Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do you believe in ghosts?

Recently, I read an article somewhere (possibly on Writers' Digest) about ghostwriting. It got me to thinking about whether or not I would.


In short, ghostwriting is writing, then giving someone else the byline for your work. Some ghost-writers are recognised as co-authors. Some are not recognised at all, and legally bound not to tell anyone they had any contact with the book.


Ghostwriting is most common in non-fiction. Justin Bieber doesn't have the time (and probably not the skills) to write his auto-biography, so if he chose to produce one, he'd probably pay a ghostwriter to do it for him.

Another area that popular for ghostwriting is series, especially the children's series where a book is produced every few months. There is no way 1 writer could turn out a book every 2 months. And if there was, it could not make it through the editorial process that quickly.

You'll also sometimes see ghostwritten where an author has died mid-book or mid-series.

There are a few things you need to become a ghostwriter.

A portfolio- You have to prove you can write before you even start the job.

Writing skills- More so than writing under your own name, you need to be on top of spelling and grammar. If you have to turn in the work to the client before an agent/editor and you've mispelled 3 words on the first page, he's not going to be thrilled.

Flexibility- Since you're writing to a client's specification, you need to able to adjust yourself to their demands.

Research skills: In non-fiction, especially memoir, ghostwriting will involve listening to the client, and trying to get them to tell you the best parts of their story. You may also be called upon to supplement what your client says with information you have to look up yourself.

Ability to meet deadlines: Theoretically, you should already be cultivating this as a writer. It's even more important when you ghostwrite, because it's not your name on the line.

- Ghostwriting pays more steadily (and more, in general) than being a mid-list author. Generally, however, it pays a flat fee.

- Ghostwriting is good practice. Ghostwriters write fairly consistently, so if they're ever inspired to use their own name, they've already put in a lot of work.

- Ghostwriters don't come up with their own ideas. If you have issues coming up with or evaluating ideas, writing someone else's story can take away the pressure.

- If you don't care about the fame and the name, and just want to know your book is out there.

While I would love to be employed to write a book in one of my favourite series, I'm not sure I could ghostwrite. I don't want to lose my creative freedom, and even though I'm not in it for the fame, I can't imagine my name not being attached to my book.

Would you ghostwrite?


Marsha Sigman said...

No. I just couldn't do it. I don't expect to be rich or famous but my name on something I created for the world...that's very important to me.

Glam,Glitz&Gut said...

I think I could, just to give myself some more confidence and some experience.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I am nowhere near the level required to ghostwrite! I admire those who are capable though.

Sidrah said...

Only if Jared Leto or Gerard Butler ask me to be their ghost-writer =p