Although a ghostwriter’s life is less adventurous than presented in Roman Polanski’s movie ‘The Ghost Writer’, this profession is quickly becoming one of the most popular career paths for aspiring writers.
Many celebrities and social media influencers use secret helpers to communicate with the public, write personal books and autobiographies and even announce intimate events such as the birth of children or breakups with their loved ones.
Ghostwriters rub shoulders with both popular rappers and corporate blog editors, which makes you wonder how you can enter this lucrative market and use your professional writing skills in a radically different way. Below are the 10 steps that can assist you on this journey.
1. Start Small…
Ghostwriting may be a highly lucrative sphere for both amateur and experienced writers. However, you have to pass the initial trials and tribulations before you achieve a steady demand of orders and become a full-time professional. To pass this temporary period, it may be wise to organise a backup source of income and allocate several hours every single day to developing your ghostwriting skills and relationship network.
Starting a professional career in any area takes time, especially if you are a novice. Remain persistent, price your services in accordance with your current skills and you will get there sooner than you think.
2. … But Think Big
It takes years to build a reputation, and only a few mistakes may ruin your established track record. Before you have solid credentials, it is a good idea to avoid multi-tasking and fully focus on a single project at a time. Remember that developing professional skills and a good portfolio may be the fastest route to the top ghostwriting league.
Hence, invest time and resources into your development instead of trying to take as many orders as possible at the beginning of your career. Choose your long-term strategy and focus on a single goal to break on through to the other side.
3. Choose Your Primary Field of Expertise
Professional authors can succeed in multiple areas of writing. However, even these seasoned veterans have their strongest spheres that are usually associated with their education, professional interests or personal experiences. Top academic writers typically have very homogenous profiles and work only with topics that are related to each other. While writing on multiple topics may look smart in terms of taking more potential orders, a Jack of All Trades usually remains a master of low-wage generic writing.
4. Gain Experience in the Selected Sphere
For a beginning ghostwriter, choosing a single field of expertise and working hard to maximise the knowledge of this area can allow him or her to quickly become a demanded expert and increase the pricing.
To do this, you need to make sure that you can consistently produce high-quality content on a regular basis, which requires expertise. Studying professional sources may be a good start for completing multiple orders in the targeted sphere and putting this theoretical knowledge into practice is the key to real mastery.
5. Choose Your Favorite Content Type
Although ghostwriting has been traditionally associated with writing books, there is a growing demand for smaller pieces of work such as reports, articles, newsletters, etc.
On the one hand, these formats may be more accessible for beginners in this sphere as few publishers today hire new authors to write auto-biographies of celebrities.
On the other hand, smaller orders may also be a good source of income in your future career to support you in the process of long-term orders with distant delivery dates.
6. Focus on Your Client…
Most ghostwriters have extraordinary writing skills that are necessary for this career. However, you are paid for being the voice of your client who needs to tell his or her story.
To do this, you need to keep under control many important details such as the choice of suitable words, written speech style, background experience and personal life philosophy. Learning more about textual analysis and reading through a large number of customer materials may be a perfect starting point for effectively conveying the ideas of your clients.
7. … But Make Your Own Contribution
At the same time, you are hired for this job because the customer may be equally uncertain on how to properly convey his or her thoughts in writing. As a professional in this sphere, you have more expertise and a greater knowledge of how the industry works and what can be done to improve the outcomes.
Hence, your contribution and advice may be necessary and even expected in some cases. While a direct interview may not always be possible due to confidentiality reasons, asking some questions through intermediaries may be a good way to establish contact and put your customer at ease.
8. Develop Your Networking Skills
Even though online platforms provide new methods of reaching potential clients, the covert art of ghostwriting still relies on the tried-and-true word-of-mouth method. Creating a book is a personal and daunting task for many customers. Knowing your ghostwriter of choice personally or through trusted recommendations can alleviate a large share of this stress and uncertainty. Therefore, you should also become a member of reliable industry associations such as the Association of Ghostwriters and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
9. Learn More about Book Publishing
Performing ghostwriting tasks via third-party aggregators alleviates some of the stress associated with ‘what shall we do with the text after it is completed’ stage. However, answering this question may be the key for getting direct orders and becoming a one-stop-shop for your customers.
Major publishing houses, online book retailers such as Amazon.com and other distributors have various compliance standards that should be incorporated into the structure and contents of new books in order to secure a deal. Knowing how to guarantee high acceptance rates with industry leaders may be the key to becoming a highly popular ghostwriter.
10. Think Outside the One-Off Box
Being a professional ghostwriter does not mean that you should always operate on the one-off principle. Think about writing with your client rather than for your client. By learning more about his or her individuality, personal style, preferences and unique traits, you can really move your relationship on the next level and become his or her personal ghostwriter.
Suggest new ideas for books and blog publications. Learn how to increase your value by understanding your clients’ subliminal hints and motivations. Demonstrate professionalism and the readiness to walk an extra mile to ensure superior results. Be there for your client.
As of 2018, ghostwriting is progressing from an exclusive celebrity writing service to a popular way of solving personal writing tasks. This market offers almost unlimited potential for new writers seeking an alternative to traditional formats. Ghostwriting also has such limitations as anonymity and confidentiality that may avert some people seeking a more creative path to financial and personal success.
It is worth noting that professional ghostwriters may charge up to $75,000 for a regular non-fiction book, which can be viewed as a highly attractive professional development path. In addition to that, this line of work is very effective for working on your personal writing style and establishing valuable contacts in the industry to prepare for launching your own writing career in the future.