How To Become A Ghostwriter
Have you ever thought about becoming a ghostwriter? There is a lot of buzz about this lucrative niche for freelance writers, but you might be wondering how to break into it or if it’s a fit for you.
There is a huge market out there for ghostwriters, from writing blog posts for famous entrepreneurs to crafting novels for Kindle publishers. Depending on the writing you do and the clients you write for, you can pull in a decent living with ghostwriting. So here’s everything you need to know about becoming a ghostwriter.
What’s the appeal of being a ghostwriter?
You might wonder why someone building a freelance writing career would take gigs that don’t offer a byline. There are two main reasons people pursue the ghostwriting path:
Money – it offers quick cash for writing projects. Ghostwriting in addition to writing articles or your own books can provide a nice full-time writing income. It can also be a nice side income for working evenings and weekends on something you love.
No promotion – once you’re done writing the book you can hand it off and your work is done. No need to worry about whether your book will make a best seller list to earn you some cash – you already got paid!
Who hires ghostwriters?
More books than most people realize are produced by ghostwriters. There is a good chance that a book you’ve read recently was created at least in part by a ghostwriter.
Authors work with ghostwriters all the time to help them get their ideas and stories out into the world. Every genre you can imagine uses ghostwriters, too, from business to self-help to cookbooks to romance.
Ebook publishers on Amazon employ a lot of ghostwriters, as publishing on Amazon can be big business. Each of these publishers put out multiple books each and every month and simply can’t write them all themselves. Often, one ghostwriter can’t handle that workload either so they’ll hire multiple freelance ghostwriters.
The most popular genres on Amazon are romance fiction, YA fiction, business, and self-help. If writing in any of these genres is something you enjoy doing, you could easily find steady work as a ghostwriter.
What skills do I need to break into ghostwriting?
As with any freelance writing career, there are a few key skills you need to possess:
Great Writing – of course, to be a successful ghostwriter you need to be a great writer with a firm grasp of grammar, punctuation, sentence and paragraph structure. You also need to be able to nail down writing in someone else’s voice or style and change it up regularly for each project.
Organization – you’ve got to be able to stay on top of every project, all your notes and ideas for clients, and manage your calendar to ensure you meet every deadline.
Collaboration – Unlike a lot of writing jobs which are solo projects, ghostwriting is collaborative. You’ll be working with the person for whom you’re writing and helping them tell their story or share their knowledge base. You’ve got to be able to work well with other people.
What if I don’t have much experience?
Being a new writer or just new to ghostwriting won’t be a deterrent to landing ghostwriting for Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) clients, a great place to start your ghostwriting career.
Most clients are looking for a solid portfolio and past experience writing in similar genres and styles. Obviously, this comes with time, but you only need one or two solid samples to get started.
You can get around the lack of a large portfolio by writing a few samples in the genre you’re going after to show clients what you’ve got. It’s ok if it’s not published anywhere, the point is to get you a ghostwriting gig.
When pitching a client, you can suggest a short paid sample before you start the whole project. If they think you did a great job with the 1000 word sample, you could be hired on for the book. Offering a paid sample is a win-win for everyone as you are paid for the work you do and the clients are able to give a promising writer a chance without risking their entire book.
How much money can I earn?
How much money ghostwriters earn largely depends on the niche they target and the scope of the projects.
Ghostwriters creating blog content for top name brands can earn hundreds of dollars per article once they’re established. Starting out, the going rate is closer to 10 cents per word, and big name clients are a little harder to nail down.
Ghostwriters that want to get into writing fiction and other books for Kindle publishers can expect to earn about 1 cent per word. The good news here is that many ghostwriters can write multiple books every week in their niche once they’ve found a couple of clients. Once you have some experience, you’ll be able to charge a higher rate plus you’ll be able to produce books more quickly.
Another piece that determines how much you’ll make is the scope of the project. If you are collaborating with an author that intends to do most of the legwork, your project rate will reflect that. However, if you are doing most of the research, organization, project management, or even interviewing sources, your scope and project rate will increase accordingly.
As with most freelance writing, once you have some experience under your belt your income potential will grow.
How do I get clients?
Finding clients for ghostwriting is often easier than finding clients in other industries. SparkWrite is a great place to find new ghostwriting clients and often, those clients will need more than one book or blog post written. Amazon ebook publishers, for example, like to keep the same writers around to do entire series.
If you’re already working in a specific niche, be sure to let your contacts know that you’re branching out into ghostwriting as well. They may not have mentioned to you the book they’ve been meaning to write or might know someone in that position.
Ghostwriting may be a field of freelance writing you should consider. Whether you’re writing part-time around your college classes, supplementing your other writing income or just in need of some steady work, ghostwriting may be a great option for you.