Today’s goal: Answer the door when joy knocks. Don’t wait for a better time, a time when you’re ready for it, a time when you think you deserve it. Open the door. Keep moving.
— Maggie Smith (@maggiesmithpoet) June 2, 2019
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! 😉
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
The last time someone told me the truth it only proved the other truths were lies
So excuse me if I rummage through old baggage in search of something new
Unpacking has taken a while I’ll admit, and most of this stuff needs a garbage
Then I could make room for something better; then I could make space for you
Is that too heavy?
Saying so won’t make me think any less. Saves us both time.
Understand I’m a little broken. Except I’m real about it. See, that’s all I’m looking for–honesty.
sms aka whatevertheyaint
Initially, there’s this raw space. We may wonder how it got there, or more importantly, why it’s there. Perhaps we conditioned ourselves early in life to bandage wounds and carry on, so we slap a Band-Aid on it until it festers, not realizing that giving it time to breathe is better than covering it over.
Then, somewhere during the process, a scab forms. There’s this protective layer now, and we go about our daily routines as we did before. That is until we accidentally bump that spot, exposing it again. Maybe we overestimated ourselves, or maybe we were just trying to…forget. In any event, there it is. And yes, it still hurts.
An undetermined amount of time passes, and we notice the scab is now a smooth scar. We run our fingers over it, remembering that unsightly place. But we can do it now, we can run our hand across that area. It reminds us that grief cut us open. Yet, we survived.
- I can only speak for my own experiences. Like most people, there have been more than a few negative events in my life, but I learned to just acknowledge them and allow myself to go through the process. This poem came from waiting on a sore to heal on my leg and then, at random (which tends to happen when I’m ready for my brain to SHUT DOWN), thinking how wounds are a lot like the process of grieving, or dealing with any life-changing event.
Where did you go, you know, the person? Not the one we see but the you inside.
Where did you go? You let them strip you of your joy, your energy, your light.
Lose who you are and you become a collage of everything and everyone else.
Feeling some sort of way that I can’t define. Is it depression? Frustration? Inertia? My writer’s brain says “caged” but that’s a bit dramatic. It’s a long story that I suppose my conscience has nudged me about before. Something has been trying to tell me something for years.
So when do you say, enough is enough? When do you just…free fall? Is there anything besides concrete down there when I jump?
The abridged version of this story is that the current circumstances aren’t working, at all. However, being the overly cautious thinker I am, I’m reluctant to just open a window and plummet. It seems impractical to starve while happy, and yet it’s crazy to make money while sacrificing one’s self, family, and sanity. Tis the world we live in. We learn to become collages.
I eventually retired from retail in 2012 due to health issues and a couple of surgeries, one of which didn’t go well. Now, because of more life changes, I find myself at yet another crossroad.
True, I’ve enjoyed the freedom of being fully present when it comes to family. And in hindsight, things happened that I don’t know if I could’ve dealt with while working full-time–serious illnesses, the death of my father, marital separation.
It baffles me that I got more writing done while working thirty to forty hours, with two small children, than I do without a binding schedule and with kids old enough to occupy themselves. I’ve enjoyed watching them grow, I’ve also missed the security of steady paychecks. I’m saying this to say that happiness doesn’t come from circumstance. Happiness is a state of mind, period. But we have to figure out who we are, what we want, and how we’ll balance our true callings with the titles society places upon us.
Who are you? Where did you go? Lose who you are and you become a collage of everything and everyone else.
In definition of “inner calling” how would you define yourself?
In terms of societal titles, name at least three that describe you.
If you’re not being true to yourself, what’s the reason?
Map out a way to get back to the real you 😉
In definition of inner calling, I’d define myself as: a writer, an empath, a peacemaker
In terms of societal titles, I’d describe myself as: a mother, an estranged spouse, an introvert who knows how to play it off when necessary
I’m not true to myself because: I’m not a fan of failure, abstract ideas, or what-ifs
And yes, I’m mapping out a way of getting back to the real me 🙂