People hire ghostwriters when they want someone else to write their literary or journalistic works, speeches and other content that can be officially recognised to someone else as the author. Many celebrities, executives, political leaders, and sports personalities turn to ghostwriters to give them a draft or even edit their autobiography. The ability to disappear is a sign of true mastery, and having the ability to impersonate someone else's writing. Often screenwriters call upon the trusted eye of a ghostwriter to improve their scripts.
The Legal Side of Ghostwriting
Confidentiality clauses are used between the ghostwriter and the author credited to the work which constrains the ghostwriter to remain anonymous. Although, in some circumstances the ghostwriter may be acknowledged by the author or publisher for their writing services politely calling them a "researcher," but this is pretty unusual when it happens.
How Does a Ghostwriter Get Paid and Receive Credit for Their Work?
Ghostwriters can be paid several different ways. This is because it can often entail a year or more researching, writing or even editing books that come their way.
Fees can come in the form of:
- price per hour
- per word per page
- a straightforward flat fee
- a percentage of the royalties
- or a combination of a flat fee and royalties
The Digital Age
Changes have come through the digital age which has opened up new doors for many authors and writers alike. Making ghostwriting more affordable. The market for shorter books, or books with less than 30,000 words has expanded, all thanks to ebook sales and digital reader technologies.
The result of shorter length books means more potential clients can afford to have a book written. This was unheard of before the internet came along when publishers would produce novella length books.
On the higher end of the spectrum, celebrities, movie stars, politicians and sports personalities would offer higher fees to incentify the best ghostwriters to write for them.
So What Does a Ghostwriter Really Do?
Ghostwriter - The Collaborator
When a ghostwriter collaborates they're usually writing on behalf of someone else, with the aid of the author's own expertise and background knowledge and stories.
Ghostwriter - Book Doctor
This can entail being both an editor and ghostwriter in part to a project. Which may involve rewriting text, and editing something that has already been written.
So What is the Bottom Line?
Not every writer is a ghostwriter, because you need more than good writing skills to get by. All ghostwriters need to be able to commit to a project anywhere from a month to a year or more, and also be able to put their ego to one side. The ghostwriter's name is no longer the main event, but rather will appear underneath the author who will have top billing.
Not minding being in the background, but also having the skill to write in someone else's voice instead of your own. And keep in mind that the book belongs to your client and not you.
You Need to be a Great Organiser
Organising information is critical when you're working with someone else, being able to keep track of every draft that is written and approved, and being able to workaround your client's schedule.
You Need to be able to Manage Your Own Time
This one you probably already have if you're a freelance writer, so that shouldn't be too much of a problem.
You Need to Have Patience
Every client you take on will have their particular way of working, and you're going to have to get used to it if you're going to write a book for them. Your tolerance will be tested to the limit, and you'll need a cool head if you want to keep your clients.
Your Creative Skills Will be Tested
Whether you're writing nonfiction or fiction you'll need to work on a narrative arc, or message for your book. Everything you write will require some kind of structure, while maintaining someone else's voice instead of your own.
You'll Need to be a Problem Solver
Having the ability to bring fresh ideas to the table, along with brainstorming skills and a real spirit of collaboration, all without being asked is a skill in itself.
You Need Working Knowledge of the Publishing Industry
This means you need to have at least one book published yourself. Your experience as an already published author, and understanding of the publishing process will carry you along the way.
The Ghost Part
Under the guise of a ghostwriter you'll have to find your client's voice and channel that into your writing, and create something that isn't yours per se.
However, if you really like the idea of being someone else's voice then it's right up your alley.
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