“If I was to write a novel about the paranormal, I think I would want to use a ghostwriter for greater impact.” (Michael Kroft)
This is something I love talking about. Is ghostwriting ethical?
I don’t think there’s a clear-cut answer and I know that some people have strong feelings about this, on both sides, so I’m just going to share my thoughts and how I see my role as a ghostwriter.
My sister was one of the first people to share her views that ‘it’s not fair’. She had her own reasons though as she is my biggest supporter and personal PR. She likes to tell people about the books I’ve written, mainly the ones that include her favourite canine, Reggie. Actually, it’s more about him!
As a ghost, I write on behalf of other people. I don’t ghostwrite fiction, so I am merely putting the lived experience and expertise of the people who hire me into book form. They’re not my stories, I’m the conduit, nothing more. I am collecting the words of the people who hire me and putting them in order!
The authors I work with as a ghost could absolutely write their own books if they wanted to. Just like, if I wanted to, I could do my own accounts. I have done the work, I have earned the money, it’s my business name on the submission, it’s just that I am not skilled with numbers. My accountant is incredible. She understands numbers and all things accounting. I happily pay her to make sure my numbers are in order and she completes the task in a fraction of the time it would take me. I don’t want to do them (insert a minor tantrum here) but I do want them to be completed.
I don’t feel there’s any difference with being a ghost, except it sounds much cooler! I love words, I love to write and I love that I can get earn a living doing exactly that.
There’s something exciting about seeing a book you’ve written on the shelf of a bookshop and nobody knows it’s your word-ordering that is contained inside the cover. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to living life as an MI5 operative. I was given Stella Rimmington’s book last year and have wondered how long I’d last undercover since reading it. Approximately three minutes, I reckon.
With the writing, I genuinely don’t feel that they are ‘my’ books and I love that the authors I work with can proudly hold their book and enjoy the journey it takes them on.
So, for me, ghostwriting is absolutely ethical. It’s a service that allows more people to share their wisdom and there can never be too much wisdom out in the world!
“They say in every library there is a single book that can answer the question that burns like a fire in the mind.” (Lemony Snicket)
I have a list of some of the questions that Dr. Google has been asked recently. These have been taken from a much longer list and directly relate to conversations I have had with writers over the past month or so.
Each writer has not only experienced these circumstances themselves but now has the expertise and experience to help other people going through this.
In six months, their book could be appearing as the answer to the question. Their book will show that they can help, they have a personal story to share and they have tried and tested tools to help someone else get through this.
- How Do I Deal With Depression Without Medication?
- How Do I Cope Without My Mum?
- How Do I Deal With Toddler Tantrums?
- How Do I Cope With My Son Going To Prison?
- How Do I Cope With Terminal Cancer?
- Why Can’t I Improve My Life?
It makes me sad that people are turning to a computer at these times in their life, but if they could find a book, written by someone who speaks their language, who relates to what they’re going through and who can tell them that they’re not alone, they will have a message of hope as they turn the pages.
I was chatting with a friend this week who is recovering from cancer and she turned to Dr. Google when she received her initial diagnosis. She couldn’t find any information on the specific treatment she would be receiving apart from medical guidance. Under instruction (from me!) she took a notebook with her to all of the appointments, when she went into the hospital for her operations and when she was undergoing chemotherapy.
She has just finished the first draft of her book and has received the first round of feedback from people she met along the way, both patients and medical staff. The resounding feedback is ‘I wish I’d had this when I was first diagnosed.’ The medical staff has promised to recommend it to their patients. We can safely say that it’s a niche market that she is writing for but for every single reader, it will be ‘raw, real, authentic and surprisingly funny’ as one fellow survivor has written.
If you can change the world for just one person, your book is a success.
“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” (Anne Lamott)
How many times in your life have you felt alone? How many times have you thought, ‘I wish someone had told me that?’ How many times have you wondered if it’s just you; if you’re the only one who feels this way?
The majority of people I work with are writing their books because they don’t want other people, who find themselves in a similar situation, to feel alone.
Without exception, the writers I’m currently working with are sharing their stories because, in the midst of their experiences, they felt alone.
Because we’re talking about personal experiences, there are inevitably some ‘characters’ involved. The questions around how to include them, discuss them, leave them out or eradicate them from the literary face of the earth come up frequently.
My advice is to turn your story into fiction and kill off their character! One writer who has joined my six-month programme is doing this and her book is comedy gold.
Seriously though, isn’t this exactly why your story needs to be written? You know how it feels to be lost and alone.
If you have felt silenced. If you have felt that your story can’t be told. If you have felt lost in your story and not in control of it. You are able to speak with authority to the people who need you.
It’s time to own your story.
Shout it from the rooftops that you have been there, experienced that and got the t-shirt. You’ve come out the other side and you know that you have words of wisdom that will be valuable to someone else.
Let’s talk and get that book out into the world, you know that there are people waiting for it.
I’ve been hiding away, working with incredible writers who are having fun with post-it notes and putting their words in order while also ghost writing and taking on at least three different personas each week. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
This morning, I stepped into my usual persona to answer the front door as I had a surprise delivery. Signing for the box, I wasn’t sure what I had ordered. I haven’t done any Christmas shopping yet, the box didn’t come from Amazon and the only delivery I was expecting was the food shopping, which definitely wasn’t going to appear in a little box, delivered by UPS.
Thanks to this little box, I’m ending 2017 on a high. My fabulous publisher sent six pre-publication author copies of the final book in my teen fiction trilogy. It’s not going to be released until September 2018, so I wasn’t expecting these copies and as the book had been signed off about four months ago, I hadn’t given it a second thought.
The magic of holding your book in your hands doesn’t go away. The excitement of seeing your name on the cover is indescribable, time after time.
These books are inspired by my own story. I created a teenage character to share the story in a way that resonates with my young-adult audience. Dani Moore has become my friend. I know her and I’ve grown with her. She has taken the story in directions I had never considered in the initial planning stages. She has taught me an enormous amount about trusting your characters as they speak through the words that appear on the page. She has given me permission to let go and to be surprised by the direction the story takes. The message hasn’t been lost, it has been strengthened by Dani doing things her way. I admire her. I wish I had been more like her as a teenager!
The first book, Reggie & Me was published in 2014 and reached the final of The People’s Book Prize in 2015. It was the catalyst for my social enterprise and it has opened so many doors for me to share my message with the world. The excitement and pride that I feel today as the third and final book in the trilogy is in my hands is equal to, if not greater than, the feeling I had in 2014. Dani is changing lives and I’m honoured to have been the conduit through which she came life.
For this moment, I showed up day after day to plan the book, write the book, rewrite the book and learn something new with each and every chapter. I’d love to tell you it was a joyous and cathartic process, but it wasn’t. It took discipline and self-motivation. It took a desire to share a message and a single minded, some might say stubborn, belief that it was worth the investment in time, money and energy. It meant battling demons about visibility, about people judging me, about the fear that I’d get painful reviews and that little voice that won’t shut up, whispering, ‘who do you think you are?’
Who do I think I am? Well, I’m someone who showed up, did the work and wrote the words. I’m someone who decided that the risk was worth taking. I’m someone who’s still scared when I see a new review has been submitted. I’m someone who wanted to share a message of hope, based on my story.
Was it worth it?
If you’re ready to make 2018 your year. If you want to make 2018 the year that you hold your book in your hands, join me! The New Year will see the six-month programme re-opening and a new online programme to support you in writing your book. Exciting times!
A book proposal is often thought of as the key to landing an awesome publisher.
While that’s certainly one reason to spend time working on it, another reason is that it gives you the perfect framework to test your idea. Going through the process prompts you to consider the different aspects of you book; the audience, the competition, the potential formats and as you ponder, you’ll determine whether you really do have the motivation and desire to write this book.
As you’re using your own experience and your story, this process formalises the ideas. It takes the emotion out of it and allows you to consider the book’s potential in a new way.
You might find that in exploring your ideas in this way, the book changes, becomes more than one book or has a revised focus. That’s ok. There are numerous ways you can share your story and your message with the world and this is just one way to kick-start your thinking.
Once you have refined your ideas, there’s nothing to stop you writing and then pitching your ideas to agents and publishers.
Having a framework to follow might be useful, right? Well, look no further. It’s just a click away.
Sitting down to write is not an easy thing to do. There’s usually quite a serious amount of procrastination that needs to take place before the first word appears. At least one cup of tea needs to go cold, another one made and then an internal debate about whether or not a biscuit is deserved at this early stage. The answer to that is always, ‘yes’.
I experienced this myself today. I had a deadline for a book I’m working on and not only did I need to write the words, I wanted to write the words. The more they matter, the harder it becomes.
Writing a personal story is never easy. Writing anything that’s based on personal experience brings with it a wave of emotions and that rush of chemicals through the body is not conducive to sitting still and typing.
This is my solution.
First of all, you’ll have your plan for the part of your book you’re focusing on for the day – or the chunk of time within the day that you have set aside. At least, if you’re working with me you’ll have your plan!
Then, you need to shut your computer down.
This stage is important!
I bet that as soon as you shut your computer down, you have the urge to write. It’s not time to power up yet. Patience, my friend.
You need a blank piece of paper and a pen. If you would like a selection of pens, that’s fine too!
Now, you’re going to experience a Gratitude Flood.
Write down every single thing that you are grateful for. Everything. Absolutely Everything.
This is part of your story and it’s getting you in the zone. Whether any of it features in the book doesn’t matter one bit, you’re making your story count by this exercise alone.
Keep going, you’re not done yet.
How do you feel now? Pretty damn good, I imagine?
You have burst the writing bubble, you are pumped full of happy-juice and you are in your flow. Now, you can power up, go through your notes and start the next stage of your book.
If the planning stage isn’t going the way you’d imagined, there’s still time to sign up for my six-month programme. You can reply to this email if you’d like to book in a time to talk about whether it’s the right programme for you.