There’s a Ghost In My Heart
“My sister wrote that spell book last year,” protested Cassandra.
“No she didn’t. You know it were ghost written. Remember, she asked you for the phone number of the exorcist afterwards.”
(From The Mystic Accountants, The Banned Underground 2.)
Yes, I know that it’s quite rare for me to actually quote from one of my own books. Sorry. (Either for the quote, the quality of the joke, or the lack of quotes from my rubbish as your personal preference dictates. Perhaps just an existential, all encompassing sorry? Anyway. This week I’ve got something interesting for you for a change. An actual ghost writer. (No she’s real – oh, please yourselves.) Anyway. I knew very little about ghost writing. In fact, the only thing I DID know was that celebrities use them to save themselves the chore of actually writing something, and also that Random House’s biggest worldwide english language selling author (bizzarely, Kate Price aka Jordan) openly confesses that she can’t write a word and that all her books are ghost written. And I did know that in the UK her ghost writer has to be credited under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Right. As I’ve admitted to my ignorance, although I suspect few of you lot reading this needed the confession, let hear from someone who actually knows what she is doing.
How to Work With a Ghost Writer
By Karen Cole
Trust, honor and integrity, a sense of taste and humor, great credentials – these are the hallmarks of a good, experienced professional ghost writer. But when you begin your relationship with a freelance ghost writer, how should you handle matters? Should you crack the whip, or lay back and let things slide? No way!
For one thing, many ghost writers have difficulty presenting all of their best credentials, because they involve “hush” ghost writing for clients who like to promote the idea that they wrote their own books, which is perfectly legal, by the way – and thus it can be tricky to get a long “rap”sheet resume or CV. But all experienced writers will manage to get you several credentials, one way or another, that truly show off their talents.
Many companies specialize in excellent writing and editing credentials. They are able to show you a wide variety of samples that you can use to get a “feel” for your ghost writer’s talents, abilities and experience. Some writers, even the lower cost, less experienced ones, have at least some published or optioned works – the best have hundreds – and many of them have also won awards, worked for celebrities and had their work appear on TV.
During my years of professional experience in matching clients with professional writers, I have really found that another key element is trust, after you have thoroughly checked over the credentials and feel comfortable beginning the project with your new ghost writer.
Writers have lives apart from their projects, so if your ghost writer is suddenly uncommunicative for a few days or so, just drop them emails or phone calls until you find out what the difficulty is. People take holidays, have family illnesses and personal ones, and computer crashes too – don’t get suspicious readily, it’s just a matter of getting back on schedule. At many ghost writing services, if one writer can’t complete your project, they can easily find you another one; so please don’t sweat over the “small stuff!”
The idea is to sign a full, legal binding contract with your ghost writer that lays out everything needed, including all the credit you want to share; you don’t have to share any credit whatsoever, or you can make the writer your full co-author. It’s entirely up to you and your writer. The contract should spell out important points such as fixed or flexible pricing, finished book or screenplay length in words, time of completion, minimums and maximums for both of these, who will keep the copyrights (and will you be sharing them with your writer), matters regarding lawsuits, etc.
It’s also important to have a contract clause that limits the total amount of revisions – some clients keep their ghost writers slaving away for years rewriting a manuscript, never finding it perfect enough, so this is duly needed – and several clauses spelling out exactly how you as the book or screenplay author is to keep all or some rights to the monies made, for example, from the properties once they are sold as books, eBooks, audio books, films, documentaries, movies, TV shows, etc. in cases where you are or aren’t sharing percentages with your ghost writer. Remember, you are both equal human beings with rights!
These are just examples. Once you have checked over your writer’s credentials and feel reassured that you’re hiring a true, seasoned professional, or for a lower price a student writer or medium-priced writer with a lot of talent and abilities but less experience, you can proceed. You can hire an expert writer for top dollar, one with decades of published experience, but you must always check over your potential writer’s credentials first, whatever their level of experience happens to be. This can be difficult sometimes, but at many ghost writing companies the writers are able to share enough credentials to make this humanly possible.
In essence, it largely comes down to establishing a great personal and professional relationship with your writer. You should remember that you and your writer have separate lives from your work, and that you will not be at each other’s total beck and call, for instance. Rather than getting suspicious easily, wait until something awkward develops before you get really worried, need to end your contract, or otherwise see the project as becoming a “fail.”
Keep at it – get the work completed – you will then surely succeed!
AUTHOR’S RESOURCE BOX:
I have been writing and editing since before 1980, and have been steadily ghost writing and editing on the Internet since early 2003. My original business was called Rainbow Writing, Inc. and it soon became famous for its affordable ghost writing and editing services. Now we are Ghost Writer, Inc., and we offer affordable freelance ghost writing and editing services for books, scripts and music, as well as affordable book and screenplay marketing and promotions services.
Thanks, Karen. That was illuminating.
And a quick apology from me: Karen did enclose a photo of herself, but as she is considerably better looking than I am, the blog refused to upload it.