Accepting Anonymity As A Ghostwriter

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.

Making your decision

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,” [1] 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.” 

It’s not just the money

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.”

Knowing the Boundaries

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.

Gaining a win-win

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.” 

Getting more business

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.”

Identity Shift

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!

 [1] Slide 11, Intro to Ghostwriting class.