After over a week, I’m still laughing my butt off over an exchange about ghost writing. The job ad we submitted query to specifically said “ghostwriter needed,” and so naturally, it’s a given that person understands how things work. Or maybe I just always assume the best in others. Anyways, we threw emails back and forth about the “online cash success” of that guy from Arkansas. We settled on how he wanted the project was about, how much it costs and stuff. Finally, we agreed on what time to meet on Skype to finalize things. Then it got really strange from there.
“I will have to look into the legality of this. Maybe ask my lawyer or something,” said the guy.
“Huh?” I wasn’t sure where it was going. “What do you mean?”
“Well, you’ll be signing an agreement that you won’t reveal you actually wrote this instead of me, right?” he clarified. Sane. Practical .I replied, “Yes, of course. That’s how things go.”
“I will have to take the legal expense from your first week’s service costs,” he went on. Insane!
“Why is that?” I really wasn’t getting it.
“Well, to make sure that we get things documented. That you even spent $80 to make sure there’s no disclosure about it,” he explained further. At this point, I just had to bite back my tongue. I’m hardly an angel.
Politely, I took time to elaborate on how things work between clients and ghost writers. To his credit, the guy listened, obviously not as familiar with what he got into. A few times, I quoted the “standard agreement” piece. He responded with regular breathing, a few “uh-huhs” and “ohs.” When I stressed on non-disclosure points, the guy said, “I dunno.I just want to be assured.”
“Sir, you’re not thinking I’d be claiming your life story as mine, are you?” I gave out a nervous laugh. “But if you’re not comfortable with this, it’s OK. There are other ghost writers out there who will take your arrangement.”
He had a few more reasons why he’s apprehensive about hiring a ghost writer. I just listened. After that, I repeated that he actually as other options as there are many OSPs out there. Before the conversation even got there, I already knew he’s not a client I’d like to have. But still, I went on to give him pointers in finding a ghost writer, even sent him links where he’s probably interviewing more ghostwriters.
Looking back, a strange realization hit me. Many people out there who need ghost writers aren’t sure what they’re getting into. Good if they’re open to fully understanding how it works. But for those who think that ghost writers are 90% unreliable, it’s so difficult to even start explaining.
First off, you only hire when you’re challenged as a wordsmith. There are so many experts and successful folks out there who are bent on getting published, but acknowledge their limitations when it comes to writing. More so, there are gurus, consultants and authorities in their fields and industry, but just don’t have the time to do the writing. These are just a few of the people who would be grateful to have an experienced, professional ghost writer. A good collaboration, particularly with the extra time and editing skills of the ghost writer, would sure result to a good material.
Next, a huge part of the client must accept that someone else is doing their work. It’s like allowing someone into your life or life’s works, letting them meddle and fix, even create new avenues you have not ventured into before. This means you must be cautious and wise. Trust your ghost writer BUT only after you’ve established something solid and worthy.
At the same time, treat them like you would someone at work – communicate well, encourage innovation and creativity and pay them on time. Yes, giving a bonus would be great, I say!
To find a really good ghost writer, be serious with the hiring process. Reveal the essentials of the project right away, such as the material they’d be working on, rates and deadlines. Set your standards high as this will ward off the “joy riders” in the OSP industry. Require also their experience and a few samples of their writing with topics you provide. Then use both during the interview. Ask questions and go deeper into their claimed experience. Ask about writing styles and techniques. From there, you’d be able to know who among the short-listed applicants meet your expectations.
Now, let’s talk about the service costs. It’s really important to understand that that in this arrangement, the result is largely dependent on what you pay. There are so many ghost writers and OSP like VAs, content writers and other freelancers who charge so low your jaws would drop. But be prepared as well to get what you pay for. So know ahead how much your work should be worth and find a ghost writer who charges around that amount. If you’re bent on cheap rates, you’re likely to get mediocre results. But if you put value into the best output, then be ready to shell out the costs for the best ghost writer there is.
Finally, let’s talk about non-disclosure and exclusive rights. Professional ghost writers understand they’re giving up the rights of their work to you, hence, cannot publish or claim it under their name or any other names. They also automatically accept that they cannot reveal that they work as your ghost writer. To be safe, make sure you get an agreement stating all these. That should keep you at peace.
Having been in this line of service for so long, it’s already a given that some of my hard work won’t be published as mine. Clients and would-be clients should know this. In fact, this is how my career thrived for years. Writing for someone else who takes the credit, and I’m fine with that. Most of ghost writers are fine with that, believe me. It’s nothing personal. It’s just work, it’s the service we provide.
But just the same, make sure you understand how things work. Ghost writers aren’t scary, untrustworthy beings. They are humans who provide writing and editing services. Ghost writers aren’t as popular but there are many who works magic with words and make the clientele super-duper happy. So if you need one, the only exorcism you’d need would be finding the best one as you would an employee.
As for me, I’m still laughing. Not about being a ghost but with that guy from Arkansas. He made it sound like he’d need to be in full-battle gear with a troop of priests – and a lawyer – to deal with me. I don’t blame him. While ignorance is bliss for some, at times, it does get to me. And all I can ever do is laugh it off.