Okay, so where were we? Oh yeah, ghostwriting.
Funny thing happened with my last blog post. I mentioned the words “Donald Trump” and I got this really weird e-mail from some Trump-related organization or URL. I guess he tracks all things Trump so he can vet it and turn it over to his lawyers or something. So, with that in mind: Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump …
‘Cause I could use the publicity.
So back to ghostwriting …
How do you get these gigs, once you have proven the capability of writing a full-length book (which is, of course, job requisite numero uno)? Well, first off, look for the sorts of places who are looking for ghostwriters (duh!). There are agencies that specifically advertise that they pair ghosts with clients, or as they are often called, Subject Matter Experts.
A lot of folks just take out an ad and go solo. That’s risky, since you will likely have some upfront cost and greater liability, but it certainly can be done.
A better idea is to reach out to your lit agent, or any lit agent, and let them know you’re available for this sort of work.
Fourthly (this is the fourth idea, right?), you can look for book packagers. Now, I was under the impression that a book packager is someone who works at the UPS Store and packages your books for you. Naw, that’s not it. A book packager is sort of an agent and yet tends to create his or her own projects. This may mean that, say, Farmer Jones has fallen down his well and is suddenly on national TV as “a nation holds its collective breath to see if this heroic rescue will be successful.” You see those folks standing around who don’t look local and have cell phones up to their ears? They’re book packagers, waiting to go up to Farmer Jones to say, “Hey, wanna write a book?”
“Uh, I cain’t write.”
“Neither can Donald Trump. We’ll give you a ghostwriter. His name is Zukus and he works cheap, but that’s not important now. Just sign this …”
A book packager is sort of like an agent and sort of like a ghostwriting agency. The agent part is that they will likely represent the work when it is finished or possibly publish it themselves through their own channels. Unlike an agent, though, they may not necessarily be your literary agent, which has its upsides as well as its downs. For the ghost, the packager acts a lot like a ghostwriting agency, though, so do seek them out.
Once a book packager or two gets to know you and sees that you can do the job, they’ll have all sorts of disaster victims lining up for you to write their stories.
Lastly, there are major publishers themselves. This is the top of the food chain. When a Random House reaches out to, say, Donald Trump (I can’t wait to see how many e-mails this generates), they don’t expect him to stop making money in order to write a book. They get a ghost and assign that ghost to hang with the Trumpster for a while, taking down all his witty bon mots. Since they’re already giving Trump millions for the rights to do his book, there’s usually a lot left over for the lucky ghost, so as I said, it’s a primo gig.
The thing is, there are individuals who want their story told and will pay a ghost to bring it to life. They may look for a ghost via word of mouth, a Google search, or an ad. They may find an individual or perhaps an agency (book packager who in turn finds the individual writer). But the bigger bucks are in situations where there is already a publisher or agent/book packager who wants to represent the work and they become the ghost’s boss more so than the individual.
More to come …