According to Wikipedia, “a ghostwriter is a writer who writes books, manuscripts, screenplays, scripts, articles, blog post, stories, reports, whitepapers, or other text that are officially credited to another person.”
For a little over six months, this is exactly what I have been. I’ve been a ghostwriter. And to be honest with not only you but myself, it is a freeing experience. I am able to write things I wouldn’t write and want to put my name on. All of the projects are fiction, after doing a month of boring non-fiction books which just took time away from what I really wanted to do.
I love the freedom of being able to create a story which in the end will be published, but not with my name on it. If the story ends up sucking or getting bad reviews, it isn’t my name on it (although I wouldn’t want that to happen for anyone). If some of the content is stuff that I wouldn’t want my relatives to read, I don’t have to worry about it since they won’t know it was me. Basically, I get to create the ultimate in fiction without all the worry and stress of publication and reviews.
I also have discovered that by being a ghostwriter, I have proven to myself that I can actually write a novel. I’ve written close to ten in these six months. They aren’t 100,000 words novels, but the small ones which readers seem to be drawn to in this digital age. By showing myself that I can actually produce novels, I have found myself more eager to work on my own novels.
I now know that I can get past those pesky middles that I always seemed to get myself stuck at in my own writing. I now know that I can meet deadlines and produce way more words in an evening then I even believed possible. All of these things I have discovered about myself has allowed me to become a much better writer.
Another thing I have learned through my ghostwriting time is that I am able to come up with some very interesting plots. Plotting has always been a big downfall for me. If I don’t do it, my story never get written, but when I work on a plot ahead of time, I can’t seem to get past the plotting stage. But now that I have had deadlines which required plots to be discovered in a matter of days instead of months, I actually have found I’m good at it.
Being a ghostwriter does have a few downsides.
- It takes away from my own books. When I am on deadline for one of my ghostwriting projects, I find that I spend more time on that project than my own. Yes, I get paid for the ghostwriting projects and have to have it done, but when I focus more on these, then I lose the time to work on my own stuff.
- The work you are creating will never be recognized as yours. There are days when I have looked at some of the projects I created and wish I had created it for myself.
In completed honesty, those are the only two things I have found about ghostwriting that I didn’t like. There hasn’t been a huge amount of downside to this writing life I’ve chosen to follow.
How did I start?
I had someone ask me how I started ghostwriting. And it was a long process, but also short in a way.
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. Fiction has been my number one dream, but I’ve toyed with freelancing nonfiction throughout the years. When we had some financial issues this previous year, I figured the best thing to do was head onto a freelance writer job site called ODesk and start applying for some freelance assignments. I got them, but I wasn’t happy. I made a decision a while ago that I didn’t want to focus on anything other than fiction (except for some work for friends). It just took too much time away from my fiction writing.
Then, one day when I was looking for another position since I still needed to do this extra work to help out situation and clicked on the ghostwriting search. That was when I discovered that there is actually a great deal of postings that involved fiction. So I started to apply. At first I had more rejections than acceptance, but then I started to get jobs, which led to more jobs. It just took that first assignment to allow others to see that I was able to produce the work.
How can you start being a ghostwriter?
- The first suggestion I would give is to have samples. All of the ghostwriting positions I have had involved turning in a sample of my writing. By having a number of different samples in the different genres that I want to write in, I was able to get these positions. If you are prepared from the start, when you send in your application you can have these samples already included.
- In almost all of the assignments I have gotten, I had to write some sex scenes. Find out what you are comfortable writing when it comes to this and practice writing these scenes. Even after all of the books I’ve written, I still have trouble with these scenes, but I am a lot better than I was at the beginning. The more you write these scenes, the better they will come across in your assignments.
- Read through ALL of the information that the client gives in the job post. Once you have read through it… read through it again. Then make sure you are comfortable with what they are offering. Really think about it and if there is any doubt in your mind, then don’t apply.
- Don’t be afraid to tell them what you are worth. I have recently spent a month bargaining with a client about pay and stipulations for a project. We went back and forth, until finally he agreed with my terms. In the end this is a business and you need to treat it like one. Don’t give in when someone asks to pay you less. Stick to your guns and in the end, you will have the positions you are proud of.
Did I ever see myself as a ghostwriter? Absolutely not. I always thought of them as someone who took over a series when the original author had passed away.
Would I recommend anyone being a ghostwriter? Absolutely. If you want to begin a career in fiction writing, then there is no better way to start. You not only end up with plenty of practice in actually writing the books, but you are guaranteed payment whether the book ends up being highly successful or not.
Until next week. Keep writing!