I think this is a good place for the topic.
I got started ghostwriting a million years ago when someone had a great idea and didn't know how to get it on paper. I got paid $300 to write a 50k word story.... and that's in million years ago money, so it was a LOT.
Word of mouth kept me employed for many more of those years. And then the internet came along with its double edged sword of more people. There's tons of work around, but also tons of competition. Ultimately, your work speaks for itself. The people who bid ridiculously low and can't write get weeded out. Your awesome reviews keep you at the top of your game.
Writing! All the time. If I had the bollocks I'd have quit my day job a long time ago. But I just don't.
Money. Sometimes super awesome. Sometimes meh. But still money.
Great stories get to be told. Some of the stuff I've worked on has been so fun.
Repeat clients keeps you from having to bid and care where your next check is coming from. I stay booked months in advance. Often, I get hired to edit the works of other authors under their care. It's a nice break from the constant writing.
You can choose what to work on. Full books? Articles? Editing?
Basically the flip side of every point I just made.
You're writing ALL the time. It can consume you. And you put your work aside to do paying jobs. Or at least I do.
You get paid but if you're working online, the site takes a cut. Sometimes that's a huge cut. And of course people try to get blood from a turnip. They want you to work for less than minimum wage. I turn down a lot of offers because of the rate.
Sometimes the client wants a really bad book written or makes you polish a turd. You end up slogging through some boring stuff just to get a paycheck when you need one ASAP.
Getting hired to edit or fix work from a low bid bad quality writer can suck big time. It would often be easier for you to just rewrite the whole thing, but the client sure isn't gonna pay for that!
Probably the worst con -- you see behind the curtain. I've seen my work cited as a medical journal on a skeevy lawyer commercial about Mesothelioma. I'm quoted as a knowing professional, and I'm not. I did my research, but still. You realize how much stuff you read is just SEO drivel and not true content. Or it's a spun article rehashing something they stole from another site. It does make you a better consumer, because you can spot the fakes better.
And of course -- other people get rich off your words. Or you see your book on the shelf with someone else's name on it.
Overall, I do love it. Right now I'm making good money and I'm booked until the new year. But I haven't released my own series because I'm too busy writing other people's stuff. And I write in my sleep because it takes over my whole life. And the deadlines! But this is what I signed up for. I want to write full time and I'm making it happen. If I could just quit the day job without having a heart attack, I'd be better.
Rambling mess, I know. Hope it helped though.
This is completely fascinating to me, I'm absolutely ignorant of the entire ghostwriting world. It sounds like you requests across all sorts of media - non-fiction articles but fiction books too? How long does it take you to work on a full book, and how much involvement does the original "author" have - do they check on your progress or do they just expect you to deliver the final product?
Yes I do books mostly, but some articles when I'm getting burned out on books. It really varies between jobs, but they have their deadlines and you agree to them beforehand. It's grueling because most clients want a 50k book in 5-6 weeks. I had a client want 30k in 2 weeks. Every 2 weeks. I did a couple like that but had to stop. Could you imagine if every month was Nano?
I use dictation sometimes, trying to use it more, so I can get the word counts. But it's still very hard to keep that pace with a real job.
For full books, you set up payments. A little when the outline is done. A little more for the first few chapters or 10k words. And so on.
As for what they provide, it varies greatly. Most of them usually have a concept that they want written. They'll tell you what they want, but don't always have it fleshed out very well. Then there are some who have very detailed outlines. Those are the best. You can just crank out words.
I also had a client, after working together on a couple of his ideas, he'd call me up randomly and say "Hey I had a dream about kids who had super powers and found a portal to another world...can you write me that?" And I would.
Absolutely fascinating. What is the big difference between ghostwriting and just writing for you? And have you ever considered just writing your own stuff?
@Josey I write my own stuff too. I take the ghostwriting jobs because I gave birth to 4 tiny mouths to feed, in rapid succession. One job wouldn't cut it.
The main difference, for me, is that it's so much easier to get words on paper when they're someone else's words. I can fly through deadlines with no problem. The Cozy books I was recently working on had a 30k words every 15 days deadline. And I did fine.
In contrast, my main WIP that I keep picking up and putting down has taken 4 years. I keep meddling and tweaking and generally not publishing for various reasons.
@toasha How intriguing. I think I might be a bit like you. I can be hung up on my own stuff for years (I have like 6 WiP at the moment), but if someone else wanted me to tell a story about them, their character, etc, it's pretty simple. Well, once I get past the "Yeah you forgive me for anything I do to your character right?"
@Josey Yep that's it.
Actually Epoch started as a brainstorm for that guy who said "Give me a story about kids with magic powers, but don't kill anyone. It's for kids." And Epoch all came to me at once, like watching a movie, but in it I'd killed everyone. Everyone. Plus there were no magic powers. So I tabled that one for myself and then wrote his magic kids story.
And I have a ton of WIP too. I store them all in my Book Bank. I think it helps me not get bored. Might take longer to write one book, but at least I'm writing something. I switch genres to liven things up a bit. Or whatever strikes my fancy.
When I first started ghostwriting I was worried about everything I said, too. Then I realized that these people hired me because I could write. I didn't need to worry about whether it was good. They saw what I could do and loved it. So it will be good. I guess it's a boost to confidence in your ability and sets you at ease.