Ghostwriting 101: The Challenge is in the Secret
Many people ask me what I do as a ghostwriter. The answer has evolved over the years, from “I write for other people” to “I’m a writer.” Short and sweet, I write for other people, but more than that, I am hired to do a specific task, which changes from job to job.
Some people who hire me want a look-thru, what your high school English teacher did when she saw your absentee note. She didn’t really correct it, but she wanted to. She didn’t comment in red pen, for she restrained herself with shaking hands. The same is true for some of the pieces passing my desk. The project may involve a glance over, an okay, this is fine, though I could give my opinion in a few places, suggesting grammatical changes, or omitting tedious adverbs. But I don’t. Many times I can turn over products in a few days, unless they want detailed suggestions.
Others commission me for an assignment requiring me to sit in on all the meetings in their various departments, filtering through the information and writing down basic facts in a simplistic, readable format: a manual. Meetings may occur on a monthly basis, stalling the mission, and creating a longer time-frame until completion.
Then there are individuals I sign with who want a memoir fictionalized. These ventures can range from English teacher excuses to filtering through memories by chronicling and narrating them. Depending on whether an editor and or publisher is included, this process may take over a year to produce the first draft.
But I love ghostwriting! Every piece is different, has unique quirks and oddities, and extreme amounts of information for me to learn. I’ve become a better listener, writer, and negotiator due to necessity. I know my clients. Despite the economy tanking in the last few years, I’ve kept a steady supply of contacts happy.
How do I know if a project is right for me? Our initial meeting helps me determine whether or not we are a creative fit. If, for any reason whatsoever, I cannot communicate or negotiate effectively at that first meeting, I will walk away, hands down, I surrender. Because I know how much patience and passion it will take to conclude the entire oeuvre, whether it’s in three months, eighteen months, or three years down the road. And who wants to be frustrated or bored when they work? I’ll admit, there are moments, even hours when I roll my eyes with dread, but we become a team, heading for the same goal.
Do you know a ghostwriter? Want to become one? Over the next few months, I’ll explore the ins and outs from my perspective, giving you a peek behind the drafting curtain. Plus, I’ll share my tips for making it through those difficult and challenging assignments, what candy is best to snack on, and when not to social network if you’re under a nondisclosure agreement.
I promise the ride will be like one from a traveling carnival; you’ll look at it hesitantly and then decide it may be worth the risk. Always hold the handrail and drop the bar until it is fully engaged…the ride is guaranteed to be bumpy!