Things Learned While Ghostwriting

two pink ballpoint pens on table
Photo by Plush Design Studio on

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





Artist & Writer: Monte Robinson

I have shared several of his poems and essays on the blog–BROKEN DOLL, GIVERS VS TAKERS,¬†INCOMPLETE; we’ve collaborated on a few projects, or at least tried (FREESTYLE); and now, Mr. Robinson, aka¬†The Writerly Genius, has finally granted an interview.

Do you agree with the cliché that creative types are misunderstood?
‚ÄčI do‚Ä謆agree with that statement, because of personal experiences and scientific research.¬†Artists are often stereotyped as weirdos, and I think some of that perceived weirdness derives from the creativity we hung onto and expanded throughout our lives. We do not quite fit into the box of what is considered “normal” due to our natural born talent.
I draw, paint, write short stories, and dabble in poetry. Those things require me to think differently than the average person. I think all artists think differently than the average person, which can lead to us being misunderstood. In many cases, I just experience the world in a way that others do not. When I look at real life landscapes, I see them as two dimensional like they were on a canvas. At random times, lines and stanzas just pop into my mind.
From an educator’s standpoint, how would you encourage a young¬†person¬†interested in the Arts? How would you ¬†encourage your younger self?
‚ÄčUsually when students tell me they cannot write poems, short stories, or plays, I reassure them that they have the ability, and they just need to tap into it. Generally, they are afraid that it will not be good enough, so I explain to them that “good” is relative. Some may like it; some may not, so write something that you will enjoy. My mother was very supportive of my artistic side, so I would encourage my younger self the same way she did.
We often hear the term ‚Äúnatural-born talent‚ÄĚ, do you feel we have innate gifts, or is creativity one of those things learned over time?
‚ÄčI believe we are all born with creativity. When left to their own devices, kids come up with some creative ‚Äď sometimes crazy ‚Äď stuff. I think some of us are more developed in specific areas than others, also. My mom said I started drawing at age 3. I remember being in Headstart at age 5 and drawing my own cartoon characters on the back of the pages they gave us to color. I think schools, adults, and the need to fit-in kills the creativity.¬†‚Äč
You’re both an artist and a writer. Which of these was most dominant in your formative years? In later years? Are there¬†similarities in each field?
‚ÄčIn my formative years, I was more of an artist. I did not think of myself as a writer at all. I still don’t. Looking back, I realize that I used to tell short stories to entertain my cousins. It was usually silly stuff, but it fit my age. I really enjoyed drawing, and it garnered lots of support, so it was much more of a factor for most of my life. I only started writing within the last fifteen years after I stopped drawing and painting. It started with blogging. I had a way of getting my point across in story form and that eventually morphed into writing short stories. My ex-wife was a poet, so I kind of started messing around with poetry because of her.‚Äč‚Äč
The similarities between the two are that I am trying to tell a story. The differences are – besides the obvious- I have to find just the right way to tell my story in a single image while drawing versus writing‚Äč‚Ä謆‚Äčwhere I paint the picture with as many or as few words as I like.‚Äč
Imagine you have time to pursue a creative project. What would it be?
‚ÄčI would write a novel. For years now, it has felt like something I was destined to do. It is hard to explain. It just feels like the next step.‚Äč

In one word. Writing is _____________


Composer: James L Revels

You mention that you are a “self-taught” composer. Can you elaborate on that? How did you learn the ins and outs so-to-speak?

The “self-taught” part refers to the music composition and audio engineering. I learned how to do this by practicing engineering on the vocals of my high school friends who used to rap¬†and by¬†making instrumentals in my free time. I will admit I was taught how to read music in elementary, but that didn’t help me when it came time to compose. ¬†I had to learn everything else from books, Google, and experimentation.

Have you always had a passion for music?

I haven’t always had a passion¬†for music.¬† Initially, I wanted to be a writer–specifically poetry–but I came to feel that most people wouldn’t listen to my poems unless they were over music.¬† So, during high school I bought a five-dollar gaming mic, began experimenting with music, and the rest is history.

How many hours a day or week do you work on your music? Tell us what a typical day for James is like.

I practice about 20-40 hours a week depending on my work schedule. A typical day involves waking up at 7 or 8 a.m., then jumping on my keyboard for about an hour. After that, I get online to check the social media and work on a composition or instrument building in Reason.¬† After that, the day is pretty free-form. I could be going to work or going to hang out with my music mates of Radikal Nation as we work on our group album. I’m still an ordinary person, for now ūüôā

In what ways do you promote other artists?  Tell us about some of the venues in which you promote both your music and that of others.

I promote artists primarily on the internet. Particularly, my blog ( or on Radikal Nation’s blog ( RN does have an official website ( which we plan on turning into a place where musicians from all over can network and talk in our forum, but right now¬†the site is in its infancy. We are still gathering support for it.

Any advice for those looking to get into  composing and/or writing music?

I’d say, “network almost as much as you practice,” because what’s the point of having music that no one is going to know about and listen to?

Five contemporary artists you admire and five legendary and/or old school artists you look up to:

1. Zun

2. Masashi Hamauzu


4. Fall Out Boy

5. Nobuo Uematsu


1. Nas (lyrically)

2. Claude Debussy

3. Jimi Hendrix

4. Gustov Holst

5. Modest Mussorgsky

Who or what inspires your music?

Curiosity inspires my music the most. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe said, “Geometry is frozen music.” I take this completely literal, and I’m trying to see how far I can take that idea. It’s better understood with a few pictures of my note [I’ve attached a few pictures for you]

In one word, music is __________



Radikal¬†Nation Presents…Ś§ŹÁāȌܨśČá Karo TŇćsen¬†(Summer Heater, Winter Fan) and XXXplicit¬†CompleXXXion¬†Series. Karo is my 45 minute summer project which takes you through a variety of sounds and is practice for my first album which is¬†to be released as soon as I upgrade to Reason 7. You should download it so you don’t miss out on the 6 download exclusive tracks. (
XXXplicit¬†CompleXXXion¬†Series by Divine Linez¬†is a sensual 4 track mixtape¬†for those who have some extra freakiness¬†they just can’t seem to release. Unlike the average sex rapper, Divine Line brings the aesthetic of a poet,¬†while still being raw and frank. Whether you prefer a Mz. Dark, Brown, or Light Skin ,or happen to be¬†a Miss¬†yourself, I’m sure you will find a track for you. (
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Thank you, James, for an excellent interview. Best wishes on your new release.
Interviewed by Shonte’ S¬† aka Whatevertheyaint

Untitled (8-14-13)

Impress upon our minds a kiss,

a smooth caress and linger still

amid our dreams, nocturnal bliss

And we’ll drink the words until

the day arrives, expressions cease,

and lucid conscience is released

Unto the world our souls return

Until tomorrow spirits yearn






*Any suggestions for a title? Do share under comments.

Thinkin’… Music & Artforms: Frank Ocean

So I came to the song late.¬† And maybe I’m not as hip to the music game as I used to be.¬† And perhaps I ceased tuning in to the radio¬†because every¬†song consisted of¬†getting into bed,¬†leaving a club,¬†grinding while¬†in¬†a club, or getting one’s drank on.¬†¬†Ain’t knocking the music hustle,¬† just grew tired of the lack of creativity.

But that changed on the way home one night.

On this night, someone called my name,¬†my middle name, the six-letter word add apostrophe that only a¬†few¬†know.¬†I didn’t stop, but¬†it came again– spoken softly, the way¬†only one person could.¬†My¬†feet¬†came to a¬†halt as I¬†cautiously looked around.¬† And that’s when I saw him.

You know that awkward moment¬†when you haven’t seen someone in eons (in this case, a decade)¬†and you don’t know whether to nod, shake hands, side pat, or ignore them altogether?¬†¬†I went for the nod;¬†he¬†chose¬†the¬†bear hug.¬†¬† So, I immediately withdrew, the way any sane, legally attached,¬†content/happily married woman would.¬†¬†Gave the standard, “Good seeing you,” which, basically¬†translates¬†into a cordial¬†buh-bye.

For good measure, I added, “Yeah,¬†really¬† have to go.¬†¬†Need to pick up such-n-such and after that,¬†I have to such-n-stuff-n-such.”¬†Then I got in my car and, by chance, turned on the radio.¬†What did I hear?¬†Some dude talking¬†about Idaho and California.¬† But I kept listening.¬† And then he hit¬†falsetto:¬† “But…do you…not…think¬†so far…ahead…”

I turned the volume higher as I rounded the corner.  I listened.  And smiled.

Frank Ocean

Channel Orange


Faves on constant repeat:

  • Thinkin’ Bout You
  • Pink Matter
  • Sierra Leone
  • White (Should have been a song but some tight-boss jazz!)
  • Sweet Life
  • Super Rich Kids
  • Pilot Jones
  • Bad Religion
  • Forrest Gump
  • Pyramids