Hello, readers, and welcome back...after more than a year on hiatus, I've decided to reboot the blog for several reasons. First and foremost, while the majority of my work these days is ghostwriting books for a variety of clients (with some content marketing, articles, and public speaking thrown in), I have several popular books on freelancing that continue to sell well. All are earning royalties! And that's great--so why not jump back into blogging and continue to rev those book sales?
Just as important, this blog has been one way of giving back to the freelance community. If you're read my blog in the past, you know I opt for transparency. (Hence my honesty about my first reason for rebooting the blog.) I talk about money, share actual freelance rates for different types of work, discuss how to address freelancing issues (like getting paid!), and am always happy to answer readers' questions. I love helping other freelancers--both new and experienced--reach new levels of success in their careers. It just feels good!
So please comment with any topics you'd like to see me cover, or questions you have, and I'll be happy to help!
In the meantime, today's post is about how to determine whether ghostwriting is a good fit for you. You may be a stellar writer, but not every freelancer is cut out to ghostwrite. To succeed as a ghostwriter (or even a coauthor), you must have:
• The ability to set your ego aside. I confess that the first time I learned about ghostwriting (at a panel at the awesome ASJA conference), I thought, "I don't want to write someone else's book! I only want to write my own!" If you're addicted to seeing your byline, ghosting may not be for you. It's all what your client wants, not what you want. If you can’t set your own ego aside, your career will be short-lived.
• Organizational skills. Forget the idea of scatterbrained writer. Writing a book requires focus and organization. It's even more important when you're writing someone else's. You're expected to stay on top of your own research, organize information you receive from your client, track various drafts (in progress or approved), and manage a schedule that may be ever-changing depending on your client’s needs. If your desk typically looks like a bomb went off, ghosting may not be a good fit for you.
• Creativity. Ghostwriting isn’t as simple as filling in an outline or connecting the dots. If you’re writing a memoir, a novel, or “creative nonfiction,” you’ll need a narrative arc and an overall theme or message for the book. Even a relatively straightforward how-to manuscript requires an ability to organize material, structure the overall manuscript (unless your client has determined this already), and to identify and maintain your client’s voice—in addition to writing 50,000 to 75,000 words or more. And that takes creative skills.
• Stress management skills. If you work for what I call a “PIA” client (think Pain In the A…) occasionally, your contact with the person is limited. But when you ghost or collaborate, you’re stuck with that person for months. Some clients will decide on a plan of action, then follow it to the letter. (I love those people!) Others will second-guess their decisions, change the scope of the book as you’re nearly completion, or need continual handholding. And that takes patience, deep breathing, goblets of sauvignon blanc, you name it.
• Knowledge of the publishing industry. Have you published your own books? Written and sold book proposals? Worked with an agent? Do you know the difference between traditional publishing, self-publishing, and print-on-demand ("POD"), and what the advantages and drawbacks are? The more experience you have with books, the more valuable you are to a client, and the more potential you have as a ghostwriter.
**Have questions about ghosting? Comment below and I'll be sure to answer them! And thanks for reading.
New to freelancing and have questions? If you want the "big picture" about freelancing and are serious about making your freelance writing business a money-maker, I suggest my freelance classic, Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition.
**If you're more interested in getting into ghostwriting and content marketing, I suggest Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition.
**If you're brand-new to freelancing, Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets walks you through the process of launching your freelance career.
**Finally, if you like your books full of shorter pieces, check out a different format--Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success is divided into five broad sections to help you make more money regardless of what kind of nonfiction writing you do.