Write a Book with a Ghost

Face made of smoke

(DGIwire) — Authoring a book is a dream for most people. Some actually sit down and write that book themselves, be it a memoir, novel, play, poetry, short stories, young adult/children’s book or business book. Maybe they write to help raise their reputation and rates, or anything else they deem worthy of their precious time and hard-earned money.

Yet others find another way to accomplish their objective of becoming an author: they intelligently seek out the very best collaborator—by asking other authors for references, doing online research or generally vetting the kind of writer they believe will best serve their needs. That person might be someone with whom they share co-author credits, who works for back-end book sales or royalties only, sharing the risk and the rewards. Alternatively, it might be someone who gets a “with” or an “and” in front of their name. That person might or might not get paid, and they might or might not get some split of any publisher royalty and future book sales. Then there’s the ultimate out-and-out ghost: the invisible midwife who pulls your story out of you and writes it both with and for you. You tell your story to your collaborator and he or she wordsmiths it so that it is as well-expressed and powerfully effective as it deserves to be.

Many bestselling authors now collaborate; James Patterson and Tom Clancy are just two who make no secret of it. Many celebrity memoirs are completely ghostwritten. When Flowers in the Attic author V.C. Andrews died, her enormously popular series continued unabated for years—and still does—under her name.

But how does the would-be author find that special someone? Be cautioned that not all ghostwriters are created equal. And no, it’s not just a question of talent/no talent. Judy Katz, a longtime ghostwriter who’s penned 32 books and counting, elaborates:  “Lots of writers can ace their own writing projects.  Getting inside another person’s visions for their book, being able to write in their voice, and being able to express their ideas rather than one’s own is very difficult.  All authors seeking a ghost-writer need a collaborator who has the ability to feel someone else’s pain, get under their skin and help tell another’s story to the world.”

Here’s the really good news: if you understand it’s a numbers game and stay enthusiastic as you search everywhere for your perfect match, there is a collaborator or ghostwriter out there who’s right for you, with the right fit, the right price or arrangement, and especially an uncanny ability to help you birth your book. Then you’ll need to find the right publicist to market your book. But that, as they say, is another story.

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