Tag Archives: ghost writing

A Good Ghost Writer is a Must

You want to write your story but you aren’t a “writer” per say. Lots of family and friends have been telling you for years that you need to get your story down in book form because it is so incredibly interesting. Still…how do you find someone who can help you get that story out? My answer….very carefully….

As a life-long writer I see the importance in story. I believe that we all have one and that everyone should be able to tell that story if they feel so inclined. I also feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong in hiring a ghost writer to help you with that task. It’s still your story…you just need a little good old fashioned know-how. I don’t do plumbing but if I want my pipes fixed I’m definitely going to call a guy who knows his stuff.

Hiring a good ghost writer is important if you really want the story you tell to be yours. I have seen a lot of writers over the years try their hand at ghosting and it is not as easy and one might think. There are some hardcore “musts” that you ghost writer has to have in order to be able to work with them.

  • Time – Hiring a ghost writer who is overwhelmed with other clients is never a good idea. Hire someone who only takes on a few projects at a time.
  • Experience – Hire a ghost writer who has ghost written, not a writer who thinks they can pull it off. Ghosting takes a unique set of abilities such as listening, reporting and compiling someone else’s story without trying to make it their own. Too many times I have heard stories about how a ghost writer came on-board and suddenly the story took off in a different direction. A good ghost writer will tell your story, not their version of your story.
  • Tier payments plans –I am a huge believer in tier payment plans. If your ghost writer has set up their contract write the contract will tier the payments at important points in the project. Part down, part on first 50 pages, part on first draft delivery and the rest on final draft; this way both writer and story teller are invested in the project.

These are just a few of the things to consider when hiring a ghost writer. Something as precious as your story should not be left to a hack or someone who doesn’t care; it needs to be done right. You need to have a connection with the person telling your story…without it your story will not be what you envisioned. Take your time and find the write ghost writer…in the end it will be worth it.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on September 5, 2022 in Business of Writing, Writing


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Writers and Disappointment go together like PB & J


I write this after a very disappointing experience. I took on a ghosting job, worked on it for over 7 months only to have the client stiff me after they received the first draft. The client is sitting nice – they essentially have the “work” while I sit here at my desk feeling like a one legged man in a butt kicking contest.

This isn’t the first time a client has stiffed me and, sadly, it won’t be the last. For some reason folks feel it is okay not to pay the writer much of the time. I think that perhaps if we had some protections in place this might not happen so much. Sure we use contracts but sometimes those aren’t as good as the paper they are written on. They are supposed to be legal and binding but we all know that taking a client to court is expensive and, chances are, they still aren’t going to pay you.

Here’s the thing though…should I stop taking on ghosting clients now that I have gotten stiffed? No, I should never quit because as much as some folks will screw you there are others who truly need your services. I like to think that this client will have to deal with karma in the end. Good things don’t come to people who do things like this. It still doesn’t take the sting out of it though.

My advice to those of you who ghost write or are thinking of ghost writing….be careful. Make sure that you are covered at every turn. Use a contract, get your payment in increments and make sure that you deliver the first draft in person. My mistake this time was not doing that. I e-mailed the client the first draft on the promise of a payment which never came. Writing is a tough business, perhaps the toughest in terms of getting the respect you should but it is worth it in the end. You do have to learn to live with some disappointment though so understand that going in. Remember…one dragon at a time.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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There is More to the Story than the Final Line

I do a lot of ghost writing. While I wish I was independently wealthy and had enough money to just work on my books…alas…I don’t, therefore I take other writing jobs. I do actually enjoy ghost writing, as a journalist for many, many years I have always loved telling other people’s stories, but, as with any writing job, ghost writing has its pros and cons.

One of the largest “cons” if you will is the writing itself. While I am always motivated to do the work, sometimes my clients are not. They begin the project with me and almost always there comes a time when they (the client) start to drop off a bit. I have to wrangle them back and refocus them back towards the project. Sometimes it is easy because the client is invested in the project but at other times clients get side tracked by everything else. It is for this reason that when signing a contract I try and make it very clear to the client that they have to commit to the project.

Ghost writing is just that, ghost writing, you are writing someone else’s story. If they don’t tell you the story there is nothing to write. Then it gets into a time wasting effort and no one has the time or money for that. So in an effort to help other writers out there who want to ghost write, here are some things to say to a potential client BEFORE signing the contract…

1. Make sure you are committed to the project – Just because a client puts a down payment down it doesn’t necessarily mean they will stay focused.
2. Explain the way you work – Remember that often times the person you are ghost writing for knows nothing about how writing works. They instead have a romantic notion which is often wrong. Explain the writing process so there are no misunderstandings.
3. Set a specific number of times to meet each week. If you are working for someone with a lot of time on their hands they can take over your life. Set it out in the contract that you agree to meet X number of times.
4. Explain the way the payment plan works – almost all ghost writers work with payment plans; set specific goals and then stick with them. You don’t want the project to start costing you money and it will.
5. Goals are fluid – Life happens so it is important to write that into the contract. Make sure that your client understands that sometimes life slows us down and it’s okay.
6. Finally, you have to finish at some point – Your client has to take part in the process. You have to be able to get the story from them and the only way to do that is to work together.
These are just a few things to consider telling a client before signing that contract. Remember that the contract binds you both.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on March 24, 2023 in Writing


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Ghost Writing 101- Tips to Keep You from Becoming a Moneyless Zombie

I have been ghost writing for a long time. I enjoy it to some degree, telling other people’s stories but I have to admit, there have been times when it’s bitten me on the keyster. Early on, before I knew better, I didn’t work with contracts and I would find myself in for more work for less pay. (or no pay at all) Or I would find myself 6 months in and the client suddenly deciding they have changed their mind and walking way. (or deciding after watching me for 6 months that they can just do it themselves…I love that one) Needless to say I have learned a lot of lessons the hard way. If you aren’t careful and you do it incorrectly, you could find yourself a moneyless zombie – tripping through the motions, broken because your self-worth is gone with the phrase, “I’m not paying you” – instead of the lucrative ghost writer you should be.

Whether you ghost novels or articles, there are some things to keep in mind if you are to make a living at it. I find it interesting that currently there are a lot of internet companies cropping up that claim they can keep you knee deep in ghosting jobs and for actual pay. Be careful of these folks…a lot of the time they end up with part of the money that you worked for and that’s not always okay. I mean if you are doing the work, why should others get the cash?

I’ve decided to share some of what I have learned over the years when it comes to ghost writing because I see so many of these services. Maybe, I can save you some grief…or at least save the lives of those scam artists out there that you will trip across. (And trust me; there will be times when you will want to kill some of them)

Use a Contract – This is rule number one. How do I know that? Because I have been burned like an effigy of Roman Polanski at a Back to School night. (I’m wondering how many of you got that now) Even well-meaning clients often get screwy when money is involved. Working without a contract is literally standing on the highway in your underwear, you are asking to get hit and it won’t be pretty when it happens. Set up a basic contract and then ask other writers about their experience. It is a learn-as-you-go process but learn you must.

Allow yourself time – We writers have a sense of urgency about darn near everything. Because of this sense of urgency we tend to promise things before its possible…I know…I do it all the time. (1200 word article that I have to research by noon? Sure……) When you are ghosting you have to allow time for research, interviews and then the actual writing followed by edits….you are going to spend some time so give it to yourself in the contract.

Outline the WHOLE process – One mistake I made early on was not outlining the process from start to finish. I worked with a client once who was so able to take advantage of me, I lost my shorts. There is an interview process, the outline, the first draft, the second draft and the final edits and the final draft. These are all very time consuming, make sure you lay it all out or your client will think you are conning them when you say, “no this is only the draft copy”. I know, I’ve been there and it was a $2000 mistake thank you very much.

Define the terms – I can’t stress this one enough. Most of your clients will be non-writers so they will not understand the basic of terms. Define for them (IN THE CONTRACT) what a first draft is and includes, what the edits are, what the final draft is…if you don’t they will look at you half way through and question what you are doing. Remember money is involved and money makes people stupid. (Seriously)

Put any addendums to the contract in writing – AND you both sign them. No matter how much we love this thing we do, it is a business at the point where we are doing it for other people. You have to treat it like a business because, (have I mentioned) money is involved. The only way to legally hold the client to the terms is to have them spelled out. If half way through the project you redefine what the project is, put it in writing. If the client offers you more money, put it in writing. If a box of Twinkies a week becomes part of the deal, put it in writing. PROTECT yourself….

Ghost writing can be a lot of fun and it can be lucrative, but it can also be a mine field. You have to protect your own interest no matter how creepy it feels. (and I do think that the business part can feel creepy at times) If you don’t think that you can take care of the business side, get someone else, who you trust, to do it for you. There is money to be made ghosting but unless you want that money to be of the ghostly nature too, dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s.  In the spirit (ha ha) of the month of October (my fav by the way) there is nothing scarier than working your behind off and not having a ghost of a chance of getting paid….(hee hee) Get out those contracts and protect yourself, your money and ultimately your sense of self.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Posted by on October 2, 2022 in Business of Writing


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Reset Sunday – Not All Publishing Industry Minions are Good People

Today our Reset Sunday column is a little different. I want to take a moment to discuss bad people in a good industry. This is often something we don’t think about because…well…we don’t want to. It’s not pleasant to acknowledge that there are people in this industry (writing) that we love so much, who are just down right mean…but there are.

Case in point…I recently worked with a guy who does SEO articles for websites he designs. Okay, let me rephrase that…I recently worked with a guy who had OTHER people write articles for websites that he built after which he told the website client that the articles were actually his work. Now this isn’t normally a bad thing because I do a lot of ghost writing but, this guy didn’t say it was a ghost job and when the accolades went forth for the work…he took all the credit.

I don’t know about you, but I charge differently for ghost work. The reason? Because when you sell ghost work you are selling all the rights to the piece. You can never use that piece again because it goes out into the world with its adopted parent and frankly, the adoption is a closed one. Ask me to do that and it will cost you slightly more. This guy never said a word and, in the end, I got screwed. Bad, bad man!

I found myself, after this recent experience, musing over the fact that someone within the creative industry would screw over a fellow creative. It made me mad. Then my spouse brought up a very good point….they said, “you can’t get too mad, the guy is human and humans screw each other over no matter what they do”. While I agree with the summation for the most part, I have to take issue with the implied acceptance of the condition of fellow creatives. Maybe my spouse is right and the “human factor” explains this guy’s pension for being a d-bag but in the end, shouldn’t we be able to expect more out of each other because we are creatives? I think so.

So today’s Reset Sunday mission is to consider that, as creatives, we have an obligation to treat each other with respect and dignity. We need to ensure that we take into consideration that we are all walking the same path and therefore need to be kinder to each other. So reach out to a fellow creative today and tell them that you understand their struggles and are there for them. It will make all the difference in the world. And, in the meantime, be careful who you choose to work with…make sure that they are NOT an evil genius… owe yourself much more than to be taken advantage of.



© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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Reset Sundays – An Important Tool for Writers

Writers set a lot of goals for themselves. We have number-of-word goals, chapter goals, character goals, page goals…it goes on and on. The reason we are so goal oriented is because our projects, the writing, require a heavy commitment. As any writer will attest to, if you don’t set a goal and a deadline, life will get in the way.

In my household I have an 18 year old, an 11 year old, a spouse who is a nurse, an adopted greyhound, an over-needy cat, a breaded dragon with attitude and a freelance job that requires me to write for 5 national magazines. I am also working on a ghost writing project that is lasting roughly 6 months. As you can see, time management, on my part, is a must. The problem is that I often set goals that the Universe kicks from under me. In fact, it happens on an almost daily basis…it is easy to get discouraged.

What do I do when I get to Friday and half of my goals are not met? I used to get depressed and spent most Saturdays admonishing myself and quietly whispering “I’m a failure”. Then one day a friend of mine said something profound…she said that Sundays were a beginning, both actually and symbolically. She explained that her mother used to call it the reset day. If the she and her siblings had gotten in trouble during the week, on Sunday the slate was wiped clean and everything “reset”. She explained that, in her family, Sunday was not only the beginning of the week but also a renewed start on things they hadn’t been able to accomplish the week before. Sundays were literally a new beginning. Needless to say, I jumped all over that. Now, for me too, Sundays are my new beginning. I let go of what I didn’t accomplish and a reset my goals.

Now this logic won’t work if you continually have to reset the same goals, so I’d say set yourself a limit, say 3 resets. In the long run it is a great idea. As writers an unmet goal can actually stop your forward momentum all together and no one wants to see that happen. So set aside Sundays as your rest day and then actually reset your goals and priorities with no further admonishment of your previously unmet stuff. It will give you a chance to renew as well as a chance to forgive your muse for allowing life to get in the way the week before.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.




Posted by on February 19, 2023 in Inspiration, Writing


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