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! 😉