Things Learned While Ghostwriting

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Ghostwriting: Things I Learned

First Time Gigs


Think It Through Completely

Know exactly what your client anticipates before saying yes. Are they looking for a basic transcriber? Do they expect you to take the position of a ghostwriter and a creative director? In other words, don’t assume. You may think you’re agreeing to typist when what they have in mind is full-on production. Make sure you and your client have a solid understanding of your job title.

If the client is unfamiliar with how ghostwriting, publishing, or creative writing works in general, explain the various aspects and challenges of each one. Again, get an overall idea of what the client expects for the outcome of their project.

Are they leaning toward self-publishing? Express both the advantages and downside of indie publishing along with any key points pertaining to traditional publishing. Go over any wait times or deadlines that may occur during the project.

Do you possess the time, energy, and resources necessary to complete the job? Does the client agree to all the terms and conditions, including fees and fee schedules? Will you charge per page, per word, or per hour?

Speaking of dreams…

Set realistic goals for both yourself and the client. Unless your client also designates you as marketer or promoter, you have no control over the final success or failure of sales. All you can do is present your very best work to the client and wish them success.

Translation: PLEASE have contracts in place. Make sure to include the number of revision allowances in your contract, and specify any additional cost after these limits are exceeded. This is where a pre-discussion of expectations and ideas is imperative.

You Better Recognize

The client’s voice and your voice are different

Stay true to your client’s writing voice, no matter how much you’re compelled to gut something due to personal preference. If your writing style is more scholarly than contemporary, save your style for your own work. We all have our own magic, just like we all have our own personalities. If you come in with bourgeois paragraphs when the client is more into everyday wording, it will show. It could even turn off their readers and fan base.

You need technology as your friend, not your enemy

Familiarize yourself with formatting and coding. If you’re “full-on production”, study up on trim space. Know how to format for electronic (eBook) publishing.

You WILL Fall Apart

You’ll have moments of doubt and frustration. You will periodically lose your mind and temper. You may even need a chiropractor, physical therapist, and anti-inflammatory (trust me).

They Bet’ Recognize

Fame or fortune is far and few

Very few people become famous when reaching for the dream of published author. However, there’s nothing wrong with aiming for the sky. Sometimes writers gain megabillions and movie deals, most times they sell a modest amount of copies and call it a day until their next project.

The transcriber, ghostwriter, creative director, full-on producer is not a Fame-N-Fortune Genie. They are humble servants wanting the best for their client while at the same token wanting to get paid what has been agreed upon via contract. So, be a kind client; don’t deny payment if their part of the assignment is complete.

Set a sales goal, but a realistic one

Unless your collaborator is also assigned promotionals and marketing, please don’t take it out on them if sales are lower than anticipated. Again, this is where clear job duties/title is imperative.

Blow the Most Bucks On the Cover, Especially If Self-publishing

This is one of the most crucial aspects of any project. First, potential readers and purchasers are going to examine a book’s cover. Second, they may check out the first page or paragraph. Then, they’ll flip through to see if you’re about your craft. Eventually, they might zone in on grammar, spelling, etc. The latter is where choosing a proficient and detailed transcriber or ghostwriter also comes in handy.

You’re Both in This Together

If you’re a beginner in the field of ghostwriting, or if you’ve always dreamed of seeing your words somewhere other than your notebooks and journals, don’t give up or feel inadequate. Keep going, keep writing, and continue developing various skills along the way.


Happy Writing! ūüėČ




S Sanders






Okay, okay, I’m a rebel. Do you know how hard it is to choose only thirty books? I have more than that in my three-tier case in my living room, not counting the closet space shelves in my bedroom and the black case in the study room.

Slowly I narrowed down to fifty-one titles (and even that was hard). For the full listing, in no particular order, click at the bottom of this page.

For now, though, here are a few favorites that I’d like to keep…for a while:

Beulah Land by Lonnie Coleman

Sugar by Bernice L McFadden

The Collected Poems by Langston Hughes

The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan

Butterscotch Blues by Margaret Johnson Hodge

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson

The Runaway Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Petals On the Wind by V.C. Andrews

1984 by George Orwell

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Big Girls Don’t Cry by Connie Briscoe

Invisible Life by E Lynn Harris

Random Winds by Belva Plain

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

The Clinic by Kip Langello

The Naked Face by Sidney Sheldon

Curious George by H.A. Rey

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susan

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

The Romantics by Leah Konen

Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

The Day Willie Wasn’t by William Corbin

Continue reading “30 BOOK CHALLENGE”

The Reading Itinerary


…and we continue with even MORE books!

Currently Reading:

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah


Eagerly Awaiting:

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah

Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans


On Bookshelf, Lonely, Waiting for Me to Open:

Sisters & Husbands by Connie Briscoe

Substitute Me by Lori L Tharpes

Longing by Karen Kingsbury

Loving by Karen Kingsbury

The Lost Quilter by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Showing by Beverly Lewis

The Telling by Beverly Lewis

Getting to Happy by Terry McMillian

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson


On the Nook:

Dwelling Places by Vinita Hampton Wright

Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry

The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri

Trails of Blood by Lisa Black

Save Me by Lisa Scottoline


In the Closet:

…(Just kidding:-)

Books, books, and more books!

Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store.
Books in the Douglasville, Georgia Borders store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My aunt is one of those folks with books everywhere. ¬†In the kitchen. ¬†On the couch. In the bathroom. Basically, in every corner and crevice of her apartment. ¬†Often, I’ll drop by and find her reading one novel while stashing a sheet of folded paper in another.

“How do you do that?” I asked one evening.

“Do what?”

“Read more than one story at a time without getting lost.”

“Easy,” she replied.

Let me be the first to tell you, people. ¬†It AIN’T easy!

I bought an electronic reader with part of my short-story winnings (which is a story in itself), but my new-found toy had no books, no magazines, and very little else other than what came with it out of the box. ¬†So, I began shopping. ¬†And I chose several novels and magazines, which I determined I’d peruse later, like when stuck at the doctor’s office, suffering from insomnia, or waiting on Thing 1 and 2 to wrap up practice. ¬†Meanwhile, I also checked out reading material from the library. ¬†(Why go on a buying frenzy when you’re on a budget)

Here’s where the problem started: I began Southern Comfort, also by Fern Michaels, but it was too depressing for my light mood. ¬†The guy’s family is murdered two or three pages into the story. ¬†So, out of restlessness, I began a book I’d downloaded by Debbie Macomber called Starlight. Not one of my usual go-to authors, but hey.

Then, yesterday, I added Save Me, by Lisa Scottoline. (Talk about gripping!)

But before that, I’d begun The Last Promise by Richard Paul Evans.

Now I don’t know if I’m in a villa, a school, or the middle of a crime scene.

What I’m trying to say here is that…I can’t do three or four books at once!






Can you? 

Any suggestions as to what to read next?



I Have Come to These Conclusions…

Suspense has never been my thing. ¬†I can’t take it! That’s why I don’t watch serialized television shows anymore. ¬†Me? ¬†I just wait for the DVD and skip around as I see fit. ¬†To agonize an entire season over whether dude and girl are going to get together, or if ¬†such-n-such is going to “get the ax” (they’re experts on knocking folk’s off on Grey’s), is…too much for my brain to handle.

Same with books. ¬†I tried diligently when my book club read Stephen King’s humongous novel a few years back, the one about the rabbit hole and time travel and JFK. ¬†It was a true page-turner, so much so that somewhere or another, right around the time the lead character’s true mission began, I had to flip to the back, read the last five chapters, and then work my way through the middle.

I do this with magazines, conversation, novels. Everything.

Is this wrong?  Is it?

Anyway, I realized that sustained drama and I don’t mesh well when I began reading ¬†Tuesday’s Child, by Fern Michaels.

I must admit, the story is/was/will be awesome. ¬†I say “is” because I’m still reading. I’m on the part where Sophie has been released and is hiding out in Hawaii. (I’ll tell you the gist of the overall plot in a minute)

The “was” is because I couldn’t stay up till 1 a.m. another night not knowing what was going on! ¬†And the “will be” is because I’ve now read the ending and know that this book is a must read.

So there.

Yes, I’ve somewhat spoiled the excitement and am not as obsessed with reading, but I’ll find my way back to where I left off and complete the book…eventually.

Now, about the book.  Top prosecutor, Kala, represents a twenty-four-year-old nurse who is accused  of murdering her invalid patient. The nurse, Sophie, is found guilty by a jury and spends the next ten years in prison.  Meanwhile, the husband of  Audrey (the deceased) gets off free because there is no evidence to prove he did it.

Kala never believed for a second her client, sweet Sophie, could take Audrey’s life, and has fought in Sophie’s behalf for the past ten years. But just as she’s about to retire and give up on the case for good, Audrey’s husband makes a shocking confession. ¬†Not only does he claim to have murdered his wife, but he leaves the entire estate (which his wife had turned over to him upon marriage) to Sophie. ¬†The only stipulation is that Sophie can’t come into the millions until dude’s death. And unfortunately the man is dying.

So Sophie’s lawyers sue the state for wrongful imprisonment, she gains the estate, and is shipped off until all the media hoopla blows over. Meanwhile, all fingers point to the jury and the opposing lawyer, Ryan Spencer.

Of course, nothing is as it seems.  There are surprises, misjudged characters, and lots of secrets.

Find it. ¬†Read it. Let me know what you thought about it. Tuesday’s Child, by Fern Michaels.

Books and Authors: Bernice L McFadden

Bernice L McFadden came on the scene in 2000 with her debut novel, Sugar, which tells the story of a woman in the late 50’s with a painful past and less-than-stellar lifestyle.

The minute Sugar arrives in the small town of Bigelow, Arkansas, the accusations and labeling begin. “Slut”, and “whore” ring out as she struts down the sidewalk on a spring day in 1955 carrying two suitcases. ¬†Sugar is, in fact, a prostitute, abandoned by her mother and raised by a group of women called the Lacey sisters.

Spell-binding, full of secrets, unspeakable traumas, ties, and friendship, I knew this would be one of those books I looked forward to reading every night before bed. ¬†Just check out McFadden’s description of Sugar on page twelve:

The storm walked into their town on two legs and spiked, red patent leather heels.  She waltzed right through the main square, blond wig bouncing to the rhythm of her walk, a leopard print pocketbook slung over one shoulder, matching suitcases in each hand.

But there was something else about the main character, Sugar, that puzzled the neighbor, Pearl. ¬†(One of the other key characters of the novel) ¬†It was Sugar’s face. ¬†It reminded her of her own daughter, Jude, whose body was found on the side of a dirt road–mutilated, murdered. ¬†Jude, who at an age when most girls began to blossom, had her womanhood taken, cut from her body, and placed alongside her.

Despite the naysayers and Sugar’s cold attitude from years of ¬†being unloved in the way that all women yearn to be loved, Pearl and Sugar form a bond that goes beyond that of neighbors, a bond that neither of them quite realizes the depth of until the end.


Other books I’ve read by Bernice L McFadden:

This Bitter Earth–A must read and the sequel to Sugar. ¬†Want to know who killed Jude and scarred yet another for life? ¬†Want to know why, in the end, you’ll both loathe and empathize with this person? ¬†Care to gain insight into the past lives of Pearl, her husband, Joe, Sugar, Lappy, and even the Lacey sisters? ¬†Then you have to read This Bitter Earth.

Loving Donovan   2003