Ghostwriting, or writing for somebody else where it will appear as if THEY wrote the article or book, isn’t something new. You can go back to the Bible and find instances where the Apostle Paul had someone else write his letters for him. He dictated, they wrote. Ghostwriting is much the same.
The Author, whose name will be on the cover, usually has an idea of what they want, some notes and research, a story, maybe an outline, some chapters written, a defined market for the book, and maybe even a publisher.
The Writer (that’s you), brings a combination of experience, ability, excitement about the project, the time and energy to complete the writing, some ideas about how to finish, and, in some cases, advice on how to format, publish, and market the writing.
In essence, you are selling your work to someone else to use as their own.
Wait a minute. That’s plagiarism, isn’t it? No. Because you are selling the work to them. It’s like a (gulp) job. If you worked for a company that builds houses, their name is on the house, not yours, because they paid you to do it.
Doesn’t ghostwriting steal your creativity? I would hasten to say no; it feeds creativity because it provides an outlet, it provides the opportunity to learn as we work, and it provides the resources necessary to fund our own personal projects.
Some writers say they don’t want anything published that doesn’t have their name on it. The Apostle Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, doesn’t have one book named after him. Be honest: seeing your name on the cover of a book fills your heart with pride. Are we writing for the glory of God, or for our own pride? If we’re writing for God’s glory, then it won’t matter whose name is on the cover.
Ghostwriting is a great way to generate income when you’re between projects. You can hone your writing skills, particularly if you’re asked to complete a project that is outside what you usually write. The process can develop strong friendships with the Author as you work together, often hearing intimate details about someone else’s life. It’s a good way to put you in your right place: as transcriber of God’s stories.
Ghostwriting projects abound. You can find them through groups and organizations such as The Christian Pen, through online writing groups, publishers, and through personal referrals. Let folks know you’re open to ghostwriting, keep improving your writing skills, and allow God to drop that perfect project into your lap.
Always have a contract that spells out the details and contingencies of your agreement. Expect to spend some time talking with the Author, and build in time for research. Follow through and complete the assignment ahead of time as much as is it in your power to do. If you would like a sample contract, click on the Ghostwriting tab on my blog.
Donna lives in Denver with her husband Patrick, who is her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, who Donna says is cute and perky and everything she isn’t. She has ghostwritten several projects, but still gets a thrill out of seeing her own name on the cover. You can follow her and Leeann on Facebook and Twitter, and on their blogs at: www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com. Her websites are www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com and www.LeeannBetts.com.