At one point, I never thought ghostwriting would be part of my freelancing repertoire. My first ghosting gig was one of those oh-crap-I-need-a-job moments. We all get there in the freelancing business every now and then. I had never done this type of assignment before, but the client and I really hit it off. It was time to fake it until I made it. It was the biggest job I had ever taken on at that point, and it only led to more after that.
When I tell non-writers that I ghostwrite, they’re usually a little confused. It’s not the kind of thing you hear every day, and people often want to know more.
What do people do with the stories you write for them?
I don’t know most of the time, and I honestly don’t care. I’m only paid to write, not to worry about how it’s marketed or if it makes any money. If the story does nothing but sit on their hard drive and rot, then that’s the client’s business.
I will say that I recently stumbled upon some of the stories I had written for someone else. I was looking for books in the same genre (which I won’t mention in order to protect my client) and just happened to find it. The stories were being well-marketed with excellent covers, and they had tons of five-star reviews. There is no greater inspiration than a compliment, even if the reader doesn’t know who they’re complimenting.
But you don’t get any credit for it.
This is one that my daughter brings up on a pretty consistent basis. It does seem silly to put a lot of effort into a story just to have someone else slap their name on it. But I do get credit for it in that I have credit with my client. Most of them come back to me time and time again because they know I can give them what they want.
So why do you do it?
- I get paid. Let’s just be honest about that right up front. Sure, there are lots of writers out there who want to say that getting paid means you’ve sold out. I say it means you’re smart. The money I make from ghostwriting means that I have the time and funds to put together my own stories. I also get to do things like buy groceries, clothe my children, and feed my new fountain pen addiction.
- I enjoy it. Who wouldn’t want to do a job that they enjoy? Yes, I sometimes have a job that doesn’t thrill me or that isn’t the most fun, but I still get to sit at home in my pj’s with my dog next to me. You don’t get that at a 9 to 5 job.
- It’s great practice. Even though I write for others, I do write for myself as well. The genres I have ghostwritten in include science fiction, mystery, western, and modern fiction. The stories are anywhere from 10,000 to over 60,000 words. Even if I’m not writing a piece that is necessarily up my alley, it hones my writing skills and expands my horizons.
Ghostwriting may have come to me as a surprise, but it’s also been a pleasant one.
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5 responses to “I’m not Just Pale, I’m a Ghostwriter”
I am aware of ghostwriting but honestly never put much thought into the concept. This was very insightful. I think at times it might be enjoyable to write without the pressure of your name on it, if that makes sense.
It definitely does! It’s a very different experience than my own writing.
I’ve known other ghostwriters well one other. You make good points about your career. if you enjoy it and gives you a lifestyle you can enjoy I think thats the most important. I only write letters (with a fountain pens of course) and don’t think I have the creativity to do what you do. Anyone can put words on a page but it take someone creative like you to turn word into a story. I wonder does ghostwriting give you a freedom that you might not have in other cases? Above you said it was “a very different experience” than your own writing, How so? Are you a harsher critic of your own work?
Yes, there really is a lot more freedom in ghostwriting than when I’m writing my own stories. I don’t have to worry about whether a story fits in with my books. It gives me a chance to change up my style and voice as well as what kinds of characters I write about. And yes, I’m definitely a much harsher critic of my own work! It is never good enough, even when it’s published!
Thanks for the interesting reply Ashley.