy. I love when an outline is given to me and I can just go ahead and write, which never happens with my books. With an outline, I can start a project right away and ask questions if I have any, but it’s easier to get started for me that way, but the writing is still writing.

“Don’t you think your name should be written on the book cover since you wrote it?”

I know there are often big feelings around this question. Some people believe that a ghostwriters should be given credit for writing a book. After all, it’s their time and effort. It’s their words. It’s their thought process.

My belief is that I would have never written these books unless I was a ghostwriter. These are not my ideas. These are not my outlines. I write the book. But I’m also being compensated for that time. When I give the book away, I give those rights away that I signed in the NDA.

I hope this information was somewhat helpful to you. If you have more questions about the ghostwriting process, I’m starting a series on my channel diving into my experiences as a ghostwriter.

I would love to hear from you, so comment and let me know what questions you have.

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