WRITE: The Accidental Ghostwriter, Part II
As promised (after a short break while I traveled and taught at the Quad-Cities Christian Writers’ Conference—more on that another time), I’ll answer some common questions about ghostwriting. I taught a ghostwriting seminar at the conference, in fact, so I should have more than enough questions and answers to share.
How did you get started ghostwriting? For this answer, I’ll refer you to Part I of my “Accidental Ghostwriter” blogs. I call myself an “accidental” ghostwriter in the sense that I did not pursue this particular niche of my professional life. I also believe that God was intentional in this process and that there are no accidents as our lives are surrendered to him.
Why would someone want to use a ghostwriter? I could answer this question in several ways, so I will. People use ghostwriters for a variety of reasons. Some don’t have time to write their books themselves. They have a busy speaking, ministry, and/or business schedule. They’ve learned that their time is best spent doing what they do well. So they pay me (or another ghostwriter like me) to do what I do well—write.
Others have the desire or time to write but not the ability. Perhaps they can’t write or organize their thoughts at all. Perhaps they can write, but not at the level traditional publishing requires. In today’s competitive market, publication requires both a large platform (potential market/audience ready to buy your book) and excellent writing. The authors I serve usually have the first. And with my assistance, they can have the second as well.
Isn’t ghostwriting dishonest? That’s probably the stickiest question of all. My answer would be that I see nothing dishonest about my side of it. The author contributes his or her work/story/message, and I provide the writing. Our contract states what (if anything) I can say about my contributions. If someone else wrote a book for me, I’d want to put his or her name on the cover (generally as a “with” or collaborative writer status). But the authors I serve don’t always have that choice. Many entities are involved in a book moving from Point A to Point B, and neither the author nor the ghostwriter is the ultimate decision-maker. I rest in God’s sovereignty and authority over all.
My friend and mentor Cec Murphey’s reputation and experience now allow his name to appear on the cover of every book he ghostwrites. But that wasn’t always the case. For now, I’m content to know that the books I’ve written would not exist without the authors I serve and their message or ministry. I don’t want to take anything away from them. Ghostwriting has helped me grow spiritually as I’ve laid down the right to take credit (in some cases) for my work. God owns it all—and I don’t think he’s concerned about either my reputation or his own.
How do you find ghostwriting clients? I don’t. God brings them to me. In the case of Brent and Deanna Higgins (the authors whose book I Would Die for You began my ghostwriting journey), God showed me the value of the potential in their son’s life and writings. I offered to do whatever I could to help them without knowing I’d end up ghostwriting their book. Since that time I’ve never pursued a client. I know of ghostwriters who read or hear a great story and offer to write it. I prefer to allow God to bring opportunities my way. He’s proven faithful. And I found it interesting that, the first time I met Cec Murphey, he told me he doesn’t seek out clients either.
My greatest encouragement to other writers is to watch where God is already working and join him there. If we can’t gain our ideas and inspiration from him, we shouldn’t call ourselves writers anyway.
I discovered at the Quad-Cities conference that I love to teach on ghostwriting—and by the length of this blog, I love to write about it, too. Thanks for reading along. Feel free to ask more questions in the comments. Who knows? Part III of “The Accidental Ghostwriter” may lie ahead!
NOTE: Debbie Alloway is the winner of Words of Comfort for Times of Loss by Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison offered in an earlier blog. I’ll make sure you receive your book, Debbie, and your name will also be entered in a drawing for the special giveaway basket pictured on the original 3/30 blog post. Congratulations!
Readers, watch for more book giveaways as we continue our Read. Write. Pray journey.