What You Must Know About Being or Hiring a Ghostwriter

professional ghostwriter

Even ghostwriters need training

How do you become an author, freelance writer, or ghostwriter? Sue Everywoman was let go from her legal secretary job after 10 years of loyal service. Depressed, she figured she had no options. Jobs are hard to come by, so she decided to be a writer. Maybe author a book. Hey! How about being a ghostwriter? Well, what about being a cowgirl? Sue is equally prepared for any of those careers, but she believes, like a lot of people, that anyone can write.

I actually got an email from someone who found me at Ontext.com and wanted me to tell him what he should do to be a ghostwriter. He lost his job as a massage therapist and thought this would be the perfect time to branch out. No experience, he admitted, and no education or background in the industry, but he was sure he could succeed since his mother always told him he was a great writer and his fifth grade English teacher agreed. Seriously.

We can be grateful the guy didn’t decide to go into surgery or airline piloting.

A Successful Ghostwriter, Writer, or Author

How to Ghostwrite

  • Skill — You must be fluent in English – grammar, syntax, and composition. Verbal and written.
  • Insight — It’s essential for you to understand what makes a story compelling or what makes a non-fiction book interesting enough to hold a reader.
  • Experience — Truly, folks, how can you go into a business without experience or expertise? You have to know the industry. Who’s publishing what? Are ebooks a viable way to get your work out there? Is self-publishing a hopeless waste of time? How does an author find an agent, and does she even need one?
  • Talent — admittedly, talent is not the top priority. Many competent writers proper skills, but no real talent. They make a living at utilitarian types of writing.
  • Passion or dedication — You can’t sustain the energy to create 200-300 word works unless you have a degree of passion about the process.
  • MARKETING AND BUSINESS ACUMEN — If you are to survive in this uber-competitive marketplace, you must know how to sell yourself, your work, your client;s work, and your ideas. This is non-negotiable.

How to Find What You Need

  1. Skill — Practice your craft. Read the right books and follow the right writers. Subscribe to websites like the ones we’ve discussed in this blog. Like this one, in fact.  Take English comp and grammar refresher courses — I’m serious about this. Take an editing course. Look at online writing classes from Poynter.org or other reputable sites. Look into ghostwriter training. Hiring a ghost? Ask what their training or education background is. Massage therapy school does not count.
  2. Insight — Read. Read. Read. Figure out what type of books you’d be interested in writing or ghosting, and read to see why some are successful. Interview authors for your blog and pick their brains. Seeking a ghostwriter? Look at portfolios and decide whether your candidates have a clue what works and what doesn’t. Do they work steadily? What is the status of their ghosted projects?
  3. Experience — Pay your dues. Write whatever anyone will hire you to write, create a portfolio. Work hard and refine your skills. Look through this blog for markets that encourage beginners or aspiring authors. those looking to hire a ghost or a writer need to check resumes and CVs carefully. Check references!
  4. Talent — You ain’t got a thing if you ain’t got that swing doo op doo op doo op. If you can’t sustain high quality imagination, required for fiction and non-fiction book writing, stick to small projects, work diligently, and you’ll live happily ever after. Hiring a ghostwriter — if your book is fiction, talent is essential. Ask the prospective ghost to read chapter and analyze it for you. Even if they charge a fee, pay it. You will learn about their talent level.
  5. Passion — Get inside yourself (as a writer) and be totally honest about whether you have the passion to stick with this. I hear many new clients complain they hired a ghost who worked for a month on their book and then crapped out and disappeared. If you’re hiring a ghost, ask to see long, large, completed projects and make sure the work is fairly recent. Talk to your candidates and listen for their level of enthusiasm and motivation. Check references!
  6. Marketing and business acumen — Put time and effort into developing your PR packet for prospective clients. Study marketing techniques and learn how to present yourself and your work. Learn about billing and bookkeeping. Find software to make your financial end look professional. I use Freshbooks, very simple. Make every contact with every prospect or client 100% professional, 100% accurate, and 100% ethical. this isn’t a hobby, it’s a business and if you can’t sell yourself, no one will buy what you have.  Hiring a ghostwriter? Pay close attention to how they present. If the candidate is sloppy and haphazard about first encounters, it isn’t going to get any better. Read this book — Guerrilla Marketing for Writers: 100 No-Cost, Low-Cost Weapons for Selling Your Work

The Ghostwriter Hired

If you seek to be as a ghostwriter, writer, or book author, make sure you understand how to charge for your services. If you’re looking to hire a ghost, research conventional rates and don’t go looking for someone who will work cheap. If you don’t have a healthy budget available for a professional to help you make your book successful and worth respect, this isn’t the time for you to look for a writer. Hold off until you have the funds or your project may end up being an embarrassment. If you offer to pay peanuts, you will hire a monkey.

If your goal is to be a professional, in-demand, well-paid ghostwriter or freelance writer, begin now and prepare yourself to stand above the crowd. this industry may be the most competitive it has ever been and is awash with hacks willing to write for a pittance. But, there is still a place for the experienced pro at strong rates. Take yourself seriously, work as hard as you would in the corporate world, and hone your self-discipline to a fine point.

If you’re looking to hire a ghostwriter, pay attention to what is put before you when you accept applications and inquiries. Your book project is one of the most significant things you will ever do; don’t entrust it to a hack. Your good name will be on that book cover.



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