Okay, I may have alluded to this at one point or another, but to supplement the millions I have made writing THE FOURTH HOUSE (Dear IRS: That was sarcasm), I work as a ghostwriter.
Needless to say, this is not the most common occupation in the world, and yet we ghosts help make the publishing world go ’round. I have no exact figures, but I would venture to opine that about 90% of all commercial non-fiction is ghosted, as well as a much smaller percentage of commercial fiction.
Don’t believe me? Do you really think that Donald Trump or Rachael Ray book in front of you was written by that celebrity? Where would they find the time? And just because a person knows how to buy and sell real estate or bake cookies, what makes you assume they also can sit down and write a book? There is no direct connection between these skills. And so, enter The Ghostwriter.
If this revelation isn’t already surprising enough, it may jolt you even more if you knew how many of us writers are out there doing this. Unless you are making J.K. Rowling money, being a novelist is not all that lucrative. Thus, instead of standing on the corner turning tricks, we resort to this.
Yes, sometimes we get co-writing or “as told to” credit, but that’s not really ghostwriting in the purest sense, although it is what most ghosts aspire to. By and large, though, we are, as the name infers, invisible, like Casper.
(The patron saint of ghostwriters)
How do we get gigs like this? Well, there are a lot of people out there who claim to be writers. What makes a writer a ghostwriter? I’d say that the primary talent is the simple ability to write an entire, engaging book. As simplistic as this sounds, many people from the world of journalism or other shorter forms of writing try to make the crossover and are unsuccessful at it.
I compare it to competitive running. A great sprinter does not automatically become a great marathoner simply because he or she decides to try it. A book is what I like to call “the long form” and if you’ve never done one before, for all your talents, you may not actually be able to do it. It is an art unto itself. On the other hand, once you have proven that you can work within the long form, you might possibly have the skills to do it again and again, only this time acting as a conduit for another person’s ideas.