How to Get Started As a Ghostwriter

Angela Booth

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A ghostwriter writes for other people. "Ghosting" is fun and lucrative. The only drawback is that you don't get your name on your work, except in very rare instances, when an "as told to" credit is given. A ghostwriter writes articles, books, speeches, and resumes. Ghostwriters who write books earn around $10,000 to $50,000 per book.

It's easy to find ghostwriting work, and once you get several clients, people tend to pass your name around, so that you don't have to go looking for work.

Ghostwriting articles, speeches and books is a form of copywriting, and you'll get most of your work from business people. The easiest way to get started is to let business people know that you're available. Keep an eye on your local newspaper. Whenever you see a business person being interviewed, send them letter or make a phone call to let him or her know that you are available to ghostwrite articles, speeches and other material for them.

In your letter, include sentences like: "If you have no need of my services at the moment, please feel free to pass my name on to others. If you'd like to chat, I'm available on_" Your aim is to make yourself sound friendly, approachable, and business-like. You don't have to write a long letter. Just a short note is fine, if you have a website include your URL, and if you don't have a site, say that you would be happy to send some writing samples.

You can also get ghostwriting work from outsourcing companies like However, if you visit outsourcing sites, be careful not to under-price your work. This is because the prices you charge say a lot about you, and if you get into a rut working for low-paying clients, you won't have the time or energy to look far higher paying clients. This leads to burn out.

The easiest way to get ghostwriting gigs is to have your own Web site, and offer ghostwriting services there. Although you'll need to promote your site so that people can find it, your Web site is your 24 x 7 salesperson for your ghostwriting services business.

Ghostwriting Tips

Ghostwriting has pitfalls for the inexperienced. Here are some tips:

* Always have an agreement. Never write ANYTHING without an agreement. While few people are dishonest, many people have unreliable memories. If you are new to ghostwriting books, get a lawyer to draft your first agreement. Any project with a fee over $10,000 requires a professionally drawn contract;

* Insist on access to the person you're writing for. If your client is a celebrity or business person, getting access to get the information you need can be difficult. Include sentences in your agreement to cover access, such as: "I need information to write for you. This means that I will need at least X hours of your time to complete this project. You understand that failure to grant this access means termination of this agreement. Any retainer and fees already paid are non-refundable";

* Don't make promises that you can't keep. The publishing industry is a mystery to outsiders. Don't promise that someone's memoir will definitely be published by a major publisher. Unless you've been hired to ghostwrite the memoirs BY the publisher, you have no control over publication. You can of course offer to send pitch letters to publishers (make sure you get paid for this) but don't promise publication;

* Don't get shoved into unworkable time lines. To outsiders, writing seems much, much easier than it is. Bland statements like "This will be easy for you, I'd write it myself but I don't have the time, " should start ringing alarm bells. Stand firm on a deadline that YOU know you can meet, or walk away;

* In the same vein, remember that you're a professional - you know writing, the client doesn't. If your client is famous, don't be intimidated. You know what you need from the client to do a good job: make sure you get it.

So there you have it - your introduction to the wonderful world of ghostwriting. Some writers make ghostwriting a complete career, others make it a highly paid sideline. Many people need ghostwriters, and after you've done a job or two, demand for your services will grow.

Angela Booth is a veteran freelance writer and copywriter. She also teaches writing. Visit her blogs - Angela Booth's Writing Blog at and Fab Freelance Writing at for daily writing inspiration and motivation. Subscribe to the Fab Freelance Writing Ezine at to receive “Write And Sell Your Writing: The Power-Write Report" free. It's 21 pages packed with information to help you to develop a six-figure writing career.


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