Ghostwriting is a fascinating phenomenon in the literary and digital world. In an environment where everybody is seeking the image of a thought-leader, idea-makers are reaching out, more and more, for external help in presenting their ideas.
By definition, the concept of ghostwriting is simple. According to collindsdictionary.com, ghostwriting is to write on behalf of a person who is then credited as author. That just means somebody, other than the actual author, is going to get credit for the work. And, while that may sound bad, it really isn’t.
In reality, the world is made up of people with different skillsets. Some people are talented writers, and others have fantastic ideas and experiences that they don’t know how to put down on paper. And, while occasionally the two skills can be found within one person, it is a less common occurrence. So, the gap between inspirational content and the ability to coherently structure that content is a natural business opportunity for writers. It’s a way for the idea-makers to share their grand ideas, and for the writer to get paid for it. And that’s a win-win.
But how can you effectively “ghostwrite?” How can you write from the perspective of another person and be convincing? Well, there are four basic steps you can and should take to ghostwrite effectively. And here they are.
1. Interview your source.
Since ghostwriting is all about presenting someone else’s material, it is vitally important that you have a crystal-clear understanding of that material. And the way you do that is through a detailed conversation with follow-up questions and answers.
Note that it’s not your responsibility to ensure the voracity of specific data points – but rather, to pass on the information that your client gives you. If you have issues with the accuracy of content, be sure to run it by your source before making changes. Remember, it’s their story, not yours.
But there’s an additional benefit that can come from an interview. Aside from clarifying your understanding of the content, you can also get a feel for your source’s style and voice. And that can allow you to more accurately and realistically portray them in your writing.
2. Understand your client’s communication style.
Remember that, as a ghost writer, you’re representing your customer. For this reason, you, as the ghostwriter, should be invisible. That’s where the term ‘ghostwriting’ comes from. It includes the word ‘ghost–‘ because ghosts are invisible. Your purpose is to present someone else’s ideas in the same way that they would do it themselves, so that the reader will believe it came from your source. To accomplish that, you need to get a feel for the voice, vocabulary usage and communication style of your client. Look for ‘signature phrases’ that they frequently use in conversation – things that help to identify them.
There are a few different ways to get to know your source’s communication style. The easiest and most effective is a detailed interview. But you can also listen to old podcasts, and read content that they may have written for themselves in the past.
3. Find the themes.
Frequently, a ghostwriting interview can lead to a ton of information and potential directions for useful, written works. However, as a ghostwriter, it’s important for you to analyze all of your communications with the client to divine the salient points and find the overarching themes that can be found there. These are the points that your client most wants to make in the work you are preparing. They are the reason why you’re writing. And so, you have an obligation to highlight those points and themes, and to structure your writing around them.
4. Record your interview.
I already covered the importance of interviewing the subject of your writing. But to make that interview productive and effective, it’s important to be flexible and adapt to circumstances. Keep in mind that anybody who hires a ghostwriter probably leads a very busy lifestyle. So, get permission to record your interview. That way, you can mine more meaning from one conversation. It will allow you to function more independently, and to gain a better understanding the first time through.
In conclusion, ghostwriting is not a very complicated endeavor for a talented writer. The biggest challenge is in respecting and representing the voice of your source, rather than dominating the piece with your own personality. That’s a matter of humility and self-discipline.
As a talented ghostwriter, you can develop a reputation as a quality service provider – even though your work won’t be published under your name. That’s because your client-base is not the general public that reads your work. It’s made up of the friends, colleagues and even competitors of your client. Your clients will come from referrals. So, quality work can and will be your road to success.
If you’re a client looking for a ghostwriter, click here to see how Virtual Done Well can help you make the connection.