Do an Amazon.com search on Marcia Layton Turner and you’ll find 19 books written or co-written by Turner between 1993 and 2009. She’s also an accomplished magazine writer who’s been published in Business Week, Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Health, Parenting and others. On Monday, June 7 of this year, she launched the Association for Ghostwriters. I spoke with Turner on the phone last week (she lives In New York; I’m in Arizona) and in addition to the inherent joys of swapping stories with a fellow ghost, I learned quite a bit about the association.
My first book as a ghostwriter was in 1999. At that time, I was running a PR firm and had written a number of books.
Joey Robert Parks
Even though the Association for Ghostwriters is new, the people who make it up are not. On the members login page it says, “Membership is by invitation only.” How does that work?
You need to be approved for access to the forum, which is invitation-only, but anyone can join the association. There’s no application process to confirm whether you’ve actually ghostwritten books or not, but if you haven’t ghostwritten before, my question is: “How much ghostwriting have you already done? Have you written a book?” If it’s, “No, this looks interesting to me. I’ve done magazine work and want to get into ghostwritting,” I tell them, “Until you’ve done a book, you’re going to be wasting your money”. You won’t be seriously considered for the [ghostwriting] work that’s coming through [the website to members of the Association].
How many members are in the Association of Ghostwriters right now?
There are 30 members. We’re adding more than one a day. People have been turned away. The cost is $69/year. That includes forum, teleseminars, etc. The non-member can see the blog, but can’t get access to other parts of it. The telesemninar I did in June with Stacy Brice was available when we first started. Members can get the audio file, they can get the transcript. Not non-members.
What are the benefits to joining the Association of Ghostwriters?
People are asking for guidance. They want to hear directly from the sources of these ghostwriting projects, so we have monthly tele-seminars with people who are successful at ghostwriting, have ghostwriting work or who have related services or some kind of system that can help a ghostwriter get more work done.
In June, we did a tele-seminar on virtual assistance about how you can manage yourself better and get more work done. In July, I’m interviewing a literary agent who is actively looking for ghostwriters. She’s going to tell us what she’s looking for and what she needs–all the basics.
In addition to monthly tele-seminars, the Association of Ghostwriters has monthly newsletters. I’ve got one coming out this week that’s really made for how people like to learn. Some people like to listen do CD’s or mp3’s, while others like to read by learning. I like to read because I can get through it faster. There will be more ghostwriter interviews in the newsletter about how they became successful. I fill it in with tips or things I come across that I think people can use.
There’s also a forum for members can talk with each other and ask questions. We’ve already had discussions about where people are finding work, what they think of this particular avenue, what kind of money they can expect today (verses 5 years ago) so they people who are participating right now are experienced. That’s really the type of member I’d like to see continually. They’re already done at least one book, people that are not newbie’s asking, “How do I get started?” When people ask me those questions and then ask would the Association for Ghostwriters be a good thing for me to join I say, “No, it would not”. Because until you’ve already done ghostwriting you’re really not going to qualify for the kind of work we’re seeing come into the Association.
What do non-members have access to?
Non-members can’t access the forum. It’s password protected. As a member, you can see who’s on the forum and you can contact them directly.
How did the Association for Ghostwriters come about?
In 2007, I started an email newsletter called, Become a six-figure freelance Writer. It was for freelance writers that were having problems making a living or asking ‘How can I make more money for this?’ That same year, I spoke at a Six-Figure freelance panel at ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors). Over time, as I’d been writing these newsletters and conducting some survey’s (asking questions like ‘What are your biggest issues?’ and ‘What are you most interested in?”).
In the last couple years, I’d been hearing a lot from ghostwriters who were looking for more work and from non-ghostwriters who were wondering how to get into it. I was investigating it last year and an Association made a lot of sense: we’re all in it, we all want to learn more about it, we all want to find work, get better at it, and let potential clients know we want to help them.
I’ve been working on the association since last year, but I’ve always focused on the benefits of joining and the need for it to be worthwhile. The website went live on Monday, June 7. I sent out a press release and got a mention in Publisher’s Weekly and on a bunch of websites.
Do you want to see this become the Mediabsitro of ghostwriting?
My long-term plan is to attract experienced ghostwriters so we can all learn from each other and elevate the profession. And as an advocacy group to make potential clients aware. We want potential clients to know that this is where you come when you’re looking for a potential ghostwriter. [The Association of Ghostwriters] has been open for about three weeks now and [members] are already starting to get jobs, which is very exciting.
Initially, I was fairly leery about joining up with two other ghostwriters for ghostwritepro.com, but we’re all experienced ghostwriters in non-overlapping areas and with our own specialties. We’ve only been doing it a month or so and we’ve seen amazing correspondence from both potential clients and other ghostwriters. We’re excited about educating other ghostwriters and potential clients.
People worry about competition, but there is power in numbers. In the association we find that everyone has their own little niche, they know what they like to do, there is plenty of work out there.
People are realizing the need for ghostwriters. Especially because of the Internet. There’s a lot of ghostwriting opportunities in places like websites, blogs, etc. Personally, I like books.
Ghostwriting blogs might be a good idea for magazine writers. The association isn’t focused on ghostwriting books, but on ghostwriting period, whatever the form. Most of the people joining have book experience, but are curious about how they might apply their trade in other ways, such as blogging, article writing, speech writing, so many different ways you can go.
Just as writers are asking more about the ghostwriting opportunities out there and how to take advantage of them, the ghostwriting opportunities are also increasing. People are recognizing the power of books or just writing in general, they’re seeing that there’s value in having your name out there, so there are more people looking to have some work done, to have some white papers written up, a series of articles written, it’s a sort of convergence here.
A lot of clients, while working on their book, they will say, “Could you take a look at my website or could you rewrite my bio” or sometimes I’ll say, “Before we release your book, you need to rewrite your web copy” and that becomes another job right there.
I often have web work come out of it, for example, a related article to help promote the work. You can start doing web writing and then be asked to write a book or you’ll be writing a book and other writing will come out of that. It can come either way.
Well, our times up, Marcia. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to talk with me.
You’re welcome, Joey.
[Click. We hang up.]
And then you, the reader, asks:
Well, Joey, are you going to Join?
I’ll let you know next week in my post on why I’ve decided–after never having them and resisting for many reasons– to put my fees on my website.