Paid to be a Ghost
So, I'm currently resting on my side with an open bleeding hole on my hip.
How's that for an opening line after months of no posts on here?
Anyway, there's no better time to catch up writing some blog posts while recovering from a medical procedure, right?
Well, it was actually during the procedure where the idea for this post came up...is that weird?
Quick backstory...for about six years, I've had this bump on my hip. It was flesh-covered, not painful, and seemed to be along for the ride. I had it checked out before, and the doctor was not concerned as long as it wasn't causing me pain...well, fast forward to last week and suddenly it's enflamed and morphing into a gurgling infected monster.
Even though my wife had grown attached to my little bump, it was time to get the thing removed.
So, as I'm on the doctor's table, my hairy ass out, in pain, getting injected with numbing liquids...my doctor thought it was a good time to ask what I do for work.
So, I told him I run a business, and I do some ghostwriting work.
"Ghostwriter?" He asked as he tapped the syringe on the side before injecting me with more anesthetic. "You write ghost stories?"
"Not exactly," I said through gritted teeth as he continued to stab my flesh around the bump. Seriously, it was like 30 shots before I was finally numb.
"So, what is it?" He asked as he finally put away the needle and then grabbed a scalpel.
"Well," I cleared my throat and tried to calm myself when I saw the sharp blade. "To put it simply, I write books for other people."
"You get no credit?" He scoffed as he made his first slice into my side.
"No, but it can vary depending on the contract or agreement," I replied as I turned away and thanked the heavens for the 300 numbing shots.
"But you make good money?" His next question came quick.
"Sure," I said. "Plus, it's more stable than trying to rely on your own personal work selling all the time...unless you're a best-selling author."
"Interesting..." the doctor said as he continued the procedure.
At this moment, I realized this would be a good post for the website. This wasn't the first time someone hadn't heard about ghostwriting before, plus it's a good opportunity for writers to research the topic more.
How Does One Become a Ghost?
The answer is really quite simple...look for a ghostwriting job...
The internet is a vast resource my fellow writers. Get digging.
Indeed, Monster, Google... ask around on social media...make yourself available.
I found my first ghostwriting gig on indeed, and that gave me almost a year's worth of work. It was even a salary position... that saved me with taxes.
Speaking of taxes...does ghostwriting pay well?
Yes and no.
Isn't that the case for any job?
The first few ghostwriting gigs I completed, I didn't charge that much because I didn't have much experience. Experience matters in this market. Now, I'm not telling you only to charge $100 bucks if someone wants you to write a 50,000-word novel.
No, don't do that.
Never do that...I'm looking at you, Fiverr... notice how I didn't mention Fiverr in the above list? Fiverr can be a good resource...if your patient and already have a good resume of experience to back up your prices. Most people on Fiverr are searching for the best deal, not so much the best writer or freelancer...Or they want the absolute perfect writer for the worst rates possible.
Don't sell yourself short...writing a damn book, no matter the length is hard work.
I'm not a fan of sites like Upwork either... that's another I can rant on for days. BUT...
And it's a big ole, but...if you're looking to get your feet wet and gain some experience...these sites can do some good and help you. I completed a few gigs on Upwork before...the pay was shit...but it gave me some jobs to add to my writing resume.
Basically, in summary, someone who has been writing/ghostwriting for over twenty years can and should charge a premium amount compared to, say, a college student just trying to earn some income on the side.
But, as I said, experience matters. After completing a few jobs at a fair wage for both you and your customer, you are well on your way. Not only to become a ghostwriter but just a writer in general.
What's the Process Like?
Again, the process can change from client to client but I will simply share what I've done for most of the ghostwriting gigs that have come my way.
If someone approaches you to write their book the first thing you need is clarity. Without clarity, there is death waiting in the bushes to strike. Sure, that might sound dramatic, but it's true to me. The more precise you are, the smoother the whole process will be. Some examples of some questions to ask are: What exactly is the vision for their book? The subject? The tone they want? Any specific length? Deadlines? Etc...
As the writer, you need to ask as many questions as you can think of so you can begin to roadmap a plan for completing the book and also quoting a fair price. Once you have some clarity from the client, draw up a simple contract for the both of you with the agreed deadline, payment amount and dates, and anything else you'd want to include.
Well, you start to research if you are writing on a subject you are not well versed in. Which is most of the time as a ghostwriter. So, research is your best friend.
Most importantly, regarding research, make sure you include research into the total time you allocate for the project. I usually add on a total of 1-2 weeks of time dedicated to research. Some subjects might demand more though. That is for you to decide. If it doesn't take as long as you thought, then great! You are already ahead of schedule.
After research and a lot of note-taking, you can begin to outline the book and eventually, get to the writing part.
If you don't mind writing on subjects that may not interest you, taking more of a background role, and not having your name on the cover (most of the time), then give ghostwriting a go.
You will make decent to great money, and as writers, just to make money writing is such a thrill. Plus, you'll learn new things, and hone your craft along the way. There are both negatives and positives, but again, isn't that every job?
I hope this post helped you understand a bit more about ghostwriting. With all that said, do you want to be a ghost?