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:
- 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.
- 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.