I haven’t really talked much about my job here on my blog. Sure I’ve mentioned it here and there, and I do have a “hire me” page, but never have I really gone into much detail about what it’s like to be a ghostwriter. So, today, that’s what my post is about.
I’ve been a freelance writer/ ghostwriter for about a year now. In the beginning I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing– I even know what kind of freelance writer I wanted to be. I just wanted to write for a living.
Why did you become a freelance writer?
It actually goes a lot deeper than just me wanting to be a writer. If all I wanted to do was write, I could have done anything else and wrote my own stories in my spare time, but I wanted more than that.
There are two truths behind this that I haven’t really spoken about. The first is that I’m incredibly antisocial and have pretty bad anxiety. I worry about everything, even things I don’t need to or have no reason to worry about. Throughout high school, this made just the thought of having to hold a real job absolutely terrifying. Even now, when I consider myself mildly successful, I’m worried about failing and needing to pick up a “real job” in order to hold my own. So when grade 12 rolled around, I pretty much did everything in my power to find a way out of getting a day job. Somewhere along the lines I heard about freelancing, and I shouted to myself, “I’m saved!”
The other reason is that my writing actually really sucked when I started. I’d just finished the first draft of my novel, I knew it was crap, I knew my writing was crap, and I wanted to find ways to get better. By that point I’d done tons of research on how to improve my stories– “show, don’t tell”, “don’t use so many adverbs”, “give your characters flaws”, “keep things grey, not black and white”, etc., etc.. But I didn’t have any practical way to practice implementing these tactics into my writing, short of working on the second draft of my book, which I wasn’t ready to do.
That’s when I discovered that people were willing to pay for crappy fiction. So came up with a plan: I’d settle for low paying fiction writing jobs while I improved my craft, then once I got better, I’d seek out some more lucrative gigs and start working on the second draft of my novel. Essentially, that’s what happened.
What is ghostwriting?
Simply put, ghostwriting is where you’re paid to not receive any credit for your work. You write something and sell the story, as well as the rights to it. It’s no longer yours when the job is done.
Doesn’t it bother you that you don’t receive any rights or credit for the work you’ve done?
In the beginning, not at all. Most people who approached me had their own stories ready to be written, so I didn’t need to use any of the ideas that are sacred to me in order to make next month’s rent.
Now that I’m getting much better at writing, in some ways it actually is starting to bother me. It’s not always about the stories themselves, but it’s the fact that I’m getting paid to write harder and better. The reason I was okay with it before was that the stories were simple and mindless– but now that I’m actually challenging myself, I get attached to the work and want to make it as good as possible. In the end, however, it’s still the same. I need to sign everything away.
Are people really willing to pay for crappy fiction?
Yes, and they still are, even though I now try to stay away from it as much as possible. I mentioned above that when I first started, my writing sucked. It did. It sucked donkey balls, to put it mildly. But here’s the thing: there were and still are people who are much worse at writing than I am. Most of us know about the plethora of horrible self-published writing on the market, and there are a lot of people who are willing to pay for someone to write something slightly better than what’s out there already.
If anyone has any more questions about ghostwriting, I’ll gladly answer them. Ghostwriting is the closest I’ll get to my dream of being an author for a while, but I really enjoy it and if me talking about it can get anyone interested in getting started or clear up any misconceptions, I’d love to help!