Well, before I even think about returning to my own fiction, I’ve decided to power-through the first half of my latest copyedit to get it finished.
The author of the novel and I have agreed that I’ll finish the prepaid first half, then bow out of the project. It’s just too rough.
In related news, I’ve recently added several “new” inappropriate tag line verbs to my list. I’ll be publishing those in a topic here soon, and in my ProWriters blog in the future.
Not sure when this Journal will go “daily” again, if ever. But I do suspect I’ll at least be publishing it more often once I’ve put this edit behind me.
I’m also not sure of the form it will take. I’ll continue to include boring tidbits about my blasé life for those who like that sort of thing, and I’ll continue to share tips and knowledge you probably can’t find anywhere else.
In the meantime, from my friend Dan Baldwin, here’s a guest topic for you, reprinted by permission.
So You Want to Be a Ghostwriter
I have written more than 60 books, but five out of six have someone else’s name on the cover. Oh, I usually get some form of writer’s credit, but that’s often in the Acknowledgements section printed upside down in 6-point Mandarin Chinese.
But author credit isn’t why someone pursues ghostwriting projects — unless it’s to gain credit with other authors who need ghostwriters.
Ghostwriters are in the business to make money or to gain the experience that will lead to that money. If you’re considering ghostwriting, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Tip #1. You’re Not the Author — You Only Write the Book.
Keep your ego out of the project. That goes for your desires to win the Golden Ghost Award for Best Acknowledgement, your personal opinions or cause du jour, or what you think your author really ought to say. It’s his (or her) book. Keep it that way.
Tip #2. KISS Your Author.
Keep It Simple, Stupid. Most books are written at the eighth grade level. Why? Because just about everybody in America has at least graduated from the eighth grade. Everybody gets the message (or at least can read the message) when you write at that level.
Tip #3. Make Sure the Price is Right.
What is the right price for a ghostwriting project? I’ll answer with another question: How hungry are you?
The amount of writing, research, client hand-holding, and expenses will vary from project to project. Get a handle on as much of this as possible before quoting a price. Know how much you need to earn from a given job and start at a figure above that. Life as a ghostwriter is a life of negotiating. Have a rate or a fee in mind, but don’t hesitate to adjust according to the level of rumbling in your stomach.
Tip #3a. If the would-be client says, “I’m pretty famous for my memos around here, heh-heh,” double your fee.
Tip #4. Your Client Must Know He is Part of the Project.
I had a potential client tell me, “Just go to the Internet and you can get everything you need.” My response was, “Well, then what do I need you for?”
Fortunately, the potential client was a friend who took my response in the right frame of mind. The writer carries the heavier burden in terms of work, but the project must be a cooperative effort. It’s his book; he has to earn that name on the cover.
Tip #5. You Don’t Have to Believe What Your Client Believes.
But know where to draw the line. Provided you remember that you are the writer not the author, a Republican can ghostwrite for a Democrat. A Christian can ghostwrite for a non-believer. A “My Country Right or Wrong” guy can ghostwrite for a “Peace at Any Price” guy.
When you take on a ghostwriting project, you are hiring out. Once you accept the job, you can be loyal to your client without being loyal to his cause.
Tip #6. Understand that at Some Point Things are Going to Go South.
Something inevitably comes up to extend the agreed upon deadline, foul the research efforts, or get between you and that final payment. Provided the client doesn’t abuse the privilege, put up with as much as you can, finish the job, and earn something worth its weight in gold — a good referral.
I have on rare occasions walked away from a job, but I did so in a way that maintained a level of respect, courtesy, and integrity. I have also finished and been fully paid by clients I will never work with again. One of your best ghostwriting resources is a mental file labeled I Will Never Do THAT Again.
Tip #7. Clients Should Pay as They Go.
As Dr. Laura said about promises of marriage made in the steamy back seat of a sedan on a lonely road, “Unless you have a ring and a date, you don’t have squat.”
I think I got that quote fairly right — certainly the meaning. Your client must be invested in the project or in his mind it’s not a real project. Invest is the key word. Get an up-front payment and then stagger payments on a pay-as-we-go basis.
So, you want to be a ghostwriter. Go for it. Just follow a few basic business rules so that the experience isn’t a scary one.
(For a bit more on ghostwriting, check out http://www.danbaldwin.biz.)
Quote of the Week: “Most men make little use of their speech than to give evidence against their own understanding.” George Savile
Dan’s Western novel, Bock’s Canyon, is a Winner in the Best Book Awards 2017. His latest Western novel, A Stalking Death, is a Finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards competition. His non-fiction work for writers and IP attorneys, How Find Me Lost Me — A Breach of Trust Told By The Psychic Who Didn’t See It Coming, earned a Finalist award in the Best Book Awards and the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards competition. And his short stories “Diddy” and “Lurlene Hurlbutt’s Flatline” earned a commendation in the Society of Southwestern Authors Writing Contest.
A Few Websites Dan Recommends
Not much out there today that I could find.
Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 200 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 200
Writing of “”
Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXX (done)
Total fiction words for the month……… XXXX
Total fiction words for the year………… 453762
Total nonfiction words for the month… 2160
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 177713
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 631475
Calendar Year 2017 Novels to Date………………………… 9
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)………………………………………… 27
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)……………………………………… 4
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)……………………………… 182