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Monday, October 11, 2010

Pros with Platforms: The Most Lucrative Clients for Ghostwriters

For the next few posts, I'll be talking more about ghostwriting--after all, my new book, Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: The Writer’s Guide to Making Money Ghostwriting and Coauthoring Books, is now in print (with an e-book version coming by week's end).

Of course you can't be a successful ghostwriter without clients. And while ghosting clients range from everyday people to book publishers to packagers, most of my ghostwriting and coauthoring work comes from a type of client I call "Pro with a Platform", or "PP".

Who is a PP? She's a businessperson who doesn’t just want to write a book; she wants to add “book author” to her CV, or curriculum vitae. Maybe she’s establishing herself in a particular profession and knows a book will build her credibility. Maybe she’s a motivational speaker who wants to a book to boost “back-of-the-room” sales. (In addition to speaking fees, speakers make money by selling books, DVDs, and other products to attendees.) Maybe she’s a plastic surgeon or an investment advisor or a personal trainer who knows a book will help her attract more clients.

Whatever the motivation, the PP wants to write a book but lacks the ability, time, or patience (or all three) to do so.

PPs are my favorite kind of clients. They tend to be smart (at least about their particular subject area), and often respect the time, brainpower, creativity, and experience it takes to ghostwrite or collaborate on a book. PPs usually look for ghostwriters who already have some knowledge of their subject area whether they're hiring someone to write a book, an article, a speech, or even blog posts.

So how do you reach PPs? Play up your background and experience, especially if you specialize. When you write magazine articles and get a bio note (the brief line at the end of an article about its writer), identify yourself as a ghostwriter. Let the expert sources you interview for magazine articles know that you ghostwrite and collaborate on books. You never know who may know a PP who's looking for a ghostwriter or coauthor.

Want to know more about branching into the lucrative field of ghostwriting? I'll be offering my six-week ghostwriting e-class again starting November 1, 2010; let me know if you have any questions about it.


  1. Good blog, Kelly. I found it after reading your article on ghostwriting in the current Writing for Dollars. Especially liked your list in Wfor$$ on how to know if you can be a ghostwriter, as it's something I have to explain a lot since it's what I do quite often anymore. Especially liked your comments on negotiation--personally, I tell people I never let myself even imagine the book is mine: it's my client's idea, my client's expertise, my client's reputation on the line if I get something wrong--so of course, when we don't agree on the way something should be done my vote counts less. That said, while I completely agree with your opening reminders that a ghostwriter must be able to handle no recognition, I'm not sure that went far enough. In most cases I have to sign a confidentiality agreement, and if the client doesn't bring it up first, I mention it. I've known people who say they want to ghostwrite, and I know are excellent writers, but are also invenerate gossips who may not deliberately tell but will leave enough clues an "audience" can figure out who they write for. So, while handling "not seeing your byline" is important, really being able to keep a longterm secret is critical--and could be grounds for a lawsuit. Great job on the article, great list for consideration, great work--thanks!

  2. Hi, Joanie--

    Thanks for your comments (and compliments!). :) You make a good point about confidentialty agreements and being able to keep a secret...I was a lawyer in my former life, so I "get" the confidentialty thing, but many writers don't.

    Thanks again and I hope you'll be a regular visitor here.