Building Your Business…and Pursuing Your Passions

I’m still digesting Joey’s post from last week, “The Ghost Materializes“. Thankfully, on Friday morning, I was able to get together to hang out with both Joey and Ed over a cup of coffee. It was a great time to catch up on what’s going on in each other’s lives and work, and to discuss writing and ghostwriting.

Joey’s post, as I told the guys, was poignant for me as I’ve been feeling the itch to begin writing a novel of my own. I was great to talk about how we might balance careers as ghostwriters and vocations as writers. Continue reading “Building Your Business…and Pursuing Your Passions”

The Importance of Outlining

The process of ghostwriting a book is a long and complicated one. Even for a veteran writer, each new project begins with trepidation. In our business and preparation, it’s easy to forget that for many of our clients, this is their first time working on a book project. If the feeling of being overwhelmed affects us as writers, imagine how it makes our clients feel!

I’ve found that one of the best things you can do to center both you and your client throughout the book writing period is to put in the right effort, time, and energy into the book outline. Continue reading “The Importance of Outlining”

Taking the Mystery Out of Pricing

When I first started out as a freelance ghostwriter I was terrified of quoting pricing. The field was new to me, I had no track record to back up my desired pay, and I had no clue what other writers were charging. So, after I’d put in the hard work to find a potential client and then got the opportunity to pitch him or her, when asked how much I charged, I’d freeze, hem and haw, and then say I’ll get back to you.

By then, the client could smell blood and the battle was essentially lost.

We’ve spent some time talking about pricing here at over the last couple months. For instance, I mentioned that I only do flat fee pricing in my post “A Modest Proposal…On Crafting Winning Proposals“, and Joey wrote a great post entitled “Should I List My Fees on My Website“. Both arguments made the assumption that you would know exactly what you’d charge—within a range—for a particular type of project.

But what if you have no idea what you’d charge? And if so, how do you figure it out? Continue reading “Taking the Mystery Out of Pricing”

A Modest Proposal…On Crafting Winning Proposals

You’ve put in the hours to build a compelling website to showcase your mad writing skills. You’ve worked hard for years building a good cliental and a kick-butt portfolio. You’ve cut your chops studying your craft and honing your writing skills. And you’ve put in the time and energy to make great connections and network.

And now it all pays off. A potential client has requested a proposal.

Naturally you should be excited, but here’s the harsh reality. The proposal is where most ghostwriters and freelancers lose the battle. All that hard work and time spent is all for nothing if you don’t nail the proposal.

Why? Because your proposal is the client’s first opportunity to assess your professionalism and your ability—and most importantly, how you can help him or her. In fact, the proposal might be the single most important thing you can spend your time on.

So, here’s a modest proposal…on crafting winning proposals. Continue reading “A Modest Proposal…On Crafting Winning Proposals”

The Ghost of Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer”

(A scene from Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” with Ewan McGregor)

What follows is part I of my ghostwriter’s take on the shooting script for the movie, “The Ghost Writer”. This is where you’ll want to stop reading if you’ve not seen the movie. In the very next paragraph I give details you may not want to know about out of context. Last warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Continue reading “The Ghost of Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer””

Five Ways to Successfully Capture Your Author’s Voice

Perhaps the most daunting task of a ghostwriter is nailing your client’s voice. The ability to become a literary chameleon is what separates the great ghostwriters from the rest.

There’s no formula to being a great mimic. Capturing a client’s personality and idioms requires careful study and a great ear. You must be able to pick up little details, phrases, and pacing that other people blissfully ignore in day-to-day interactions.

When I talk to clients, their #1 concern is often the subject of voice (well…after money). They’re concerned those who know them best will be able to tell they didn’t write the work—and rightfully so.

Part of making the sell to a potential client is being able to on one hand assure them you’ll sufficiently represent the core of who they are in your writing and on the other hand calm their fears that people will see through it all. The reality is that people aren’t good readers, and with a few well-placed phrases and idioms, they’ll buy the illusion of authorship.

But the fact that most people can’t tell an author has hired a ghostwriter doesn’t mean we can produce sup-par work and skimp on the work required to nail a client’s voice.

Here are five simple methods I employ with clients in order to successfully morph my writing style to fit their personality. Continue reading “Five Ways to Successfully Capture Your Author’s Voice”

The Full-Service Ghost: How to Think Outside the Book.

Books are collaborative projects that bring together the talents of authors, ghostwriters, editors, proofreaders, graphic designers, web designers and developers, photographers, printers, agents, publishers, distributors, and publicists—just to name a few.

As a ghostwriter, my first priority is to deliver a great manuscript to my authors every single time. But then what?

Continue reading “The Full-Service Ghost: How to Think Outside the Book.”

Why You’re Not a Writer

I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man. – Jay-Z

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you never woke up one morning as a kid and said, “I want to be a ghostwriter when I grow up.”

More than likely you said, “I want to be a writer.”

The reality is that most of us stumble into ghostwriting because the ultimate goal is to be a writer…an author. At some point in our writing journey we picked up a client or two, made some good money, and realized that there was this whole industry of people who write for other people, as other people, in the shadows of the literary world. Word got out, clients referred other clients, and before we knew it, we were ghostwriters.

So let me cut to the chase: When you’re a ghostwriter, you’re not a writer. You’re a business.

Continue reading “Why You’re Not a Writer”

Space Out to Save Your Writer Soul

This morning I feel like a zombie. I’m in that walking-dead space of writing where apathy and hunger intersect. Maybe you know the feeling. You want to write. In fact, your body nearly aches to do so. But you’re also toast. You stumble out of bed, mechanically make the coffee, plug the baby’s mouth with a bottle, and try to figure out where the last week went. All your good ideas, springing up like fresh flowers on a hopeful spring day, die on the alter of fatigue.

And then you start making mixed metaphors. Continue reading “Space Out to Save Your Writer Soul”