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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 your words.

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.

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