There are Ghosts, and then There are Ghosts


Last decade’s print-media implosion left an awful lot of good journalists, writers, and editors out of work. And scads of them  turned to what Marty Nemko predicted in a 2009 US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT article would be—and, indeed, is–the #1 occupation for writers in the current marketplace: ghostwriting.

This proliferation of ghostwriters is a major boon to the vast majority of people who want to write a book but either don’t have the time, don’t know how to get started, or have already written a first draft and realize it needs help. Such aspiring authors can find that help in many places on the Internet, through many off-line connections—and on many tiers of competency and sheer raw/polished talent.

Since finding a ghostwriter is almost as easy as finding a self-publishing service these days, let’s talk about those tiers of ghostwriters, and how what you’re willing to invest affects what you’re likely to get in return.

English: Outside of the Aquarium of the Pacifi...

English: Outside of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just like in any other endeavor, ghostwriting is very much a “you get what you pay for” proposition. If you put your faith in someone willing to write your book “on spec”—i.e., they’ll wait to get paid until you sell the book and start making money from it—you might as well go to Vegas and watch the roulette wheel spin without laying down any chips. You have no one to blame but yourself when you don’t win.
Can they guarantee a bestseller? Are you interested in some wonderful Florida swampland?

When you pay someone peanuts to write your novel, memoir, or nonfiction book, chances are the resulting manuscript will be worth just that: a couple jars of Planter’s. People who work for clerk’s wages are trying to break into the business, not offering experienced, professional editorial services. Can they guarantee a bestseller? Hopefully, they’ll guarantee to finish the project.

You can go ahead and lay down the cost of a new washer and dryer set, and the relatively inexperienced ghost you attract will hone his or her skills on your manuscript. Your project will be an immense learning experience-for the ghost. They’ll not only absorb all you have to say in the book, but they’ll learn about how to work with clients (from working with you) and how to put together a real book (from putting together yours). What will you learn? That not everyone who calls themselves a “ghostwriter” has the same ability to deliver a marketable product. Can they guarantee a bestseller? Are you really asking?

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pop for the cost of an SUV, and you’re likely to find someone who understands what they’re doing, has done it successfully a number of times, and has a fair amount of expertise under their hands. They may not have myriad New York publishing connections, but they know how the game is played, and they can lay out your options and guide you along the path from development to print or eBook production.  Can they guarantee a bestseller? No, but they should be able to guarantee that your manuscript will be given the serious consideration it deserves by the industry, critics, and the reading public.

Invest in what Princeton’s Angus Deaton, Ph.D., and Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D.  tab “The cost of happiness,” (The cost of happiness is exactly $75,000) and you’ll be dealing with a top professional, someone who can introduce you to agents, printers, and publicists and help you work out an effective plan to get your title into as many readers’ hands as possible via as many distribution/marketing/promotion channels as possible. Can they guarantee a bestseller?  No guarantee, but they’ll give you all the tools and resources you need to pursue that prize.

When you get into the government-grant-to-study-something-everyone-already-knows arena, you’ll be able to land a hi-status, high-profile ghostwriter with a lot of industry and crossover (film, TV, etc.) connections. They may even have their own small presses or be affiliated with leading agents and publishers.  Can they guarantee a bestseller? Keeping in mind that a random act of terrorism, Mother Nature, global economic or political upheaval can derail your buzz— yeah, they probably can. But then, you’re paying them the cost of a “starter home” to make it happen!

Claudia Suzanne is the first ghost to deconstruct (Secrets of a Ghostwriter) and teach (Ghostwriting Certificate Program, CCPE/CSULB) how ghostwriters do what they do.  Her next online program begins February 16; registration is open now at California State University – Long Beach. She is also the founder/creative Partner of Wambtac Communications LLC, a family partnership dedicated to raising the literacy bar of the book industry and professionalizing the field of ghostwriting through education, community, and editorial-service excellence.  Wambtac Communications LLC is producing Ghostwriters Unite! on May 3-5, 2013 at the Hilton Hotel in Long Beach, CA.

Academic and business blog posts

Here are some blog posts I recommend from academic and business acquaintances of mine. – Rand Kemp

Why so many blog posts about kids?  Because we have too many US mass killing sprees.  Perhaps some good articles on proper childhood care can cure this current and future trend?




Writers book publishing sites – Bookemon and Freado – plus copy stuff

Here’s a publishing question we will explore this week:

  • I have just completed the draft of my first novel of about 50,000 words. It is a story about an Anglo-Indian young man who decides to become Indian. What is my next step?

Assuming you had this proofread and it’s in polished form.

An on-demand book printer at the Internet Arch...

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You can either self publish or find a publisher. As far as publishers go, unless you are an established, big name writer, it is very difficult. The best way is to secure an agent, which is also hard to do. You need to send query letters, which usually has a short sample attached. If you Google “query literary agents”, you will find some URL links to guide you.

Many business leaders like to have books they written, to give prospective clients. Usually, these are self publishing endeavors.

I would suggest looking at Bookemon and Freado, to sell your books in e-format and get more readers online.

Bookemon is also about selling books. What you need to do is to build the book, by uploading the existing cover graphic and the corresponding document (i.e. PDF file), and the book is available to preview and buy. It’s a print on demand when you buy, so they seem to set the selling price for you (i.e. based upon number of pages).

Freado is similar, except that it’s easier to create the book to check and buy (although Bookemon is not that much harder to use). In Freado, you are pointing the user to an external site, where the book is for sale. Bookemon handles all the selling and print-on-demand for you.

Both services – in their basic form – are free to use. I have a link for some old novel drafts I did in freado at B2B TechCopy business website.

What I would do is have the cover and document, together in a PDF form – for Bookemon. I would have the cover graphic separate from the PDF for Freado. This way, creating the book for both will be very easy.

Don’t forget the e-reader options. They are popular with Apple, Amazon and Google.  I don’t know if you could ever convert a Max user – it’s a cult, in my opinion. Not that I have anything against the Mac. But Steve Jobs and his marketing associates do sell the lifestyle aspect well! I know many Mac users. Mac is also preferred by creative types. But from a practical technology level – a PC has more software available.
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You can also offer the book at Amazon via Create Space.  Create Space is an Amazon company.  If you put them on Create Space, then you can put it on Amazon.  At least, this is how someone in a LinkedIn group explained it.

Here’s some commentary from the field.

Blog common on post about keeping writing simple

James Joyce statue next to O'Connell street in...

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I like today’s article. Keep the writing short and sweet.

The same elements you bought up for blogs, also apply to B2C copy – with a few added touches. People scan the main points and short paragraphs. They usually look at the headlines and PS first. Write in conversational tone. Think of talking to a friend – over a drink – in the bar.

Bullet points focus our attention. They help break up short paragraphs and focus on key points.

Sub headers also capture our attention and usually focus on benefits.

Numbers also apply to copy. The ad, “5 Ways to Cure Corns,” ran in the National Inquirer for years (during the paper’s peak years). I got this tidbit from renown, direct response copywriter and marketer Ben Hart.

Say! These great points about writing effective blog posts also apply to good B2C copy.

I remember reading a book entitled The Adweek Copywriters Handbook by Joseph Sugarman. He invented many things – like Blue Blocker sunglasses – and was a multimillionaire entrepreneur, marketer and copywriter.

He said the purpose of the first paragraph of copy, is to get you to read the second paragraph. The purpose of the second paragraph is to get you to read the third paragraph. Yada, yada, yada (reminds me of a Seinfeld episode).

You seem to have all the time in the world, to write posts and comment at XXX. It shows you are a good thinker.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t have all the time in the world to think and write. I have full-time work with B2B Technology copywriting and ghostwriting – or trying to secure clients for such endeavors.

Spontaneous thinking comes from stream of consciousness writing, which I usually do for XXX comments (i.e. James Joyce). Deeper thinking probably comes from my lifelong love of philosophy – both Eastern and Western. It’s a good training ground.