“For all intents and purposes, a ghost doesn’t exist. But they do exist and today they are all around us.”
The Complete Guide to Ghostwriting, by former journalist Teena Lyons, is a behind-the-scenes look at what is sometimes a secretive industry. She draws on her network to provide the insight of a wide range of different ghosts and publishers, including former HarperCollins publisher Natalie Jerome, ghosts such as Shannon Kyle (Jade Goody’s ghost) and even David Beckham’s ghostwriter Tom Watt.
She covers the relationship between author and ghost, how publishing contracts work, and how to prevent a project from going wrong. I picked this book up back in August when I started ghostwriting and have found myself consulting it regularly.
Here are five pearls of wisdom from Teena and other ghosts:
1.) In ghostwriting, you really do get what you pay for.
Aggressively haggling over the price of your ghost isn’t a great idea if you care about the finished product. I’ve often found that a person who makes an initial approach but instantly starts trying to reduce your fee is going to be challenging to work with. Remember: It’s a two-way street and we’re interviewing you too. Also, if you’re really on a shoestring budget, why not head to one of the freelance sites that feature ghosts who’ll write your book for a few hundred quid?
2.) “Don’t be shy about getting personal - ghostwriting is personal. So ask the sensitive, squirmy questions you know the reader will be asking.” Lynne Barrett-Lee.
3.) “If the author feels judged, they will never relax, open up or talk honestly.” Andrew Crofts.
4.)“Ghosts can’t think of themselves as mere writers for hire. They are entrepreneurs running a ghostwriting firm.”
This cuts to the core of how good ghostwriters operate. It’s not just about writing. Keeping an ear out for opportunities, asking for referrals and making time for marketing are all part of the job.
5.)“If a ghostwriter yearns for the pleasure and delight of seeing their names on the cover when they wander through Waterstones then they are undoubtedly in the wrong profession.”