My favorite kind of ghost writing request

Even readers who get through two or three books a week sometimes seem surprised to learn that the person whose name appears on a book’s cover may not have written it. If you are a regular reader (or even if you only read one book a year), there’s a very good chance that up to 30% of the books you’ve read are in that category. The author (whose name is on the cover) and the writer (whose name is not) are two different people. I’ve heard people say they don’t want to read ghostwritten books and I just don’t know why not. Surely, the only thing that matters is: Did you enjoy it? If you did, why do you care that you don’t know the writer’s name?

But that’s a discussion for another time. Requests to ghostwrite come in many forms. Some of the biggest names write very few of the books that have those names on them. Instead, they prepare a detailed outline of what they want. Lengthy descriptions of every character. A scene by scene breakdown of each chapter, saying exactly what has to happen. They probably contain other things, too, but by that point I’ve stopped reading. I don’t take on jobs like that. I respect people who do, but those gigs have no appeal for me.

The kind of instruction I like most goes a bit like this one. “We want it set in this state. We want corruption, gambling and at least one murder (but NO GORE). Sex is up to you, but if it happens, keep it off the page. We want enough humor to keep people engaged. 65,000 words; fee –“ I’m leaving it there, because the amount they paid me is between me and the taxman. But I accepted that assignment the moment I read it and writing the book gave me great pleasure. In fact, the enjoyment I got probably showed in the writing because that book flew high for weeks in the Amazon Top 50 for its genre.

The reason I like gigs like that so much is that what I enjoy most about ghost writing is the creation. Taking an idea that could be written on a small envelope and turning it into a 60,000 word book. (That also explains why I don’t take on those detailed instruction packages I talked about earlier). Hannibal Smith in The A-Team used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together,” and that’s almost what I’m talking about but not quite because I like to start before there is a plan. What attracts me is when we know where we are, we know where we have to get to, but how we cover the ground is up to me.

If you have a project like that and you need a ghost writer, get in touch.


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