1. Justin Attas

    Justin Attas Member

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    Questions for a Ghostwriter

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Justin Attas, Apr 24, 2020.

    Here's something that never fails to rouse the crowd at gatherings,

    I was a ghostwriter for a little over a year. In that time I wrote 17 books for various clients. This blows people's (non-writer's) minds because, aside from music, there isn't really an equivalent service in other businesses. An agreed upon contract wherein one person does all the work for a lump sum, while a different party gets the credit and royalties? It's weird.

    People always have a thousand questions. I figured people in the writing community might have even more, and more insightful ones! So I'm opening up the floor for questions. Anything you ever wanted to ask a ghostwriter? Hold nothing back!

    Hope everyone is well,
    Justin
     
  2. Than_urb

    Than_urb Member

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    Hi Justin,

    Thanks for the proposition and yes I have some questions for you :)

    1. How the hell did you ended up there ?

    2. Do you still write your personnal stuff aside ? If so, do you think it's helping or deserving you ? If not why ?

    3. 17 books !? Wow... and that's leading to my last question, which is for personnal use. I have ended the 3rd version of my first novel. My alphas and betas liked the characters, the style and the atmosphere but pointed out a lack of suspense. Do you have some tricks or tools to improve that (as I will write a 4th version focused on that precise point).

    Thank you very much man :)
     
  3. Justin Attas

    Justin Attas Member

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    Hi! No problem, I'm always glad to help out a fellow writer.

    1. I was looking for a way to make money writing instead of feeling miserable at my 9-5 dayjob. I subscribed to a lifetime membership with a website called Writers Work. It's like indeed but specifically for writing. I saw the ghostwriting position there. If you're looking for writing jobs, Writers Work is a great way to find them.

    2. I did still write my own personal stuff. I was going crazy without a schedule so I made my own. Ghostwriting in the morning, then my own writing in the afternoon, then filming/editing my writing help videos in the late afternoon-evening. Honestly, ghostwriting in so many different genres was a huge help to my own writing. Experimenting with different styles and POVs helped my own dramatically.

    3. I actually have a really simple trick for suspense. Dramatic irony. Works every time. When the readers know something the characters don't, it causes instant tension/suspense. A super simple way to do this, while also deepening your characters, is to show snippets of what your antagonist is up to. Don't give away his/her whole plan in these segments, but give some insight into what the main characters have coming to them. When the readers know a threat that your characters don't, they'll be on the edge of their seats waiting to see how they deal with it. This is especially true when you only divulge part of the antagonist's plan.

    Hope that helps! Let me know if there's anything else I can do! :)

    Justin
     
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  4. scorpia95

    scorpia95 New Member

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    Really? Everywhere I search, people call WeWork a scam because they simply aggregate job postings like Indeed.

    Did you have to show prior work before getting the ghostwriting gig? Did they give you a test/sample that you had to write to prove your worth?
     
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  5. Cdn Writer

    Cdn Writer Senior Member

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    I'm wondering......I assume the story is "Person's" but he's not a skilled writer so he hires you to write the story as he tells it, making it....marketable? Fine. Why don't both of you go on the book as the author?

    "Story of Person"

    By: Person with Justin

    Wouldn't that be more honest and clearer?

    Second question: what happens when the book sells? Do you as the ghostwriter collect on-going royalties or do these go to Person only after he's paid for the initial work?

    Thanks!

    Scott
     
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  6. Justin Attas

    Justin Attas Member

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    Good q
    questions. So I used Writers Work- I've never heard of WeWork. It had a ton of writing gigs that I've never seen on indeed. Also, I told them up front I'd never been a writer professionally, but I had to submit a writing sample with my application. They were impressed, so they had me write a trial romance piece. They liked it, so I got the job.
     
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  7. Justin Attas

    Justin Attas Member

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    You got it right. The story belongs to "Person". Many of the customers use pseudonyms and operate as if they are the author. They basically provided a story "pitch" (a very loose idea) and I did all of the planning. I had to run my plan by them and, if they liked it, I wrote it. It was 98% done by me, but their name went on the cover. I was paid a one-time fee for writing based on wordcount between $500-$1200. After that, all royalties went to "Person" as the author, on paper.

    If it sounds unfair, that's what led me to leave the job. I was working endless hours to pump out books like no one's business, while having no time to spend promoting my own book. It was infuriating to see these people get 4-5 star reviews on something I wrote, while my book had none.
     
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  8. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    So, I guess the question for me with my adding machine is: 17 x $500-$1200 = $8500-$20400, do you document your writing hours, and did you come up with an estimate of hourly wage?
     
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  9. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I think it happens all the time. Most building contractors have a variety of subcontractors to do most of the actual work on a job site, from the architect's plans to the final landscaping. Session musicians lay down their tracks and collect their paychecks but never see much in the way of royalties or credit. True, it may not be to the extent that ghost-writers experience.

    (Speaking of session musicians, there have been quite a few great documentaries on them: "The Wrecking Crew," "Standing in the Shadows of Motown," and "20 Feet from Stardom," for starters.)
     
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  10. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    Hah, this was my thinking too. I think the phrase is, "Ghostwriters... and every hourly wage employee ever."

    One of the frustrating elements of being in IT is that all my output is property of the shareowners. They get the million dollar patents, I get a salary.

    The entrepreneurship involved in writing is part of why it appeals to me, actually. Disconnecting my time*labour calculation from returns really appeals to me. (This is why I brought up the hourly wage calculation earlier - if I'm not making more than dog walking, I'm going to downgrade writing from 'business' to 'hobby' and treat it differently.)
     
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  11. Justin Attas

    Justin Attas Member

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    Yes, I did actually calculate my hourly wage once, with my writing pace. It worked out to $17 an hour. I'd typically work with no days off for 2-3 weeks at a time, for 4-5 hours a day (ghostwriting only).
     
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  12. Justin Attas

    Justin Attas Member

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    That was exactly how I felt. $17 an hour isn't bad, but it wasn't nearly enough for the amount of story boarding, outlining, and actual writing I was expected to do, only getting 2 days off every 2-3 weeks.
     
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