Ghostwriting has become a popular option for writers in recent years. This can be attributed to the rapid growth of blogging where doors finally opened wide not only for professional writers but even for those aspiring to be one. Before you get into it, however, consider these four qualities you need aside from good writing skills:
You might say this should have been obvious, but what some new writers fail to anticipate is that you won’t always receive clear details on what you are supposed to write about. More often than not, you will encounter clients who cannot express their thoughts well and you’ll find yourself reading the instructions or information over and over, trying to figure out what exactly is the client trying to say. There must be a point there somewhere…you just have to find it! It can be frustrating sometimes, but then again, that’s the main reason they’re hiring a ghostwriter, is it not? It’s your job to translate what the client wants to express in ways that others would understand easily and appreciate.
Pretty much like a good journalist, you need to have the skills on asking the right questions. Other than personal referrals, most projects are likely to be negotiated and facilitated online or via email and the probabilities of miscommunication are rather high. If email is your only means to communicate, keep in mind that writing is usually not one of your client’s strengths so you have to clarify every vague area to ensure that you’re on the same page. Most of them are open to answering your queries rather than waste time and receive output that won’t meet their expectations.
Most writers prefer a specific writing style that makes them distinctive. The thing about ghostwriting is that you need to be flexible enough to shift from one style to another with ease, depending on the individual needs of your clients. Sometimes you’ll be working on a technical manual then move on to an advertising copy targeted for teens. How soon can you switch from one voice to another? Some writers take longer to shift between writing styles than others especially in the beginning but with practice, it usually gets easier after some time. If you’re seriously considering ghostwriting as a career, flexibility is crucial to maximize your earning potentials.
At this point, it is ideal to ask yourself, why am I writing? If your answer hedges on something within the vicinity of recognition or glory, you might think twice about ghostwriting as a career because it’s the last place to look for that. In fact, it will never be. The ghost part of the word should’ve made it pretty obvious, don’t you think? The term, in itself, implies that you’re not supposed to be seen nor noticed. No credit ever comes to you for every piece you write and the best you can expect on top of the paycheck is a simple “thank you” note from a satisfied client that hopefully also comes with referrals. So if you’re a writer thirsting for a by-line or credit, you might as well save yourself from the disappointment now. You can hardly use your work as part of your portfolio without crossing ethical issues, if not legal ones. When you enter the field of ghostwriting, you park your ego at the door and leave it there for a while so you’d better have a healthy self-esteem to handle seeing your work under somebody else’s name and carry on living without the need to tell anyone who cares to listen that you wrote this piece and that. Knowing that you are capable of producing a well-written work should be enough.
If you have these qualities and you’re really interested in becoming a ghostwriter, you’ll find that it can be fun and lucrative too if you’re willing to work hard for it.