Monday, October 28, 2019

Why You Should Consider Ghostwriting


Blog post updated 28/10/2019.

The World of Ghostwriting

Many well known authors live a double life, one under their real name and the other as a ghostwriter.

You may well ask, why do they ghostwrite? The obvious answer is the money, and being paid a fair rate for their much needed skill as a writer. Sounds crazy in a time when authors are struggling to earn a decent crust from book sales, that anyone would want to write under someone else's name.

Journalists can also be counted alongside the many ghostwriters working today. Many magazines and publications are halving their running costs by letting staff go. Ghostwriters need to produce manuscripts quickly, gather information from all manner of sources and people, in order to write their book manuscripts.

Ghostwriters can be found in fiction, from H.P. Lovecraft to Raymond Benson (Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell). This kind of fictional writing takes time to perfect, and doesn't happen overnight.

What is Ghostwriting?

When you think of ghostwriting , I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is celebrity memoirs, or writing books for other people.

Those are just a couple of ways to make money as a ghostwriter.

So What is a Ghostwriter?

The definition of a ghostwriter is to write (material) for someone else who is the name author. Yes that's write, you write the book, they get credit for it.

Who Needs a Ghostwriter?

Literary and entertainment agents are always on the lookout for ghostwriters. A helping hand may be required by a writer to sell their manuscript to a publisher. Book proposals play a significant part in a ghostwriters work.

People usually hire ghostwriter's because:

  • They no longer have time to write, because their business has grown so much.
  • They have a lot of information or expertise to share, but don't enjoy the writing process.
  • Ghostwriting has grown so much in recent years that it's taught in colleges, an example of this is California State University, Long Beach offers Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program led by Claudia Suzanne.
Why Would You Let Someone Else Take Credit for Your Work?

Writing is all about growing your brand, and your portfolio, and if that means putting someone else's name up there instead of yours then why not try it.

Here are some of the biggest reasons why most writers use ghostwriting in their arsenal of skills:

Advantage #1: It Pays Really Well

Usually freelance writers make money through their best work and bylines, which showcases their talent and reputation.

But with ghostwriting, extra compensation is required for the loss of these benefits.

It also helps to establish relationships with your clients, which can result in ongoing work. It makes sense that people will stick with the same writer when they want more writing to be done in their name. This makes their work look consistent throughout.

Advantage #2: Closer Relationships Can Be Developed With Authority Figures in Your Field

Ghostwriting gives you the opportunity to work closely with your client, giving you access to information you wouldn't normally have as a writer.

This means you'll be working in a particular subject area, showing your expertise.

Opening the doors to new opportunities, and enabling you to get better acquainted with someone deep rooted in your niche.

Giving you the opportunity to take-a-peek behind the scenes of a well-known author or blogger, and how they think.

Helping you to better understand what you need to do to move forward in your career, and where you want to go next. Maybe start a new blog.

When help a favour is needed you'll also have someone in the know to turn to.

Blogging is all about learning from others, and asking for help every once in a while.

That's one of the benefits of being a ghostwriter, having contact with the right kind of people.

Reasons Why You Might Think Ghostwriting is a Bad Idea

Gripe 1# You're Fooling People Into Thinking Your Work is Someone Else's

Many writers feel that ghostwriting is:
  • "Not ethical".
  • "Difficult to fathom why someone else should benefit from my hard work"
  • "Not building my writing platform".
  • The above points are all really important, and for many writers a sticking point.
So let's get started.

Your words are passing off as someone else's.

"Not ethical".

The people hiring ghostwriters think it's ok, but many people disagree. Some feel that some forms of ghostwriting are more honest than others.

For example, both issues mentioned below are at totally different ends of the ghostwriting scale:

1. A well known author asks a ghostwriter to write a book for them, the author provides a detailed outline. The writer completes the book, the author reads it, does their own editing, then puts his/her name on it.
2. Another author gives the writer free reign to write a book for them, not supplying any help in the process of the creation of the book. Again the author puts their own name on it when its published.

The first situation, the author has used the manuscript to put their own slant on the material given, making it sound more like them, than the ghostwriter.

However the second example has little input from the author, which may make the reader more uncomfortable knowing it has come from someone else.

When someone buys a book they're expecting information from the author, not someone in the background they don't know.

This is why you need to make up your own mind about how you would feel taking on that kind of work as a ghostwriter.

Gripe #2 Difficult to Fathom Why Someone Else Should Benefit from My Hard Work

For some people not getting the recognition they deserve can be intolerable.

It's easy to miss the honour and praise for something you've done, when you're name isn't on it.

On the upside it means that you did a really good job of the assignment you were given, if people are praising the article.

It's okay to not want to watch someone get all the glory, it's only natural.

Gripe #3 Not Building My Writing Platform

Giving another individual credit for work you've done, is a hard thing to handle, at the best of times.

Writers rightly expect the credit due for the work they produce, especially if they're trying to build a portfolio of work.

Every book you write, and blog post you publish, your name is credited on everything, this raises your profile online. And may bring in much needed clients and readers, without the need for marketing.

If you want to dip your toe in the ghostwriting world its worth thinking about what the best route for you as a writer is. You may even want to hire some of your own ghostwriters, as your blog starts growing.

In the meantime there's no reason why you shouldn't start ghostwriting, while your building your writing platform.

Quick Guide to Becoming a Ghostwriter

If you like what you've read so far, then the next step is the start of your ghostwriting journey.

So How Do I Become a Ghostwriter?

1. Start Shaping Your Content Creation Skills

Creating quality content is a key component in your ghostwriting arsenal. This means you need to:
  • Understand content frameworks
  • Master the art of headline writing
  • Recognise how to support your points with good examples
  • Be able to keep your readers engaged
  • ....the list goes on.
Your revenue as a ghostwriter will be measured by your ability to write really great content.

2. Get to Know How SEO Works

If your work ranks well on Google people will happily pay you to write for them.

If you're not sure where to start check out Neil Patel's Guide on SEO.

3. Start Building Your Portfolio of Content Samples

There are kinds of portfolios.

1. The portfolio that tells people you know how to write.
2. The portfolio that tells people you can write authoritatively on any topic.
3. The portfolio of successful projects documented from various clients.

It's best to start with number one, if you're new to ghostwriting.

If you don't have your own platform and are interested in starting one.

4. How to Find Your First Client

Finding your first client will be difficult.

Even with a portfolio, and SEO knowledge finding a client to write for won't be easy.

Here are some points to help you get started:

1. Keep a regular check on job agency postings
2. Make a pitch to popular blogs like Sumo, Ahref's, and HubSpot
3. Self-promote as much as you can, and make set up a page on your blog that you offer a ghostwriting service

It will take time, but after you've started writing for a few customers you'll be on your way. Create great content, and keep your clients happy, and the rest will follow.

I'd love to hear your ghostwriting experiences in the comments below.
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