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How to be a ghost writer - Copify

How to be a ghost writer

As much as we might like it to be otherwise, we all know that writing doesn’t always pay well. Although there are many who make a successful living from it, most struggle to balance the books, whether they’re a freelance copywriter or the aspiring author of a novel.

If you think that we’re going to tell you to be sensible and look for another career, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. If you love what you do but just wish that it could be that little bit more lucrative, we think we might have the perfect solution for you: ghost writing.

How to be a ghost writer - CopifyBut how does one become a ghost writer? Most professionals wrongly believe that they need one important asset which they lack, this being connections who have the money to bankroll a writing project.

In focusing on this, they forget the skills they actually can bring to the table, foremost amongst them experience, a talent for the written word, and a fantastic work ethic. These are what make you suitable to tell other people’s stories, if only you’ll put the effort into getting yourself out there.

The benefits of being a ghost writer

If you’re wondering what possible perks could make this additional effort worthwhile, then consider the following:

You’ll be paid upfront: For ghost writers, there is no wait on royalties as there is for those who write their own books.

You’ll be in the green: Ghost writing is lucrative. Provided that the right clients come your way, you’ll earn more than you could for any of the other writing services you offer.

You won’t need to market: You might be making a lot of money as a ghost writer, but you won’t need to work as hard as you imagine. It’s not your name on the book, so the marketing you would normally need to do will be taken care of by somebody else, leaving you free to move onto your next project as soon as you finish your current one.

You’ll find evaluating your work easier: Unlike those writing a novel of their own, this book will not be solely your brainchild. Many ghost writers claim that this makes it far easier for them to be objective when working on it, and better able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their work.

You’ll find it interesting: Depending upon the clients you secure, you might also find that some really interesting work comes your way. You’ll have the chance to get an insight into other people’s lives, professions, and experiences, and may well find that you enjoy learning more about these.

You’ll become a better writer: Last but not least, many claim that ghost writing helps them to improve their art, as it constantly challenges their writing skills. With a pre-paid order in place, you’ll soon become far more organised about meeting your daily word count goals, and will find that writing other people’s stories will give you a chance to test what works best before writing your own books.

How to be a ghost writer

With all of this in mind, the idea is probably starting to look exceedingly attractive, but how does one actually become a ghost writer? We suggest that you try doing the following…

1: Gain experience

As is the case with any profession, experience will stand you in good stead for finding employment. Although you may not be able to secure yourself a ghost writing gig straight off the bat, make sure that you do what you can, whether this is blogging, writing for print publications (even if this is in a voluntary capacity), or self-publishing a book. You need to show that you can do everything a good ghost writer must, so write, write, and then write some more, covering as many sectors and topics as possible, and demonstrating as many styles as you are able to.

2: Practise your art

They say that one must write for 10,000 hours before they can consider themselves to be an expert, and there may well be some truth to this. Although gaining experience that looks good on a CV is invaluable, you should also focus on getting in as much writing as you can in an attempt to improve your art. After all, it is little good ticking boxes to gain experience if you cannot actually deliver when a ghost writing gig comes your way. Write at every opportunity, read as much and as widely as you can, and always be willing to accept feedback, both positive and negative, for it is this that will help you to improve.

3: Educate yourself on your role

We’ve focused above on how you can make yourself a strong candidate for ghost writing roles, and we should also mention some more secondary skills that will be essential to the performance of such a position. Namely, getting to grips with what such a job will require of you.How to be a ghost writer - Copify

Firstly, try to educate yourself on the collaborative nature of such roles. You will be writing somebody else’s book, and although it will be your words, it’s their story, so being able to set aside your own ideas and deliver the sort of content that somebody else desires is a vital ability for any ghost writer.

Secondly, be aware that you’ll also need to possess management skills, as it will be down to you to structure and organise your materials, potentially conduct interviews and research, and ensure that the schedule set out by your client is always adhered to. If you don’t think that the reality of this will suit you, ghost writing probably isn’t the right fit.

4: Know who to contact

It’s not only celebrities who will wish to tell their stories through somebody else’s words. There are many people who lack the time or ability to write a book themselves, and they have to find ghost writers somewhere. Although some will source such individuals through publishers or book packagers, others will search online, so make sure that you keep an eye out, and get in touch whenever a potential opportunity arises. Additionally, make sure that anyone who decides to do the searching themselves can find you by creating a strong web presence that’s SEO optimised and professional in tone and appearance.

Take the first step today; follow our advice and change your career path for the better.


Main image credit: Jason wilson
Image credits: Free ImagesConnor Einarsen

Jordana Sacks

Jordana joined Copify in 2014 and has written on everything from business and education to the home and photography. A talented and experienced copywriter, Jordana has a background covering both in-house and freelance projects for a wide range of clients. Her portfolio includes online copy and print media, from business websites to niche blogs, email newsletters, infographics, scripts, book jackets, and more.