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Ghostwriting: The Secret Weapon

When people hear I’m a “ghostwriter,” I can guarantee a conversation will follow. There’s something mysterious about the term, and begs different questions from everyone. Some immediately pitch me their story, others say they’ve written a book, others virtually dismiss the idea unaware I could make a living writing for others.

Fact is, ghostwriting is very common. Why? Lots of reasons, like people either don’t know how, have the time, or just seek that special touch a professional writer can bring. For the savvy author — CEO, doctor, coaches, artists, athletes, celebrities — a ghostwriter is a secret weapon.

Ghostwriters can be one of your greatest assets, because they help produce golden eggs, or products and services. Ghostwriters must have a well-rounded understanding of the economy, be curious about what matters, be able to synthesize volumes of material, and spell out the key points. Typically trained in Journalism or English, typical ghostwriters cut their teeth at lower levels of writing or editing, either at a newspaper, magazine or other publishers. But they can from from anywhere, but not everyone can be one.

One trait that comes naturally for me, is the ability to assume or mimic the identity, style, voice and even tone in the writing. It’s like being the Understudy to the Lead role in a play or musical. I wear the mask, looking inside the talent I’m working with, giving my best impression without straying off course. Along the way, I add the sizzle, so the written work delivers the passion that people long to expose and consume. We must be engaging or we lose the art of writing in the first place. So, having a pro ghost in your back pocket can help you begin to frame your thoughts and plans from the very beginning, and throughout the introduction of your project.

Not all, but I would guess most ghostwriters are extremely savvy shapeshifters and resourceful. We make things happen, bringing thoughts to life. Ghostwriting is more than a writing assignment, it’s business so we must know how to check the balances. Ghostwriting is an art form. But the individual must be able to carry enough confidence to advise highly-successful people in leadership, and the humility to do the leg work of research, writing briefs, notes, meeting recaps, obtaining interviews, and often handling meetings in absence of the author.

Ghostwriting sounds a lot better than just being a writer. That sounds hopeless, because we all know how difficult it is to complete a book, and we know most people rarely sell more than 500 copies. Besides, I’m beginning to think being a ghostwriter isn’t really what I do. Yes, I write with the best of them. Yes, I coach aspiring authors. Yes, I help publish and promote authors. And, yes, I have the connections to make virtually anything happen. Sometimes, I feel like the wizard behind the curtain, pulling all the strings. Often, I’m empowered with authority to lead the team, bringing decisions to the leader, and communicating on their behalf.

So, am I a ghostwriter or production company, a talent agent? Either way, if you have someone like me on your team, you will have a secret weapon who can help you build that exit plan, new business, or heck, write a book. It’s not easy, but with a pro, you can have the best experience of your life, and produce something you’re proud of, with a real hope of building an audience who enjoys your work.

I’m always looking for the next “best-selling” author or project. But there’s a lot more to it than having an idea for a manuscript. I can help you with that.

Listen to more about ghostwriting on this podcast, Writer on the Side, by Hassan Osman.

In the meantime, get it write. — David