Welcome to the second part of the article about ghost-writer.
In this article, you will get to know the steps to become a ghost-writer and subsequently getting a job.
If you have not read my previous article or are too lazy to switch over to it, here’s a quick recap:
|Who is a Ghost-Writer?||Why hire a Ghost-Writer?|
|A ghost-writer is someone who writes articles, books, blogs, speeches, or any other text but doesn’t get any credit for the said written piece. All the credit, name, and fame goes to the client for whom the ghost has worked.|
|Benefits of becoming a Ghost-writer||Is it Ethical?|
|Yes, it is. It is like a business transaction between two parties where one is offering a service and the other is paying for it.|
However, from the reader’s point of view, defining the line between ethical and unethical can be very tricky. It depends on them if they feel deceived by knowing the fact that the content they are reading has been written by someone else.
|When does it become unethical?||Types of Ghost-writings|
Before we jump to the steps, let’s discuss a few challenges the writers face when thinking of becoming a ghost-writer. Just like any other career field, ghost-writing also comes with its own pitfalls.
CHALLENGES OF BECOMING A GHOST-WRITER
- Many writers and readers feel that ghost-writing is a form of lying and is unethical. But the authors engaging the ghost-writers certainly don’t think so. How a person perceives something as unethical is a very tricky subject, especially by the readers. But why would a writer think of it as unethical? Because according to him, it is his words that the readers are reading and enjoying, not the authors. They look at it as the readers being deceived by the author. If a writer really wants to dive into ghost-writing, they need to first and foremost make up their mind about what is ethical and what’s not.
- It’s often quite difficult to see your work being praised by thousands of people but you cannot bask in that glory. The writer would have to harden their heart to ignore this important facet of ghost-writing. They should be mentally prepared to let go of this attachment towards their work and not give in to the need of shouting from a hill-top that they deserve this praise and glory.
- For beginner ghost-writers, it will be difficult for them to ignore the prospect of academic writing, which is one of the most highly frowned upon ghost-writing forms. In order to start their career in this field, the beginners will be tempted to write these assignments for money and establishing themselves. However, the ghost-writer needs to be mentally strong to not give in to this urge.
- A more challenging task for beginners is finding a client. Most authors want to work with experienced ghost-writers since they have an established sense of ethics and credibility. Hence, it becomes an extremely difficult task to find a job in this field. Imagine a field, where there’s already a competition between the experienced professionals and then you bring in the novices into this mix!
- The client will disclose a ton of information, be it personal or related to their writing work. There is a very high possibility that the client makes you sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). This NDA can be of not revealing the personal information and/or the story ideas or any written material. But human nature is such that when you tell them not to do a particular task, the desire to do the same becomes extremely high. The ghost-writer should have the necessary brakes in their mind to stop this desire.
- Many writers feel that they will not be able to build their own names or business once they get into ghost-writing. Since they will write for others and not be able to showcase the project in their portfolio, the writers can easily be demoralized.
These challenges can be faced by a novice or an experienced ghost-writer at any given point. It is imperative to have knowledge of such shortcomings and make an informed decision before starting a career as a ghost-writer.
Now that you have gained some understanding of the shortcomings/challenges a budding ghost-writer may face, you still want to pursue it professionally?
In that case, welcome aboard!
Get ready to become a successful ghost (pun intended) by following these simple yet important steps.
Steps To Become a Ghost-Writer
1. Experience matters:
First and foremost, before writing for a total stranger, build your own platform. Start writing your own stories or blog. Try and write on varied topics such as food, travel, romance, horror, book/movie reviews, and such. Juggling between topics will give you a fair idea of the style of writing needed for different genres. You need to market yourself through these writing stints to build a base and gain the confidence of the prospective client.
And if you’re passionate enough, why not publish a book? By publishing a book, you’ll get to know the nuances of dedicating yourself to something for an extended time period where you will sometimes get an overflow of creativity/inspiration and other times want to pull your hair out of your skull. It’s better to walk in the shoes of an author to see if it fits your bill.
2. Become a freelancer:
Freelancing is an excellent way to build your portfolio as well as gaining experience. There are many freelancers who have been approached for being a ghost-writer based on their work. You can either be a freelance writer or an editor. Through freelance writing, you will be able to build an impressive portfolio and show your writing skills whenever the need arises. It can get you in touch with prospective clients who may be willing to hire you for their next project. And since editing is an integral part of any writing project, freelancing this service can help you in building a rapport with the client and subsequently suggest your ghost-writing services to them.
3. Your ego is your enemy:
Ghost-writing is all about your client and them getting all the glory. The ghost doesn’t come into the picture in any shape or form, except maybe a mention in the Acknowledgement section. But who reads the acknowledgments, right? (Atleast, I don’t). Make sure that you know the pros and cons before entering into this field. And if you have decided that you want to pursue this as a career, make sure to keep your ego in check at all times. As it is your ego which will surface time and again to lure you into retaliation. You will want to tell your achievement to all your known connections or toot your own horn. Hence, you ought to tame your egoistic side and say bye-bye to your dream of signing your books at a book signing event or a book fair.
4. The Voice:
When you become a ghost, you will have to adapt to your client’s way of writing, i.e. their voice. Although you are busy building your portfolio to impress prospective clients, don’t forget this crucial detail. The essence of ghost- writing is to write on someone’s behalf and to sound like your client. To develop this skill, you need to step out of your comfort zone and start writing in different styles.
Also, an essential skill to become a good writer is to keep reading and while you are at it, pick up on the various style, expressions, and semantics the authors have used. Why not try to mimic some of them? For example, imagine a scenario where you have been recommended to Shashi Tharoor and he has approached you to help him write a blog. Now, if you have heard him speak or read his articles, you’ll automatically realize the number of times you’ll need to use a thesaurus to write that blog.
Or take Chetan Bhagat’s simple and approachable writing style as an example. In terms of semantics, both of these personalities lie on the opposite side of the language spectrum, but they are among the few people/writers whom you can try to imitate.
However remember, imitate but don’t plagiarize!
5. Hone your interviewing skills:
As a ghost-writer, you will be required to have a detailed interview with your client at the beginning of the writing project to know all the details or anytime in between the period of writing. Here, you need to acknowledge the fact that not all clients will be articulate. While, some may be proactive in their approach and tell you in specific detail how they want you to write their book or article, on the other hand, there will be some cases where you will have to apply all your interrogation skills to bring out the desired answers. You should know which question to ask to direct the client’s thoughts and get the necessary details out of them.
You can attend workshops or sit with your friends or acquaintances and interview them as if they are your clients. This will not only help in building your confidence, but the feedback you receive will help you in building a plethora of probable questions that can be asked.
If you want to succeed in any career field, self-discipline is a very important aspect that should be followed in daily life. But what exactly has this got to do with ghost-writing? It takes a lot of effort to set up a routine and keep following it to get a job done. Certain ghost-writing projects are too tedious that you may lose focus or interest in them. But if you have mentally trained yourself that whatever comes your way, you will still sit down for 1 hour or 5 hours daily without distractions, to keep the flow going, you will get the job done eventually. Some projects may take a few weeks or months, whereas some may at least take a year, proper self-discipline will help you strive through these prolonged periods.
7. Treat it as a business:
If you want to pursue ghost-writing as a career, you need to start treating it as a business venture where you are the owner of the service and you offer it for a price. Market your services on all your social media sites, mention it when you are introducing yourself, create a website and professional email address, make business cards, create a profile on Google My Business so that you can be easily approached, there are many ways to get yourself out there. In order to be treated as a professional, you need to start acting like one.
8. Pricing your service:
Why do we work? To earn money, right? So isn’t it imperative that you should price your services as well? Deciding a price directly depends on your experience. If you’re a beginner, you will obviously charge less than those who are considerably experienced. Now the question that arises is how do you decide the price? You can talk to other ghost-writers and/or freelancers or go on sites that suggest the base/average price.
You also need to make that the price decided should include all the bifurcations such as the price for any sorting fees or clerical work, telephone bills, conveyance fees, etc. For example, your client should be very clear of the fact that if they are sending your multiple diaries or paper notes for reference, they will be charged for the hours you will spend sorting these pages for the right information.
It is not just the writing hour that you are giving to your client; you are also spending time on getting to know them and browsing through their research material to build a classic tale.
9. Become tech-savvy:
These days, being in sync with the latest technological tools for better marketing of the article/book/blog has become a very important feature of becoming a writer. And ironically, not many people are well versed in the technological aspect of marketing. You should know the nuances of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which will help you in getting a good rank in Google. Ranking on Google means that your article/blog appears on the 1st page of the search results (let’s be honest, who goes to the 2nd page of the search results?).
Start learning about the backend technical work that makes an ordinary article rank on the Google search page. Acquire knowledge of how sites like Google Analytics, Keyword Planner in Google Ads page, or Ubersuggest can help you in uplifting your site/blog. Once you get a hold on this important feature, the clients will happily pay you extra.
10. Practice maketh a man perfect:
The key to being successful in any venture is to keep practicing and gaining knowledge about your field. You now know that ghost-writing is all about writing for someone else. However, if you do not have the experience to write for a third person, that too in their voice, you will find it very difficult to move forward once you do get an actual project.
You should start practicing, say, with your friends. Sit down with them and ask, “if you wanted to write an article (or book or blog), what would it be about?” Based on their reply, start asking them questions so that you can get an idea of what they want. This entire process will help you in:
- Improving your interview skills
- Writing in a third voice
11. Have patience:
You have followed all these steps but still aren’t getting any projects? Hang in there! Chill out and relax the grey matter in that head of yours. Nothing comes easily in this world. Keep writing and publishing your articles. Keep self-promoting yourself on sites like Medium and mention your services as a ghost in your bio/profile in your social media accounts. It’s a slow process, but once you get the job, rest assured, there will also come a time where you’ll be in a position to reject offers. Good things come to those who wait. And don’t forget, keep writing!
Moving on to the next segment of the article, which is, to get a job as a ghost-writer. Interestingly, there are no specific job portals like Naukri or Indeed which caters to posting jobs of ghost-writing. However, there are multiple sites for freelancers through which you can propel your ghost-writing career.
Here are some ways that you can land a job as a ghost-writer:
As I have already stated above, freelancing is one of the most excellent ways of getting a job as a ghost-writer. Through freelancing, you are able to publicly showcase your work. You can also register yourself in job sites that specifically cater to freelancers such as freelancer.in, upwork.com, or fiverr (recommended for freshers in the field).
Ghost-writing jobs are generally found through connections or referrals. If you have worked for a client, and they found your work satisfactory, there is a very high chance that you will get recommended to other writers in need. You can mention your services to your friends, relatives, teachers to spread the word in their circle. Joining a ghost-writer group on Facebook, Reddit or Pinterest is also a beneficial way to spread the news of your availability.
Update your social media profile to mention that you’re a freelancer and/or ghost-writer for hire. Write a guest post (writing post on someone else’s website/blog), preferably about ghost-writing. Get your articles published in recognized magazines. Reach out to companies, bloggers, writers, or small business owners and offer your freelancing (writing and editing) services, through this, you can also pitch about your ghost-writing abilities. Self-promotion is one of the best forms of marketing that can be done by a newbie.
To make the long story short…
If you think about it, ghost-writing is not that bad of a job. You get to work in the comfort of your home (especially a boon in the times of COVID), you are getting paid handsomely, your involvement in background work is next to nil, you have a high chance of working with some big names of the industry and you can work for an Australian client sitting in India.
What else can you want from a job?
Is it, name and fame, that I hear?
Well, to get something, you’ve gotto sacrifice something.
And anyways, nobody is forcing you to become a ghost-writer. It is purely the writer’s choice whether they want to accept this job. But if you think that you just cannot let go of your inner voice that is not letting you accept the fact of you not being the owner of the hard work, it’s better you listen to it. Because, as I said above, your ego is your biggest enemy in this field.
There are a lot of things that you should start thinking apart from the 11 steps mentioned above. Make a list of do’s and don’ts that you will be adhering to while working on a project. Think about the kind of ghost-writing jobs you will look into. Do you want to write books or only stick to articles or technical writing jobs? What if you exceed your time limit due to certain unforeseen circumstances and would want a revise in the payment? The more clear and precise YOU are about your job, the easier it will be for you to deal with your client and get your dream job.
So to all the budding writers out there, the ball is now in your court.
Break a leg! (figuratively, of course. Duh!!!)