Hopping Aboard the Ghost Ship

Are We There Yet 2

“It must be so fascinating to be a ghostwriter,” an interviewer once said to me. “Do you get to go to a bunch of séances?”

It took me a beat to realize this woman assumed I had built a professional career around talking to dead people. Silly as that sounds, it does speak to the fact that a lot of people are clueless about what ghostwriters do. Furthermore, they often confuse a ghostwriter’s role with that of an editor or collaborator. While there are certainly crossover tasks among these three, their actual distinctions are predicated on pricing, anonymity and risk.

As the saying goes, everyone has a book inside of them and – for today’s business owners – adding “author” to your professional profile speaks volumes about your credibility as a purveyor of products and services. Not everyone, however, has the time or skill sets to make that book – or, for that matter, blogs, articles and syndicated columns – a published reality, especially if they’re busy running a company and managing employees.

The obvious solution is to pay someone to be your silent (wordsmith) partner. The question is: How much “ghosting” do you want and need?

To use a seafaring analogy, you’d hire a ghostwriter just as you’d hire a master shipbuilder to deliver you to your desired port. For an agreed-upon price, the ghostwriter turns your concept into a marketable – and seaworthy – project, navigates the challenging waterways, and lets you take all the credit for the creation of that fabulous “vessel”.

In contrast, a collaborator is a partner with skills comparable to your own who builds the project alongside you, assumes an equal share of investment and risk, and expects the reward of both a split credit and half the profits.

An editor is like a painter who gives your DIY boat a fresh cover coat and some touch-up. If, however, an editor knows nothing about water-tight construction, scraping off barnacles, or how to avoid pirates and Krakens (publishing scams), don’t be surprised if you sink before you even get out of the harbor.

Lastly, neither ghostwriters nor editors receive remuneration beyond their professional fees, nor – unlike collaborators – do they participate in any pitching/selling of the finished projects. And, of course, all three arrangements require formal contracts to define ownership rights, timeframes and payments.

If you’re still not sure what type of kindred spirit could best assist you and your company, drop me an email at authorhamlett@cs.com with “Ghostwriting” in the subject line. I offer a free 30-minute phone consultation to discuss projects, answer questions, and provide reasonable quotes.

In the meantime, here’s this month’s exciting line-up of guest blogs:

Why Do Research Before You Incorporate A Business Name? – by Debbie Nguyen

The Self-Published Author as Entrepreneur/Small Business Owner – by R. Travis Shortt

When Should You Consider Someone From Outside – by Archie Ward

The Vital Leadership Question I Couldn’t Answer – by David Dye

How Integrating PR and Social Media Can Become a Partnership of Results – by Janette Speyer