How does ghostwriting work?

You have a story to tell. Now that you have hired a ghostwriter, a natural question follows. How do you get my story? How does ghostwriting work?

Before I landed in the ghostwriting game, I worked as a college journalist. One of my favorite aspects of that job was interviewing subjects.

In my career before becoming a ghostwriter, I also served as a social worker. For more than ten years, part of my daily routine would be sitting with clients and asking questions. Some questions were easy and others more difficult. As a result though, we would delve deep and get at the heart of their narrative in order to build a basis of story on which their file will live.

Before I ghostwrite a book, we undergo a similar interview process. I gather up all of the information necessary in order to give that manuscript life.

With modern technology at our disposal, our options on how that information gathering works opens up and the effect is, it breaks down borders. More so now than ever before, long term, intensive interviewing can be done in an economical manner as well.

I have worked with clients face to face in Portland, Oregon, my home town. I have ghostwritten for clients half-way across the world in Kenya, personal manuscripts brought to life by some early morning phone calls on Skype (and a lot of coffee).

As a ghostwriter, I keep every channel open for clients. A few things to consider though:

How often works best for you?

I like to tell new ghostwriting clients that we need to come up with something that we can sustain. Three times a week for three hours sounds great but it rarely works in the long haul.

Ghostwriter and client are in a marathon, not a sprint.

What mode of communication gives your voice life?

Part of ghostwriting is capturing the client’s voice. If you believe your emails are well crafted enough to convey voice, that will work. If you’re a talker, we get on the phone.

Are you comfortable being recorded?

This is a growing necessity for ghostwriters and once again, modern technology plays a role in making it easy. Rather than frantically trying to keep up with interview flow with pencil to paper, I tend to to record my clients. I turn the Garage Band program on my computer on and press record, freeing my attention up to focus on the conversation and ask better questions.

Often a client gets the ball rolling on email. We exchange messages and rough ideas. Being able to work by phone is critical too. Some things are best said rather than written.

In considering the question, how does ghostwriting work, communication is the most critical aspect of getting a project ghostwritten. Most likely, taking a manuscript from concept to completion will require a little bit of everything.

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Erick Mertz is a Portland, Oregon based freelance writer. He works as an assignment ghostwriter for clients in fiction, non-fiction and screenwriting. He lives in Woodstock with his wife, Lisa, his dog Boris and two cats.

Erick MertzHow does ghostwriting work?

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