What the Heck is a Ghostwriter?
A ghostwriter is a professional writer, usually a freelancer, who creates copy for other people for which the ghostwriter receives either no credit or limited credit. When ghostwriting a book, a ghostwriter may receive a cover credit such as an “As told to…” or even coauthor status, in which case the ghost writer’s name is usually below the client’s name.
And sometimes a ghostwriter receives a credit on the acknowledgments page of a book, often being listed only as the book’s “Editor” by the client. With screenplays, the ghostwriter may receive a simple screen credit near the client’s name.
But credits do not usually replace pay for a ghostwriter. The whole point behind ghostwriting is to make money directly from the client, often through advance payments during the course of the ghostwriter working on the client’s project. This is how I and most other ghostwriters operate.
I have been writing off and on over the past thirty years or so, and I know a lot about what my clients need and what their expectations are. A lot of people seem to think they have the next bestselling book or idea for a screenplay for the next million-dollar blockbuster, and although I hate to burst their bubbles, I generally have to. I can’t take only a percentage payment to work on a book manuscript, movie script, or screenplay in 99% of all cases. There is just no guarantee of sales.
Everyone has a dream, but you have to keep your expectations realistic in the overcrowded book and film markets. Basically, I almost never take a percentage to work on a project. But I am willing to work on almost any type of book, and I send out screenplay work to talented, optioned screenwriters on our team.
You see, ghostwriting can be a quite lucrative profession, as it entails receiving your pay upfront as you create your client’s project. The amounts you get for your work can range from $2,000 to beyond $100,000, depending on many factors, so it’s a good money-making field.
In order to become a ghostwriter, you need to have some already published work, and it helps to set up a writer’s website – with a posted resume and a portfolio displaying your best work. Of course, you will need to basically be a good writer as well.
It also helps to have a degree in English of some kind, and it helps to have previously published books under your own name and to have optioned scripts and possibly even received awards for your scripts and screenplays.
Being a ghostwriter is fun, profitable, and above all else – you get to scare people! Just kidding, but the amount of income you can stand to make from ghostwriting is indubitably scary, all by itself.