Several people have asked me that over the years, even wondering if I've ever hired a ghostwriter myself. Of course, the answer is no. I've never needed one. I am a ghostwriter. That doesn't help others evaluate whether or not they should consider hiring a ghost, I know. But this might.
When I hire on as a ghost for authors, I work closely with them. That's pretty common. What's far less common is that I help them land a literary agent to handle the sales of the work once I've finished with my end, and I make myself available for any editorial changes that might be required in seeing the book through to publication—no matter how long the pitching process goes on. For example:
I finished a memoir for a client, who loved it. But, the overall consensus from publishers after a few months of shopping it around was that it was too short.
Okay, I got it. So, I came up with some scenarios for additional material, received the author's blessing, and, with a little more information, worked up another 15,000 words, or roughly a quarter as much as we had originally prepared. No extra charge to the author, just a little more time to round things out. When I was finished and the author approved it, we turned it over to the agent who went back to the original publisher with it. The result was a sale to a conventional, advance-paying publisher, and the book is currently being prepared for release as I write.
In another case, I had two clients with two different books (one fiction and one nonfiction), and when we were finished with the writing, I made some suggestions to their agents as to which publishers might be receptive to them. After fifty years in the industry, a writer/ghost gets a pretty good feeling about such things. The bottom line is that the agent sold both books to one of the publishers I recommended, and today, the books are out and selling, and everyone is happy.
I like to think of my work with authors, particularly young or inexperienced authors, as building a pipeline between the author's idea and the published product. Until we reach the end of that pipeline and the book is released, I don't consider my job complete. And, I'll do whatever is necessary to make sure the job is complete.
So, if I were to speculate as to whether or not my clients found the experience of hiring a ghost was a good investment, I'd have to say without fear of contradiction, yes. At least, that's what they've told me. I still stay in touch with even those clients whose books have already been published. I think of them as part of the great, big, sprawling family of talented people just looking for a hand up and a path to success.
Whether a client wants a book for business purposes to advance a career or simply to have a personal account or history to leave to friends, family, and anyone else who might appreciate or benefit from it, I'm always grateful for the opportunity to play a role in immortalizing at least that one person's story.
Smoke if you've got 'em.
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D. J. Herda is author of the new eBook series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere.