Life of the shadow scribe:
From the introduction of "Ghostwriting" by Andrew
"The cult of celebrity has spawned a lucrative niche market
for the writer with no ego and limitless discretion. Someone who is content to see the autobiography of a pop star, the footballer,
or the actor sell by the cartload, knowing that they wrote every word, but who is not going to gnash their teeth in resentment
or dish the unpublished dirt drunkenly revealed as the tape recorder, forgotten, spun on."
"It is a fascinating way to live if you are someone who enjoys
trying out new and different lives, and who is comfortable being a spectator for much of the time."
"Celebrities and their entourages have ben a source of work
for ghosts ever since the printing presses started to roll. The Empress Josephine is on record as having hired ghostwriters
to tell her story, just as those who have access to royal, sporting, and show business kiss-and-tell secrets do today.
With the rise of literacy has come a rise in the number of
people able to write for themselves, but at the same time there has been an increase in the numbers that want to tell their
stories in print and a corresponding increase in the requirements for professionally produced manuscripts. If publishers are
inundated with manuscripts begging to be bought, they’re going to choose the ones that are presented to the most professional
While there may be more people educated enough to write letters
and read newspapers than there were in Josephine’s day, it’s still a long jump from there to writing entire books,
or even entire articles. Although they are less often called upon to write personal letters, the ghostwriters of the world
have never been as busy as they are today."
The joy of ‘proliferating:’ The speed with which you can gather the information for a ghosted book means that you can produce far more publishable
material in the course of a year than if you were researching each book in order to write them under your own name. For anyone
who has a fertile curiosity and who loves the actual process of writing, this provides the greatest joy of ghosting."
Some snippets of advice from Andrew Crofts'
book "Ghostwriting," A@C Black, 2007.
"Of all the advantages that ghosting offers, one
of the greatest must be the opportunity that you get to meet people of interest.
A ghost who has only a lay knowledge of the
subject will be able to keep asking the same questions as the lay reader, and will therefore open up the potential readership
of the book to a much wider audience.
Half of the job of ghostwriting is about finding
out about other people.
It is essential for the ghost to make the subject
feel comfortable in his or her company. If you are painfully shy or find it hard to get others into a relaxed state, then
ghostwriting might not be for you.
The ghost will also be under pressure from the
publishers to dig up something controversial that they can use to sell serial rights and to generate publicity at the time
I have often been told by subjects that by the
end of the research process, they feel as if they have been in therapy.
Quite often, particularly if you are helping them
write a memoir or autobiography, the author will dissolve into tears when telling the story. Your job under these circumstances
is to pass the tissues. Keep quiet and keep recording.
Authors are often busy people and hard to get hold
of. Sometimes they are temperamental. The publishers consequently rely on the ghosts to make the process of publication as
smooth as possible.
What if they lie to you? "Lie" is probably too
strong a word. Most of us tend to embroider our memories to suit the picture of ourselves that we would like the world to
It is perfectly possible to write a book for someone,
having done nothing but listen to their words, but extra research often helps to provide more material and descriptive ideas.
A ghost must expect no glory. If you are going
to be the least bit upset not to see your name credited on the cover or not be invited to the launch party, then you are going
to have a miserable time ghosting altogether.
The book is not a platform for ghosts to air their
own views on anything at all. Authors need ghosts who will not challenge them, but will simply listen to what they have to
say and understand why they did what they did.
There may be occasions on which the subject will
tell the ghost something that contradicts something else they have said, or something that the ghost already knows about them.
If that happens it is important to mention it immediately.
"While ghosting allows you to spend the majority of your time alone with your
computer screen, you also need to be able to spend a concentrated amount of time with your subjects, during which you're going
to need to be in charge of the conversation most ot the time."
"People who have opinions they wish to convey to the world will find ghostwriting
hard, since it is largely conveying other people's views-- whether you agree with them or not."
"Journalists can ask the same questions but will often be rebuffed. The ghostwriter,
on the other hand, is there specifically to understand the truth about the subject and the story. It is a position with privileges
more akin to the family lawyer than the investigative journalist."
Warning: Because I am
so enthusiastic about the ghostwriting profession, I may have been giving the impression that it is an easy way to make a
living. If so, then I should qualify my words...."