About Ghostwriting


     What is ghostwriting? Many people ask, yet very few use the service, usually because they already have a pretty good idea of what they want to write and how to do it. However, there are many folks out there who want to write something, but just don't really know what they want to put into words and how to do it. Ghostwriting may be for them.

     Maybe they think the service is simply far too expensive to consider? However, I'm not in the business to make money out of it. I've charged a few people a little to do some work for them, but others I've just helped get started on the writing. I didn't really know what I was doing when I started writing and now I simply want to help people trying to get their story told to figure the whole thing out.

     A ghostwriter, according to Wikipedia, is a person "hired to write literary or journalistic works, speeches, or other texts that are officially credited to another person as the author... Usually, there is a confidentiality clause... between the ghostwriter and the credited author that obligates the former to remain anonymous. Sometimes the ghostwriter is acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services... but often the ghostwriter is not credited."

     However, my idea of a ghostwriter is someone who helps another get started in putting their story together: who helps the budding author get the information necessary to get their story told. It's not someone who actually writes a book for some big-name rich person who just wants to make more money. It's someone who wants to help YOU get your book written.

     Sometimes you will see someone named on a book cover as a "partner writer" or "co-author." Technically, this person would not be a ghostwriter, although many of them are. They're listed as a "partner" though they may have written most of the book. However, real ghostwriters are usually not named in the book. They may write the majority of the book but the named "author" gets the credit.

     This may sound unethical or something, but it is common practice. When someone wants to create copy for a book, a ghostwriter may be hired to put it together. The ghostwriter is hired to produce high quality writing and so the writing reads the way the "author" wants it.

     A ghostwriter is not usually hired for their reputation as a book writer. A ghostwriter should be considered because of their knowledge of the writing business and for the help they can give to the "author." The "author" wants to write a book, but may not know how. A ghostwriter may be able to give the "author" the help they need to do that job.

     So, why would you, a fairly new author, want to enlist the help of a ghostwriter? And the answer is pretty simple.

     Nearly every celebrity bestseller has actually been written by a ghostwriter. Either the celebrity doesn't know how to do their own writing, or they don't have the time, or they're into many other things but want to have a book written. A fairly new writer may just not know how to do the work. They may have a story idea and not know how to put it into book format. A ghostwriter may simply be hired to help the newcomer put their story into a good book format, then possibly to help the author write the story.

     There is really just one reason for enlisting the help of a ghostwriter:

     It’s really not the ghostwriter's book, and you, the "author," have the overall idea and may just want help putting that idea into the best possible book format. The ghostwriter's job is to take the story the "author" has in mind and help them get it into book format.

     Personally, I feel a ghostwriter should only work with people who want to be involved. If a person just wants to get their ideas out there in public and get paid for their thoughts, but doesn't want to do any of the work themselves, I don't really want to be a part of that. I just want to help someone who doesn't know how to put their ideas down on paper. The book is theirs and I just want to help them.

     How does a ghostwriter work? There are really seven things the ghostwriter will do for you in helping create your work, if they are actually going to be "writing" the book for or with you.

     1. Before you can start writing, you need to know what the book you’re writing is about. So a ghostwriter will usually sit down with the "author" to create an outline of their story and to get all the details of the story laid out.

     2. The ghostwriter should collect written and recorded materials from the "author." The "author" will likely  have ideas, or even the entire background, about the book they're trying to put together. A ghostwriter needs to know what the "author" wants to say in their book.

     3. A ghostwriter may record many interviews with the "author." It will likely be one of the most  important jobs they have. The better the questions and the more information the ghostwriter digs out about what the "author" wants to say in their book, the more informed they will be and the more they will be able to assist the "author."

     4. Then the writing begins. The ghostwriter puts into words and book format what the "author" wants to say. This will likely take days, weeks and even months and will usually be done with a lot of review with the "author." On the other hand, the ghostwriter may just help the "author" get started by drafting the story from background given by the "author," giving the "author" help on technical details, and then helping the "author" over hurdles as they come.  

     5. This writing will become the structure of the book and the "author's" overall presentation. It will be in the "author's" voice. The job is not to write a perfect book, or to write the story as the ghostwriter would present it. The job is to write the book as the "author" would do it: their story; their voice; their style; etc.

     6. Then, if the ghostwriter actually writes the initial draft, now it's time for the "author" to read it and give feedback. The book needs to be what they want it to be, and to sound as they want it to sound. And, the book is really the "author's" book. It must always be what the "author" wants.

     7. Finally, when the book has been read and approved by the "author," it will need to be edited and proofread over and over, until the "author" is satisfied. It may, at this time, be ready for publication or it may be ready to be given to the "author" for them to finish. Again, once a draft has been done, it may be time for the "author" to take it over and write the book themselves.

     So, do you have a story in mind but just don't know how to put it together? Do you just need information on what this whole book writing, publishing, marketing thing is all about? Then, I'm available. Either as a ghostwriter who will take on the whole project of putting your book out there, or just in helping you get organized and educated.

Also, check out my help book, So You've Written A Book. Now What?, for lots of ideas on writing. It's FREE at Smashwords.

     Give me a write at JimMagwood@aol.com and I'll be happy to help you get started.