Not Your Average Ghost: Ghostwriting for Every Writer


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Think ghostwriting is reserved for those with $1 million book deals and celebrity bio connections? Think again. This ghoulish service can encompass everything from blog posts to magazine and tech writing ... and writers of all stripes can benefit from the ghostwriter's point of view. Learn more about ghostwriting with Erin Blakemore, who will teach you tips and tricks from a veteran ghost's unexpected perspective. From finding ghostwriting opportunities to taking on your client's voice, you'll learn everything you need to know to add ghostwriting to your bag of writerly wiles.

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  • branding boot camp Voco Creative, LLC
  • Not Your Average Ghost: Ghostwriting for Every Writer

    1. 1. Not Your Average Ghost Ghostwriting for Every Writer Presented by Erin M. Blakemore VOCO Creative Boulder Writers Alliance, July 22 2008
    2. 2. <ul><li>Ghostwriting is hot! </li></ul><ul><li>Why I know: I’ve been ghosting for years in my capacity as a freelance writer and owner of VOCO Creative, a branding company based in Denver and Boulder, Colorado. </li></ul><ul><li>You should come away from this presentation with a sense of the following: </li></ul><ul><li>Why ghostwriting is hot </li></ul><ul><li>Whether you could already be a ghostwriter </li></ul><ul><li>How to get intentional about ghostwriting and snagging clients </li></ul><ul><li>The goals of ghostwriting </li></ul><ul><li>Secrets of successful ghostwriting </li></ul><ul><li>When it’s worth it…and when it isn’t </li></ul>
    3. 3. Trust me. It’s hot. This growing profession has been garnering major media attention in recent months…from listings in the New York Times as one of the most well-paid growing professions to a recent article on ghostwriting and ego. On average, full-time ghosts earn $60k or more…not too shabby for a creative profession. And our country’s celebrity obsession has increased the demand for talented ghosts ready to write celebrity memoirs and novels. In fact, ghostwritten books can rake in from $15,000 to $150,000 and up. In addition, the rise of the Internet is encouraging businesspeople to seek passive income online, creating demand for well-written ebooks and informative content.
    4. 4. There’s a secret you might not know about ghostwriting… … you could already be a ghostwriter!
    5. 5. <ul><li>Think you’re not a ghostwriter? Think again. </li></ul><ul><li>If you’ve ever: </li></ul><ul><li>Drafted business correspondence… </li></ul><ul><li>Written a blog entry in someone else’s voice… </li></ul><ul><li>Used the word “I” in a piece you wrote for someone else… </li></ul><ul><li>Written an article published under someone else’s name… </li></ul><ul><li>Done work for hire… </li></ul><ul><li>Done unacknowledged research for all or part of a report or technical document… </li></ul><ul><li>Contributed to medical or scientific writing without attribution… </li></ul><ul><li>… you’re a ghostwriter! </li></ul>
    6. 6. My definition of ghostwriting: Outsourced writing you don’t get credit for.
    7. 7. But I’m not a ghostwriter! That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from a ghost’s perspective! Even if you’re not a ghostwriter and have no interest in becoming one, your writing can benefit from a ghostwriter’s approach to her client’s voice.
    8. 8. Getting intentional about ghostwriting – and articulating your worth to your clients – can boost your writing business.
    9. 9. Finding ghostwriting work: a primer Reframe your current experience: Go through your portfolio and pull out the pieces you can “rebrand” as ghosted. Play up the benefits: Ghostwriting has a fabulous unique selling proposition. You do the writing…your client gets the credit (and the profits!) What could be better than that? When you frame ghostwriting as an investment, your client will follow with enthusiasm. Prepare for long-term relationships: Getting to know a client’s unique goals and voice isn’t a one-shot deal. If you’re not willing to get to know your client’s needs, be flexible, and work to spec, you’re probably not ready to ghost.
    10. 10. <ul><li>More tips on finding ghostwriting work </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare for an uphill battle: Let’s face it: educating the client is the most arduous and boring part of a writer’s profession. </li></ul><ul><li>People don’t know what ghostwriting is </li></ul><ul><li>They don't know why it would benefit them or how it can save or earn them money </li></ul><ul><li>They don't know how ghosting fits into a marketing strategy </li></ul><ul><li>They don't trust another person to speak in &quot;their&quot; voice </li></ul><ul><li>The excuses are endless. your role: gentle educator. </li></ul><ul><li>Convincing unwilling or uncertain clients: Try an “entry-level” project like a light edit of a document in their voice or a well-written sample. For which you get paid, of course! </li></ul>
    11. 11. <ul><li>Clients who need </li></ul><ul><li>ghostwriting services </li></ul><ul><li>People in service professions </li></ul><ul><li>Left-brainers </li></ul><ul><li>People who don’t have time to write and pitch articles but want to take their careers to the next level </li></ul>
    12. 12. Your goal as a ghostwriter: Elicit the “Wow, that sounds like me! …Only better!” reaction from clients.
    13. 13. <ul><li>Avoid like the plague: </li></ul><ul><li>People who want you to write their memoirs…but don’t have a book deal or any money to pay you. </li></ul><ul><li>Offers that sound too good to be true. The old adage is there for a reason, people. </li></ul><ul><li>Academic ghostwriting. NO. Term paper mills might be good for a quick buck, but they sully your reputation and cheapen the profession. Just don’t. </li></ul>
    14. 14. Now on to the good stuff…the secrets of successful ghostwriting. First thing’s first:
    15. 15. Lose your ego. In order to be a successful ghostwriter, you need to be willing to let others take all the credit. Can’t handle your masterpiece appearing without your byline? You might not be ready to ghost. Understand your position as a ghostwriter: a worker-for-hire whose aim is to make someone else money. Suspend your need to control and micromanage the process. Let go of the need to dominate every word.
    16. 16. Become a chameleon. To succeed as a ghostwriter, you need to be able to analyze and recreate the ideal voice of your client. Learn to assess a person’s qualities, unique characteristics, and memorable turns of speech. This is the fun stuff about being a writer. Don’t be afraid to speak in someone else’s voice! Take a leap and be brave.
    17. 17. Change is good. Your success as a ghostwriter will be directly proportional to your willingness to change. When you’re taking on someone else’s voice, things get personal. Respect the trust placed in you by your client. Don’t cling to every edit. Realize that your task is twice as hard…and that you relinquish some degree of creative control when you take on work for hire. At the same time, don’t throw your boundaries overboard. Be firm and polite…and specify number of edits and iterations to avoid edit-happy clients. Consider instituting a rush fee.
    18. 18. Take a risk! The client doesn’t necessarily always know best…that’s why they hired a writer! Step into your role as a consultant and consult when necessary. It can be scary to take on a point of view that’s unfamiliar or uncomfortable. Do your homework. At the same time, the lack of responsibility (or a byline with your name on it) can push you to new heights! Work it!
    19. 19. Moving on up Continue to grow your business as a ghost…get ready to capitalize on your experience by collecting samples (and negotiating contract terms that allow you to show them). Brand yourself as a ghostwriter. Make connections within the writing community…you never know what you’ll find. At the same time, be prepared for the challenge you’ll face if you’re seeking huge gigs. You need to be able to prove that you can write publishable work and that you have subject-specific expertise. Long story short: don’t ever quit writing under your own name!
    20. 20. When is it worth it? Ghostwriting (and relinquishing that precious byline) is worth it when… … the price is right … the work is interesting … you can use the work to market yourself later (consider discreet editing, anonymous samples, or personal references for future work)
    21. 21. When isn’t it worth it? … when the client spells trouble (lack of follow-through, refusal to pay a deposit, treats others poorly, is a “frustrated artist,” lowballs you) … when you’re not getting paid enough … when the work puts you in an ethical bind
    22. 22. Whether you’re ready to move on or not… Work it: Just because your project was super-secret doesn’t mean you can’t reference the “work you did for a multinational oil firm”! Know your contractual obligations and be discreet! Do your best: So it isn’t in your name. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your best professional effort. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Have boundaries: Gentle, firm boundaries can keep you from being the ghost who fades into the woodwork!
    23. 23. Like what you see? Consider VOCO Creative! Our brand strategy, Internet marketing, Web and graphic design, search engine optimization, copywriting, public relations consulting, and savvy promotions serve as a sure cure for the common one-size-fits-all approach. Express your values…reach your goals…then measure the results. Contact VOCO today at [email_address] or 720.381.2460 for more information.