Ghostwriting

When I first learned about ghostwriting it felt wrong to me. Like someone was playing on their famous name to make money without doing anything. I thought it was deceitful. Kind of a con to readers. “Read the book by Celebrity X!” Only it wasn’t actually written by Celebrity X.

Just plain wrong.

Then I learned more about why some books are ghostwritten.

For the most part, the people who find someone to ghostwrite their book have an interesting story to tell. It might be their biography, or that of someone they love. I know of one woman who bought a book at a garage sale for 25¢ on how to make a million dollars in real estate. Guess what? She did it. It could be a book that would help someone going through the process of addiction recovery, or surviving cancer, or the loss of a child. Maybe it’s a book about building and selling a small business. It could also be a dramatic/traumatic period in someone’s life that would make for a great novel based on fact.

My bet is, the true owners of these stories tried to write the book and discovered, for whatever reason, it wasn’t going to happen. But the idea persisted. The need to tell their story didn’t go away just because they weren’t able to write it.

In comes the ghostwriter.

I’m writing one now, and happy to do it. The owner of the story has contracted with a publisher to bring something important to them to print. The publisher, who has a good reputation, brings writing talent to the table. That’s me… the “talent.”

I’m only a couple of weeks in, but here are the pros and cons as I see them now:

 

Pros:

  • The story isn’t mine. I’m not creating it from scratch. I pretty much follow a transcript from hours of interviews. Essentially, the transcripts are the first draft, which for me is always the hardest part of the process.
  • In my case, a supportive publisher.
  • Helping someone bring their idea to life.
  • A paycheck.

 

Cons:

  • The story isn’t mine. I’m not creating it from scratch. I have to stay within the probabilities of their recollection of events. My opportunity to invent is limited.
  • If my voice isn’t the one they’re looking for I need to be able to change it.
  • At least initially, the time commitment is greater than what I’d expected. That means…
  • The new manuscript I’m working on is taking a hit. But I think it might level out in the next few weeks. That’s what I’m counting on.

I’m learning as I go through this process. So far, I’m not regretting a thing.

And oh, by the way (in case you didn’t hear me yell) TRAFFICKED walked away as the winner in the Mainstream Fiction category at the Colorado Authors’ League Awards Dinner a couple of weeks ago. 

Writers, have you ever thought about ghostwriting? Readers, does it matter to you how the story was written?

 

It’s all better with friends.

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Author: Peg Brantley

With the intent to lend her stories credibility, award winning author Peg Brantley is a graduate of the Aurora Citizens’ Police Academy, attended the Writers’ Police Academy conference, has interviewed crime scene investigators, FBI agents, human trafficking experts, obtained her Concealed Carry Permit, studied diverse topics from arson dogs to Santeria, and hunted down real life locations that show up in her stories.

12 thoughts on “Ghostwriting”

  1. Congrats on your award! That is so awesome!

    As for ghostwriting, a friend once handed me some material that she thought would make a dynamite book, and I’m sure it would’ve. It just didn’t excite me enough to write it, so I guess I’m not cut out to be a ghostwriter. It sounds too much like a day job to me, and I’m done with that. I’m lucky to be in a position where I can only write my stories. Good luck with your tasks!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. As a reader, I am more concerned with the content and quality of the story than the name of the person who wrote it (sorry authors). Everyday I read about “events” in the news, but I cannot turn them into a compelling story. If I could, several events in my own life-circle could be made into “crime fiction,” but my efforts would fall flat. Authors also have different writing styles and different approaches to story-telling.

    I appreciate the skill and the work required to take an “event” and turn it into a story. Good writers can take a trip to the grocery store and turn it into a nail-biting thriller, but a “bad” writer can make the cross-country chase for a murder of children seem like a trip to the grocery store to find a grapefruit.

    Good stories are everywhere just waiting for a good writer, hence the need for GOOD “ghostwriters.” And hey, cash all spends the same.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I should learn within the next 24 hours whether or not the clients think my treatment of the first chapter of their story is what they’re looking for. I think it’s good, but it might not be right.

      Fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. YIPPEE! Congratulations, Peg. Well deserved.

    Thank you for the balanced review of ghostwriting. I’m sure you are the perfect writer for this particular job – – and that has got to be half the battle on both sides finding the perfect writer for the story and the perfect marriage between life eventer and author. Did you have to feel a rapport with the person whose story you are telling? How much responsibility do you have for the veracity of the story? We all know that memory is an unreliable reporter – do you fact check or is it a POV as told to? This is fascinating – – congratulations. It sounds like a great career parallel path for your fiction!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Actually, one thing that might make my first project a little easier is that the clients want fiction based on fact. It’s their story, but in the end they want a book that can be read by anyone who likes a good page-turner.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting perspective. I’ve also found it difficult to accept ghostwriting, as it does feel like cheating. When a famous person writes a successful book, I find myself asking, “Who actually wrote it?” Which, isn’t wholly fair, as some of them really are writing good stories. I will have to think on it some more now. Congrats on the project, and HOORAY for the award!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sometimes a client will want the writer to be included with their name as the author. Like FAMOUS PERSON with Peg Brantley. Or JAMES PATTERSON and Peg Brantley (don’t I wish). Sometimes the writer’s name is buried in the acknowledgements, and sometimes it doesn’t show up anywhere at all.

      Thanks for the HOORAY!

      Like

  5. Congrats! 🙂 I’m interested in getting into ghostwriting. I’m finding it kind of hard to find ghostwriting jobs though (especially for newbies with no experience). Do you have any advice on where to look?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, I didn’t look, but was found. You might consider searching out a publisher who works with people who want to have their story told and develop a relationship. I’m sure they’re out there. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

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