A successful freelance writer offers a broad based set of skills. They cast a wide net in order to service as many clients as possible. Most freelance writers will take on jobs that involve article writing, blog posts, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) key word articles and the like. Some may even work actively to query and write articles for magazines. A well-rounded freelance writer will also be open to ghostwriting.
What is Ghostwriting?
Simply put, ghostwriting is the act of writing material for someone else who is lacking either the skills, time or know-how to do it on their own. Here are some examples:
A big time celebrity holds the public’s attention. They may have an interesting life story to tell, or maybe folks would just be interested in reading about them because of their notoriety. Chances are they are not a writer and they would use a ghostwriter to research, interview and tell their story.
A doctor has been collecting research and data on an interesting aspect of their field for years. Now they want that information collated and published.
A lay person wants their memoir written to be passed on to family members.
An entrepreneur wants several short e-books written on a specific topic or topics.
The possibilities are nearly endless. When you think about it, nearly every client you work for is hiring you to “ghostwrite”. If they want ten keyword optimized articles, it’s because they do not have the time to research and/or write the article for themselves – that is why they hire you.
Understanding that nearly every ghostwriting project may be a little different, here are some basic points to keep in mind:
Typically, when you complete a ghostwriting project you give up all of the rights to the material. If you ghostwrite the book for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, your name will not appear anywhere in the book. As far as most folks know, she “wrote” the book. Hence the term ghostwriter – you write it, but nobody can see you.
In the above scenario, you know that the book will sell millions of copies. In lieu of receiving any royalty, you would charge a very hefty fee for your work – perhaps as much as in the hundreds of thousands.
Any ghostwriting project can be a very perilous journey. There is a long term commitment and if things go south half way through, you need to be protected. It is worth the time and expense to have an attorney draft a iron clad contract to protect the rights of yourself and your client.
If you dive into the world of ghostwriting, you need to be prepared to live the project for the foreseeable future. You would need to cut down on any other commitments or you will find your plate too full and everything will suffer.
Ghostwriting can be wonderfully challenging and lucrative as well. Remember that it is not something to be entered into lightly and good communication with the client is the real key to success. There are a number of resources available on the web to help you get started as a ghostwriter. Take the time to research and learn everything you can before entering into an agreement with a client.
Do you have any “ghost” stories to tell? What ghostwriting lessons have you learned?