Ghostwriting: What it feels like to NOT see your name in print

Ghostwriters are the Cyrano de Bergerac’s of the writing world. In case you’re not familiar, Cyrano de Bergerac is a French play, in which a nobleman soldier is in love with his cousin, Roxanne. However, he soon finds himself caught in a love triangle as the poet and scribe for Christian de Neuvillette; the man with whom Roxanne has fallen in love. Cyrano begins with a letter he’d written himself to Roxanne and signing Christian’s name begins the first order of ghostwriters. There are probably others before this play, but its Cyrano which, to my mind, embodies the idea of the industry.

Christian de Neuvillette felt too shy and didn’t think himself witty enough or smart enough for the likes of Roxanne and so began a courtship through the amorous stylings of Cyrano de Bergerac. But, we’re not talking about a love story in 17th century France.

Today,  we’re talking about a thriving industry used by the likes of James Patterson, Clive Cussler, celebrity “authors”, and myriad businesses around the globe.

Ghostwriting Helps Me Hone My Writing Skills

If you’ve ever written a letter or business document for your boss, you’ve done ghostwriting. If your business website has a blog and you keep it up to date, chances are you’ve either ghostwritten a post yourself or hired a ghostwriter.

When I began writing professionally, I got paid $X/article. Because I was new to the industry, I hadn’t yet established a system, and that amount broken down over 4-5+/- hours of hard research, writing, proofreading, and editing worked out to less than a cup of coffee per hour, but I kept at it. In my mind, it was a means to an end. I could hone my skills and build a portfolio. It was a win-win.

And it worked. Today, I ghostwrite or ghost blog, if you prefer on a fulltime basis. I write in the tech space, the digital and analytics space, recruitment, and for fun, an action/adventure series.

3 Things I’ve Learned as Ghostwriter

  • I’ve learned about different styles of outlines and how to create my own. You can read about my experiences in Sharpening Your Focus.
  • I’ve learned how to make good characters have flaws, bad characters have empathy, and how to craft a character “persona” for a business or create a brand voice.
  • I’ve learned how to research top trends to stay topical for business and I’ve learned to say “no” when a client fit isn’t right.

Why Would Anyone Need a Ghostwriter?

Businesses are busy! Global reach and scale has allowed businesses to expand through social media, websites, blog posts, and thought leadership articles on industry leading sites. Add to that the rise of AI, Machine Learning, and Natual Language Processing (NLP), and of all those seemingly disparate parts they have one thing in common; the need for the written word.

It’s not just businesses who are busy. Authors, small business owners, startups, you name it. But, let’s take a minute and look at authors. It’s not just the James Patterson’s of the world who use Ghostwriters. Ever wondered how one author can put out so many books in a year? Or what about realizing your favorite author writes under more than one name? No one person, regardless of their dedication, can churn out so much at one time. They need help. Otherwise, when would they sleep or eat?

For example, I’m the fourth year into my third book and will likely scrap it because the way I write has changed. But, only one book of mine is available on Amazon and I wrote it 5 years ago. Actually, I wrote it ten years ago, but first published it 5 years ago. And the competition between then and now to be seen is fierce. Which means, within the last ten years of writing professionally, I have one self-published book and articles I can count on one hand with my own byline.

Like any artisan, writers continuously hone their craft. Thanks to my clients who have helped me along the way offering constructive criticism and positive feedback. Both are appreciated and needed. Thanks to my mentors who have taught me the broadstrokes of running a freelance writing business and walked me through the basics of SEO. Don’t worry, I’ve passed it on.

If you’re looking for a writer who can help keep your blog posts up-to-date on a regular basis, need a lead magnet like an eBook or whitepaper, or have a story to tell, shoot me a note. I’ll be your Cyrano.

 

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