Four Tips to Help You Break Into Ghostwriting
So you're thinking of becoming a ghostwriter, a behind-the-scenes writer for hire. Good
for you. It's a fun business with plenty of perks. Ghostwriters establish meaningful professional
relationships with fascinating people, some with remarkable personal stories, others who are
movers and shakers in their fields.
As a ghostwriter, you get to release your creative writing juices without agonizing over
what to write about. That's because your client supplies the topic and an outline. If rough
drafts are provided, you get to rewrite them to your heart's content. Since you're a skilled
writer with solid ideas, your client will likely listen to your suggestions and let you run
with the project.
And you get to see your books in print. Not every ghostwritten manuscript gets published,
but some do. Even though you won't see your name on the cover - ghostwriting is a confidential
profession, after all, and the book's author is your client, not you - you derive satisfaction
from knowing that you've written published books, or major portions of them. People are reading
I speak from experience. As a freelance writer for the past 17 years, I've ghostwritten
23 books, and I'm currently ghosting a couple more. Without a doubt the writing is rewarding,
there is money to be made, and clients who need ghostwriting services are out there.
But the big question for those starting out is: How do you break in?
Here are four tips to help get you going:
1. Discover Opportunities Through Friends and Colleagues. My first ghostwriting
opportunity came about when a friend connected me with a woman who wanted her life story written
as a book. I turned her extensive notes written in longhand into a coherent, engaging manuscript,
which she turned into a self-published book she uses to inspire women in treatment centers.
When you're talking with friends and colleagues, keep your radar on. Do they know someone who's
thinking of penning their life story? Jump in and offer your services as a professional writer.
Get the person's contact information and follow up.
2. Find Clients Online. Early in my career I found many jobs, including ghostwriting
ones, at Guru.com, an online freelance marketplace. I'm still a "guru" there, paying their
annual membership fee and securing gigs from time to time. Other writers are successful with
Elance.com, Sunoasis.com, and Online-Writing-Jobs.com. Get online and check out these sites.
Use the "find" command (CTRL-F) to search job postings for ghostwriting leads. Also, using
your favorite engine, do a search on "ghostwriting jobs" to locate additional sites
3. Start With Shorter Pieces. There is no need to jump into writing an entire
book manuscript. You can break into ghostwriting by creating shorter pieces such as eBooks,
magazine articles, online content, or blogs. Approach a friend or acquaintance who's an expert
in their field and offer your writing services. Explain that you can help them reach their
desired audiences by crafting a well-written piece. Ask what they'd like to say in print; then,
write it for them. Be sure to agree upon a fee beforehand and get it in writing.
4. Ghostwrite For A Writer. Believe it or not, some writers have more work than
they can handle, so they hire other writers. I've ghostwritten a few books this way. For example,
a friend of mine who's a parenting expert and a writer on the side was approached by a client
to ghostwrite his book. She took the job even though she had no time for it. She conducted
interviews, had them transcribed, and sent them to me along with an outline and detailed notes.
I transformed all of this information into a polished, full-length manuscript. Offer your ghostwriting
services to other writers. Contact them by phone, email, or direct mail. Be sure to include
your resume, or at least mention your relevant successes as a writer.
As with any field, once you break in, it's easier to find your next gig. Take that first
step in securing a ghostwriting project, and see your project through to the end. By doing
an excellent job with your first ghostwritten piece, you'll set the stage for more gigs to follow.
Graciela Sholander is a ghostwriter,
editor, copywriter, proofreader, and translator. In addition to ghosting for others, she's
written more than 300 nonfiction articles for national, regional, and local magazines under
her own byline. Graciela is co-author of
Dream It Do It: Inspiring Stories of Dreams Come True, now available as an eBook on amazon.com.