December 4, 2007
Serious freelance writers know their income may come from other sources, not just writing articles for magazines or clients. Ultimately, their freelance writing leads to writing books or e-books for themselves or as ghostwrites. If you decide to ghostwrite e-books and trade paperbacks for clients, consider the following:
If a client hires you as a “work-for-hire” ghostwriter, then the client pays you for your work, and he owns all rights. Make sure: 1) You receive a 50% retainer before you begin the work; and 2) You receive the balance at or right before delivery. That’s it. If the book turns out to be a great success, great! That’s wonderful! You should be extremely proud — but from a distance! To be a successful ghostwriter, you must enjoy your glory as a ghostwriter in the shadows. Many ghostwriters prefer it that way.
I know a great speaker in the industry who commands $10,000 or more per speaking engagement. He is phenomenal to listen to and even more dynamite to read. However, he doesn’t write his books alone. He contributes to them but he never writes any of them himself. His ghostwriter, Shelly, is known only to a few writers in a close-knit writer’s group. Why does Shelly let this speaker take all the glory for her work? She is painfully shy and exceedingly talented as a writer. She once said, “I am where I need to be and he is where he should be.” If you are going to ghostwrite, stay where you belong (invisible) and accept payment for the job as payment enough.
TIP #1: As a ghostwriter, you should always try to meet the needs of the true “author” of the work. Cover the content they want and do your best to make the client happy.
TIP #2: As with writing any book, ghostwriting involves lot of revisions and changes as far out as two months, especially if the book needs to go through an editor or publisher. You should make changes as needed. However, don’t wait on final payment if your client hasn’t received final approval from his publisher.
TIP #3: Always write your ghostwrites as if they are your own. Write with quality and professionalism in mind.
TIP #4: Never sign a non-compete contract on the subject of the book. It is crazy for the client to ask but crazier for you to do it. If a client asks for one, walk away. You have your own work to protect as well as the client’s work. Remember the saying, “to thine own self be true”? Well, in writing, there’s no truer statement.
TIP #5: You owe the client exceptional work and the client you work for owes you money for a job well done.
TIP #6: If your client is dissatisfied with the end result, even after he’s paid you, make it right for the client. Satisfied clients usually become repeat clients; they will bring you steady work and referrals.
TIP #7: Consider using a pen name as a ghostwriter. Jeanine Anne, a freelance writer and ghostwriter, said she uses a pen name when she ghostwrites. She said, “I’ve written most of my ghostwrites and presented them to my clients under my pen name, Jeanine Anne. First, if someone decides to spam me, there’s no harm done to the name for which I write my own work under. Secondly, when I write for a client, I have no idea what the client will do to the work, after all it is his work once it leaves my hands. The client may add content which I may not like or he may write something that is not my style of writing.” This is something to remember if you write for clients as ghostwrites. The client hires you to do a job and the client owns the work after it leaves your hands.
You can find many ghostwriting gigs on www.FreelanceWriting.com, Elance.com, Guru.com, GetAFreelancer.com, Indeed.com, www.WritingCareer.com, and CraigsList.com. The other way is to create your own ghostwriting gigs by networking and marketing.