In every copywriter’s life there is a desire to take on something more serious than writing advertising texts or blogging. Some people are thinking about ghostwriting. Who are the authors of the phantom, how do they differ from the copywriters and is it worth taking this path?
Many autobiographical books of known characters have authors: the celebrity and the writer himself, whose name was printed in smaller print. In practice, this means that it was him who conducted a series of conversations with his “co-author”, and then developed the material and … he wrote his autobiography.
This is just one of several examples of ghostwriter services. Why do you hear so little about them and why is it difficult to find a ghostwriter who made an international career? We are introducing the secrets of this field of freelancing.
Who is the ghostwriter and his clients?
Dictionary definitions define a ghostwriter as one who creates books, articles, texts, speeches or presentations on behalf of another person who is referred to or considered the author of a given publication.
Who uses the services of ghostwriters? They are mainly public people who do not have enough free time to write a book themselves. The same applies to specialists who have extensive knowledge in their field, but they lack the skill or the ease of transferring ideas.
Copywriter and ghostwriter
The most important condition of a ghostwriter’s work is … being hidden and ruthless discretion. For obvious reasons, most people prefer to be the authors of their biographies, scientific papers, specialist texts for blogs or expert articles.
This is the main difference between a ghostwriter and a copywriter. The latter is fully recognizable and can gain a certain reputation. Copywriters are quite deliberately working on making a brand and care about projects added to the portfolio. For potential ghostwriters, their discretion is more important than the portfolio.
Both of these professions, however, have several features in common. They require a light pen, impeccable technique and adjusting the message style to its content. Like a good copywriter, a ghostwriter must be able to imitate the style of expression of his character to create a credible and convincing text. An important element of both professions is also accurate research and verification of the collected information.
Ghostwriter – legal basis and ethics
From the legal point of view, the text created by the ghostwriter is protected by copyright. Under the agreement concluded by both parties – the ghostwriter and its principals – the phantom author usually renounces proprietary copyrights. In practice, this means that if a book written by him is successful, he can not count on royalties or any other property benefits.
Author’s personal rights relate to the designation of authorship, the inviolability of form and content, and the decision to first make available to the public and further supervision. From the point of view of Polish law, they are non-transferable, so they can not be transferred or sold to other people. Ghostwriter voluntarily agrees to their partial limitation.
Is writing someone’s name ethical? In many cases it is difficult to find something reprehensible: the hero of the text participates in the creation of the publication, gives interviews, conducts talks or provides necessary materials. The role of the ghostwriter is to organize the collected messages and give them the right shape. In many cases, the publication of an autobiographical book has the character of an image-creating action, and here the author’s spectrum-copywriter’s talents come to the aid.
Good and bad sides of a ghostwriter’s work
Unlike most writers, a ghostwriter does not have to worry about the sales results of his book – his pay does not depend on the popularity of the book.
However, there are people who need to interact with their recipients, feedback and recognition if they enjoy their creativity and joy at work. As a ghostwriter, you decide that your work will be signed with a different name. All compliments, praise and distinctions will not be given to you, only to the “author” of your book.
Ghostwriterowi is also harder to build a portfolio. In this case, you are on goodwill and good memory of your client. You can count on references and recommendations, but you will not receive them in writing.
Why is ghostwriting so attractive? Above all, it gives you the opportunity to meet interesting people, also experts in specific fields and learn from them. Contrary to appearances, the ghostwriter’s work also has a lot of artistry. Your role is not only to write down the client’s statement, but to capture what is between the lines: character, beliefs, many years of experience, sometimes the message of the whole life.
How to become a ghostwriter?
Few people have heard about ghostwriters and few know people working in this profession. Announcements about the search for ghostwriters are also rare. So how to become a ghostwriter and gain the necessary experience? We already know that ghostwriters usually do not boast of their portfolio nor do they advertise on websites.
This field of freelanceing is more based on networking and commands from satisfied clients. What can you do to get your first job as a ghostwriter?
Networking. Look for, above all, politicians, businessmen, innovators, artists – all whose life achievements are rich enough to be interested in writing autobiographies. If you mention the right number of people about being a writer, they can admit that they are also working on the book themselves. Not necessarily from the first meeting they will be open to a proposal for cooperation or transfer of work to a book. However, they can use your services as an editor or editor. If you show tact, discretion and high competences, you have a chance that they will expand your scope of responsibilities and recommend you to friends.
Write variously. Are you specializing in fiction, using a beautiful poetic language, or feeling great about creating complex criminal plots? Excellently. Write a good report for your balance, invest time and effort in creating non-fiction literature. Contact your local newspaper and suggest that you write text for them. Needless to say, only payment after publication is at stake, right?
Take care of the image. In this you will need a blog – it will serve as your portfolio as a substitute for the work under which you can not officially sign. Another point is the pricing of your services: at the beginning, accept the rate offered to you. After writing the first book, when you verify your options, it will be time to renegotiate it. It will also be easier for you to determine whether to set a rate based on the page or the time worked – a lot depends on whether the client will provide you with the help of the researcher.
Use the help of an agent. This is not yet a popular solution in Poland, but you can try to establish cooperation with an agent. His tasks will be to facilitate your contacts with potential clients and help in the organization of work.
Types of orders
You can assume that there are four types of orders for ghostwriters.
These are, for example, sales texts or customer information signed by the head of department, president or other person in the company. They have a sales or information character and one common feature: they are not written by those who subscribe to them.
their idea, their words
It is a case of cooperation between a ghostwriter and a person who has an idea for a book or knowledge to communicate, but lacks the skill, skills or time. The role of the ghost-maker is to listen to the client, register conversations and give shape to the statements.
their idea, your words
It may also happen that the busy client will not have time to talk or prepare the content for publication, but only to outline the publication plan and the outline of the content. Then the role of the ghostwriter is to reach the necessary materials and convert the loose concept into a book that will sound like a principal.
your idea, your words
The type of orders that leave the maximum freedom and … they cost a lot of effort. The ghostwriter has to come up with the subject of the publication himself, collect the materials and literally “speak” with the voice of his client. His role, in turn, is limited to accepting (or not) the final version.
This type of ghostwriting is also keeping accounts of celebrities on social networks.
Stages of the ghostwriter’s work
Sometimes the client will have an outline, an idea for a book or text, sometimes creating a book concept will belong to the ghostwriter. If the ghostwriter appears more as a co-author, he will also be responsible for creating the content of the publication.
Conversations and recordings
Ghostwriter starts work from conducting interviews and conversations with his hero. It is important to collect as many recordings as possible – conversations, public speeches, speeches, lectures.
If the client is a public person involved in political or economic activities, he / she will certainly have information brochures, party programs, statutes and other forms of print that are valuable sources of information.
Another source of search are press and television archives. Some ghostwriters can count on the collaboration of researchers who will get the information they need and carefully verify it.
When the ghostwriter has accumulated several (overtime) interview hours, he must develop and rewrite them. Usually, a one-to-five hour transcription of an hour’s conversation! Some ghostwriters use the services of typists, but it must be a trustworthy person who understands the confidential nature of the work.
When the material is already collected, the ghostwriter can start writing. The finished book, of course, is presenting her hero for possible corrections – the most important thing is to sound like a person who signs it with his name! That is why a ghostwriter has to count on more changes and amendments than commercial copywriters usually report. Unlike a copywriter, the ghost author can not discuss and argue with the client. Ultimately, he is not the author!
Beginning ghostwriters are not easy to make this their main source of income. However, they can use their skills as copywriters. It is not a job suitable for every freelancer writing, but it gives the opportunity and cooperation with well-known, interesting people and artistic fulfillment. The most important thing is to maintain discretion, be patient with patches and … reconcile with anonymity.
Does ghostwriting have a chance to prove yourself as a job for you?