Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Guest Post: Life As A Ghost Writer by Kelly D Smith

Today's post is a guest post from the lovely Kelly D Smith from the My Life As A Writer blog. If you haven't had chance to check out Kelly's blog yet, here is a little more about her:
Kelly D. Smith is a Canadian romance author and ghost writer.
Born in the GTA Kelly moved to the woods of Quebec when she was 14 years old but currently lives in Saskatchewan. A gypsy at heart, she has lived in 7 homes in 7 years and loves traveling, which you can often see in her writing.
Being homeschooled her entire life Kelly was able to dedicate her time to reading and writing. When she turned 18 she attained her GED and has never looked back with regret.
Ghost writing is something I have heard of, but never fully understood all the in and outs, so when Kelly submitted a post about ghost writing, I was very excited to learn a little more about it! Anyway, enough from me, over to Kelly's fab post:

Life As A Ghost Writer… Not As Spooky As It Sounds!
Life As A Ghost Writer - Not As Spooky As It Sounds!
Have you ever heard of ghost writing? Most people haven’t. Hell, up until 9 months ago I hadn’t! Now it’s my job.

So, what is ghost writing? You ask.
Well, ghost writing, in a way, is another name for freelance writing. But not quite the same.

Freelance writers differ in the way that I write for people. Ghost writers focus mostly on books, biographies are very popular but I’m pretty sure there are ghost writers for every genre out there- I do romance and there seems to be an ample supply for jobs for that!

It’s a great business to be in. I’m able to help provide people with a product that they are happy with and I’m able to be paid for it in return- more than I make as an author at that!

A lot of people ask me if I feel like a fraud for providing people with a manuscript that they will say is their own, a lot of people are very… shall we say judgmental… about my line of work but that’s okay with me. It’s estimated that about 50% of books are actually ghost written. The Hardy Boys was.
As a ghost writer I’m able to help provide for my family, I’m able to make my own hours, and do something I’ve always dreamed of doing (be a writer for a living). What’s not to love about that?

Of course it does kind of suck that I’m not able to take credit for some of the work I do, I write some things that I am very passionate about! But that’s life, there will always be downsides to stuff.
Most of all though, ghost writing has been an amazing experience and it’s a great way to try new things.

I’ve published 6 books before, under my own name, and it’s amazing how much I’ve learnt from just 6 months of ghost writing. Clients are one of the best ways to get feedback. They will be harsh if your product isn’t good, but if it is good they will tell you, they provide feedback and sometimes even booklets on writing the genre they want you to write- and most of all you gain experience. The more you write the better you will get, the more you will learn. And you get paid to do it!
Another popular question I get is “How do I become a ghost writer?”

Well, thankfully that is pretty easy.

I work through a third party website (Like ODesk or Elance) to ensure that both myself (the writer) and the client are as safe as we can be. Meaning I get paid and they get their product. Did I mention these sites are free to join?

Once you create your profile, there are dozens of jobs to apply to. Getting your first job can be hard, it took me 56 failed attempts before I got my first job!
Once you’re on the website it’s easy to get around. They don’t make it hard to figure out (thankfully!) and then it’s really just a matter of figuring it all out.

When you get hired for a job you will talk to the client a little bit more about the details, set up a contract and then you will have a due date.
As a ghost writer it is your job to provide a client with what they are looking for and what you have agreed on with them. Sometimes this means writing something you don’t want to, other times it means going through 4 edits for them (though I suggest you put in a edit limit!) and other times it will be a piece of cake.

 Quick Tips
Before we part ways I wanted to leave you with a few quick tips I’ve picked up along the way.

* Have a killer proposal; it probably won’t take you 56 tries if you have a rock star proposal!

* Always read everything clearly! Always!

* This is a hard one, but learn to say no. If a client wants you to write something you don’t want to that is okay. Just say no. If they want to underpay you then they aren’t worth it, no matter what they may make you think.

* Give each message time to sink in, even more so if it is a negative one. It always helps to think for an hour about what you want to say, and reread the message a couple times

* Clients might always be right, but that doesn’t mean you can’t express yourself! If you think something isn’t good don’t be scared to say it, but…

* Understand that you are writing someone else’s project! It’s up to you to provide the client with the content- no matter how bad it is.

If ghost writing is something you want to do, stop by my blog to ask any questions or just read more about it!
Show Kelly some love:
Check out her social media: Kelly always welcomes comments or questions from her readers and can be found on Twitter & Facebook
And of course, why not leave her some comments below :)
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  1. Interesting. I had heard of ghost writing, but I didn't realize that it was so prevalent. I saw some of those offers on Elance, and I wonder at how low some of them are. How cheap is too cheap?

    1. Same here Liz I thought it was mostly celeb autobiographies, interesting to learn how wide spread it actually is!

    2. Kelly D. Smith15 July 2015 at 20:03

      Honestly when I got into it I didn't realize either!
      It's hard to answer your question, it really depends on the writer how cheap they are willing to go. I've had some clients offer to pay me $10 for a 5000 word project. Personally, I suggest NOT doing that!
      On the other hand I know some people (ghost writers) who charge $900 for a 10,000 word project! Again, not something I suggest.
      I charge $13 per 1000 words, but for repeat clients I'm willing to work with them on price and normally decide on $10 per 1000 words. I can't speak for anyone else but that's where I am on the price scale.

      It comes down to what the writer and the author(the client) are willing to agree on. As a client you want to get the most bang for you buck, but you also want to hire someone who is GOOD,
      As a writer you don't want to feel unappreciated.

      I hope that answers your question! :)