I write books for a living. I write them for other people. I don’t get credit.
“What the heck?” you might yell. “You write books and don’t get any credit?!”
Yep, that’s right. I’m a ghostwriter. (Among other things, but ghostwriting is my day job.)
I’ve been writing content for people for years (some credited, some uncredited), but this article is specifically about the novel-ghostwriting work I do for clients.
Over the past year, I’ve been gathering the questions I get asked most frequently about it. I really love when people message me with questions about ghostwriting. Some people I’ve talked to didn’t even know it was a thing. Which is cool, because I think everyone should learn something new every day, no matter how small. But I digress.
On with the FAQ!
What is ghostwriting?
Basically, people hire me to write their books for them.
I focus on ghostwriting fiction for authors. Some ghostwriters write biographies or write in other genres. Many times, ghostwriting involves transcribing the client’s voice and information into written form and organizing the information/creating a great book out of it. Ghostwriting exists in every genre and a lot of people hire ghostwriters. (I have ghostwritten blog posts, articles, reviews, product descriptions, corporate content, emails, and more. I definitely prefer writing short stories and novels.)
My clients who have projects of a more biographical nature or some other personal work have wanted to have a strong hand in it themselves (I want that for them, too); in this situation, I personally consider these projects to be more of a coaching/editing hybrid rather than ghostwriting since the client is doing most of the content writing and I am simply helping them compile it well and spice it up. I love projects like these because I believe everyone should be able to tell their story, and every story deserves the respect to be told the best it can possibly be told.
How did you get started?
Truthfully, by accident! I was looking for more paid writing work on some freelance sites and started ghostwriting for several clients, beginning with short stories and helping people flesh out plot ideas. Eventually, it led to doing longer works.
From there it snowballed and I realized that a lot of people are looking for high-quality writers to produce content for them.
I’ve never dreamed of doing anything besides writing, so it’s good to finally see that dream coming true (after a long time of hard work, learning, and preparing).
As a creative person yourself, how can you stand seeing so many people not producing their own content?
Initially, I had to keep in mind that books are a business, and people use them to make money just like every other industry.
My job is to make sure there are books of utmost quality being released into the world, and I love that aspect of it (being trusted to write a riveting story with compelling characters that sells successfully).
Authors I work with spend a lot of effort putting their own spin on the content I write (not to mention handling all the work that comes with releasing and promoting a book).
Why would someone hire a ghostwriter to write for them?
Perhaps they are swamped with promoting their other books and need some help bringing their new book ideas to life.
Perhaps they aren’t native English speakers and want someone who can help make their story-vision a reality. (Obviously ghostwriting exists in other languages, but I write in English.)
Perhaps they love storytelling, but writing is difficult for them and they need someone who can get the content down for them.
All of the above are real scenarios of clients I’ve worked with in the past (and some I’m working with currently).
Why do you ghostwrite?
My nice answer: I’ve been writing stories since before I could write. It’s the only thing I have ever wanted to do and it comes the most naturally to me. I love working with people who have a strong vision for their stories and helping them make their story ideas into full-fledged works.
My “alternative” answer (in addition to the above): I wince at the masses of books out there that should have gone through several more drafts before their release. (My pet peeves are plot holes, Mary-Sues, cliches of any kind, and generally poor writing execution.)
I’m all for anyone being able to publish their own books, but the quality of literature is going way down as time goes on. By writing for other people (particularly established authors), I can ensure that there are high quality, thoroughly-developed stories being released that independently-publishing authors can learn from (and more importantly, enjoy).
Can you tell me who you have written for?
Do you get emotionally attached to the stories/characters you write?
Initially, I expected that I would, but surprisingly I don’t that much. I put blood, sweat, and tears into every story I write, but most of the time the ghostwriting work I do isn’t in the genre(s) I write for my personal work. I have to be emotionally involved in every story, but I am not necessarily attached when they are finished.
Is it weird seeing your work published under someone else’s name?
Again, I expected that it would be, but it’s not super weird. I think this goes back to how the stories I usually write for other authors are not the type of stories I write for myself.
Do you work on your own books too?
I do! This year (2017) I had so many clients and projects on my plate (and a ton of tight deadlines) that at the end of the day, the last thing I wanted to do was write more (or even read, but of course I did anyway since that’s how writers learn!). I was so creatively exhausted I just wanted to veg out and look at visual art to break up the monotony of so many words.
Currently, I’m working on a compilation of poetry and am re-planning my novel (it will be the third re-working of it, but it desperately needs to be done). I have several novels lined up to be reworked (I’ve written 8 thus far) so there are a lot of my own projects to work on for the next good while!
Does this answer any questions you had about ghostwriting? Did you know it was a thing? Anything else you want to know?
I’d love to hear from you! Find me on any social media @videmusart and let me know.