(Without writing your book)
Here is the rerecorded version of the NAIWE presentation I did a few weeks ago. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Here is the rerecorded version of the NAIWE presentation I did a few weeks ago. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
We love getting insights from our GPDP grads and hope you’ll check out the great in-depth profiles we’ve already published. In this series of roundtables, we want to offer you perspectives on dealing with anonymity from several Certified Ghostwriters and from The Ghostwriting Expert herself, Claudia Suzanne.
Ghostwriting is for those who do not yearn for the spotlight.
In her Introduction to Ghostwriting class, Claudia tells writers and editors, “I get it. It’s taken years, even decades to achieve [your] status, to accept you’re not a 9-to-5 person, to get your family and friends to recognize your gifts and talents. Now that you finally have their respect, or at least understanding, why in the world would you want to give it up?”
“Ghostwriters deliver literary products uniquely personalized not only to the author, but to the…reader, and…industry… needs,”  says Claudia. “Our operative image is…100% about our customer.”
Certified Ghostwriter Kate Early says, “If you’re someone who wants their name on the book, then go write your own books. I don’t know why you’re writing somebody else’s.”
“As an editorial service provider, your job is to provide a service to the author,” says Derek Lewis, one of the country’s leading business Certified Ghostwriters. “If you go into it because you want to make a name for yourself, and you want that acclaim, then you aren’t entering a relationship with the author to provide them the vision that they want. … You’re primarily…[trying] to ride their coattails, and that’s not a reason to get into [this] profession.”
Ghostwriting is a skilled service career, but a well-paid one.
“The motivation for ghostwriting is not fame,” says Certified Ghostwriter Lorraine Ash. “It’s the chance to help someone artfully get their story or big idea into the world, rise to an intellectual challenge, and learn about someone/something new. Every book is an education in life.”
Kate agrees. “I am driven to help people,” she says. “I want to help them write their books and I don’t want my name on it. I’m not the person who wants the spotlight. I’m happy to be backstage.”
Many people are confused if you can’t talk about your book projects.
When Aunt Martha or your former teacher isn’t clear what ghostwriting is or why you can’t tell them what you’re working on, you can explain what you do but not who your clients are or what their books are about. Instead, talk about understanding book industry classifications, analyzing manuscripts, interviewing, editing, coaching, and mentoring.
“I never talk about [a client’s] project, process, or anything they’ve shared with me. That’s strictly confidential, as it should be,” says Beth.
Anonymity in ghostwriting contracts can vary.
Derek created a business-savvy contract with options for new clients. “Whenever I’m negotiating with my authors, I have my flat fee for what it’ll take for me to ghostwrite their book. I offer them a discount if they’re willing to [show my name].” One choice he offers is to include “with Derek Lewis” on the cover of their book.
“Are they more comfortable with me staying behind the curtain?” says Derek. “I’m benefited either way; either financially or marketing wise, it’s the same to me.”
Anonymity doesn’t deter business.
When he finishes a project, Derek always asks, “’Do you mind if, privately, whenever somebody reaches out, that I refer them to you? Or, even more convenient for you and me both, would be to allow me to show them an excerpt, a selection, of the work that I provided. Again, that would be privately, confidentially, not on my website, not anywhere else.’ I don’t think I ever had one client who said no to that.”
“Most of my authors thank me in the ‘Acknowledgments’ section of their book—so that’s kind of public,” Certified Ghostwriter Beth Brand. “Many provide me with a testimonial to use in my marketing. Most talk about using me as a ghostwriter or coach openly to friends. And they refer their colleagues to me. So, it’s not that anonymous.”
Becoming a Certified Ghostwriter is a choice you make for a brighter future.
“You can be happy to give up your original training and essentially start over,” Claudia says, “if you want your gifts and talents to generate a higher, steadier income.”
To check out the less-than-anonymous Wambtac Certified Ghostwriters quoted in this article, here are their websites:
Derek Lewis, a million-dollar business grad based in Baton Rouge, LA
Lorraine Ash, a leader in beautiful memoirs based in Northern NJ
Beth Brand, a health and tech specialist based in Asheville, NC
Kate Early, a broad-spectrum self-help, business, and fiction ghost based in the Boston, MA area
Check out the 2021 schedule for our 6-week prerequisite “Intro to Ghostwriting” course offered in January, March, and May before the full Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP) begins in August 2021. We look forward to showing you the book industry from the inside out and helping you learn a new online, lucrative, and creative career!
 Slide 11, Intro to Ghostwriting class.
It’s been a crazy six months with people all locked away together. No one can blame you if your education, inspiration, or motivation has been on hold.
As we wind down into 2020’s last quarter, now’s a good time for a new perspective and gaining momentum to complete an otherwise crazy year.
Try this COVID re-set for a few quick personal and business perspective shifts that can help move a sad acronym into a glad acronym:
C is for checking your website and other marketing materials to decide what needs updates
O is for outlining 10 blog posts for book or business promotion and scheduling them into your editorial calendar
V is for varying your workout pattern so it stays exciting and challenging
I is for immortalizing your time at home by taking selfies and writing flash fiction about each one
D is for donating your writing skills to help a non-profit, church, small biz, or others
Want even more inspiration? Create your own definitions for that acronym and share it with your friends, followers, and fans. Who knows, maybe they’ll jump into the game, too!
Need even more help to get moving? Start planning for 2021 now, when our next Intro to Ghostwriting class starts. Great way to get your feet wet.
Your normal structure is gone and without any timeline for zipping out the door (at least not safely), it’s easy for procrastination to set in.
Not only is everyone at home, it’s not temporary. We’re all cramped together ‘til who knows when. That means not only do we face production challenges, many other factors have escalated, creating all sorts of reasons to walk away from work:
Assert some rules for yourself and your family:
For example, access social media only during lunchtime or after the official workday. Set an old-fashioned kitchen timer or a unique alarm on your phone (dog barking, bugle, etc.) to signal when to start and end your time limit.
Psychologist Alicia Clark says, “If you feel afraid, envision yourself feeling excited, elated, or just simply relieved after you’ve finished the project.”
“Imagine replacing a feeling of failure with a feeling of success.” 1
Times are so challenging now that beating yourself up about what you’re not doing only makes things worse. Give yourself strokes for everything you get done, even if it’s as small as, “I outlined that next chapter” or “I set up the document,” or “I’ll do in-home walking during commercials.”
Getting started is the hardest step. Use these ideas for inspiration so that—for a few minutes each day—you can minimize procrastination and achieve that more positive outlook.
“I was originally a business copywriter,” says Derek Lewis, Certified Ghostwriter, “and I came across an online ad for somebody who wanted a business book written. And I said, ‘Oh, well, that can’t be that much harder.’ Poor naïve little me.”
Ghostwriting and regular journalism, says Lewis, may both be “black words on a white page,” but that’s about all they have in common. As he progressed in his original project, he came to realize that [these types of writing were each] a different skill set, a different mindset,” and ultimately, “a different business altogether.”
“I stepped back and said, ‘I probably need to learn what I’m doing.’ So I went on Google and looked for ghostwriting coaches, ghostwriting teachers, ghostwriting courses. And that’s how I came across Claudia’s website.”
He ultimately became a ghostwriting success story after taking Claudia Suzanne’s ghostwriting course.
“I just didn’t appreciate how much emotion is tied to a book,” Lewis confesses. “And how it’s one thing to copywrite a blog post or a magazine article for somebody. I mean, of course they come up with the content and they approve it, but there’s not an emotional attachment to it.
“With a book, there is so much more scrutiny on getting it right. Because a book just naturally carries more weight than a blog post or a magazine article.”
Lewis says he welcomed the more in-depth author involvement but didn’t expect the painstaking process of book writing. “Fifty thousand words of a manuscript is not the same as a 5,000-word article ten times. It’s not a commensurate amount of labor—it’s far more.
“I didn’t know there was going to be that much back and forth,” he says. “I didn’t even appreciate that it was a different writing skill altogether.”
“Claudia taught me how to be a real ghostwriter,” says Lewis. He loved the challenges and the way it stoked his own insights. “I don’t say ‘quantum leap’ very often, because that’s over-used and it sounds a little hyperbolic.” But that’s how strong a transformation process he experienced as he moved from traditional copywriting into ghosting.
“With Claudia’s course, I realized that I was severely undercharging,” Lewis says. “I immediately raised my prices, on a scale of five or six times. I realized that I was in a whole new industry. It was a whole new craft.”
“I could mark the [class segment] where I [first realized I] had the confidence, I had the knowledge, I had the tools, I had the craft, to appropriately quote my value,” says Lewis. “In fact, with just my first project, I made more on that than my previous year and a half of copywriting put together.”
What makes Claudia so good, and how do you work through a class like that? “Just her sheer amount of experience and industry insider knowledge. I think the way she says it is, ‘I’ve done everything you can do wrong, at least five different ways.’”
“I guess [it’s] probably true in just about any business or career, but…you [can’t] just hang your shingle out one day and be making money the next,” Lewis advises. “It takes a little bit of time to establish yourself…to get the sales and marketing parts kind of up and running. I tell people if I had to do it over again, I would have been a lot smarter about it.”
Lewis does have one regret: “I wish that I would have come across [Claudia’s] ad probably six months, eight months earlier. I was in a position where I had a full-time job, but I could have moonlighted as a ghostwriter and established myself, and made a smooth transition of going from being employed full time to being self-employed full time.”
“Of course, this was 11 years ago,” he laughs. “I was younger and full of vim and vigor.”
Say “marketing” to many small business owner and they’ll say, “I don’t have an advertising budget.” But every business should have a marketing budget. More importantly, they should understand that marketing and advertising are not synonyms; ads are just one form of marketing.
One truly cost-effective outlet for marketing your ghostwriting business is radio. Most guest spots will cost you (Are you ready?) ZERO. That’s right—zilch, nada, nothing!
If you think radio as a marketing tool has died, think again.
In one survey, Nielsen found that 93% of Americans tune into AM/FM stations.
Radio had strong listening trends during the 2016 election and the first Trump term, but after that Nielsen found audience numbers were still solid; in fact, they’d risen—7.4% of listeners ages 25-54 in 2017 rose to 8.3% in January 2018.
Certified Ghostwriters who successfully completed the GPDP program with Claudia Suzanne know that signing an NDA is the first step in developing a client’s trust. Once you’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with your author/client, you’re legally bound not to reveal anything about the project.
So, be careful how you promote your ghostwriting business. It’s tempting to talk about a fabulous life story or business method your client has, especially when a good interviewer asks probing questions. But resist!
Instead of talking about specific projects, offer listeners insights or tips about what ghostwriters offer, the pros/cons of using a ghostwriter, or how to work with a ghostwriter. How can they get started? How do they choose a ghostwriter? What other writing services does a ghostwriter provide?
You’re used to doing the interviews but getting others to interview you successfully requires other skills. Here are five simple points to get you on the air and make your advice worth listening to:
When the interview’s over, find out how to get a link to the show’s recording so you can post your own blog and social media news alerts. Remember to ask if you need special permissions to use the recording as a giveaway.
And make sure you send a thank-you to the host and/or press liaison. You can use eCards; there are quite a few free sites with a great variety. Of course, you can always write and send an old-fashioned paper note.
The bottom line: As we teach in our Ghostwriter Professional Designation Program (GPDP), no matter how good a ghostwriter is, they can’t just expect clients to come to them. Every business needs to reach far and wide to link with potential authors and writers.
Radio’s great promotional potential helps authors and Certified Ghostwriters unite!
For a solid look at a career in ghostwriting, sign up for the next Intro to Ghostwriting class that begins October 5th via ghostwritertraining.com and discover if it’s right for you.
Know anyone who wants to learn more about becoming a ghostwriter? Tell them about the next Intro to Ghostwriting class beginning June 15th at ghostwritertraining.com
I realize the impulse to write-it-all-out in analyses, proposals, query letters, and BSP is strong—oh, so so strong. But you must realize no author, agent, publisher, booker, host, etc. wants to have to read through all your verbiage. Ghostwriting Psych 101: be concise but comprehensive. Just another reason why ghostwriting is the simplest, most complex endeavor a writer can undertake (and why we make the big bucks!).
This week’s post is about maximizing your business plan.
Remember the first two rules of ghostwriting.
This week’s video is about knowing (and using) ghostwriter history.