This is the #1 Reason an Expert Will Hire a Ghostwriter

This is the #1 Reason an Expert Will Hire a Ghostwriter

Here’s the one truth every successful ghostwriter understands: We are the pain management pros of the writing world.

Thought I was going to say something more profound? Consider this example.

“Lydia” is a therapist with a thriving practice. Her clients tell her, “No one has ever been able to help me the way you have.” They say, “I thought therapy was a scam until I came to you.” They say, “You ought to write a book.”

Lydia nods and thinks, I’d love to write a book. She sees the way the Dr. Phil’s of the world have turned basic ideas into multi-million dollar platforms. Even better, her ideas are unique. She has great client success stories to tell. She should write a book. Or a blog. Or a weekly column.

In my experience, though, most Lydias never start those writing projects. Or if they do, they don’t see them all the way through to completion. Why? Because of the painful process of writing, editing, submitting and publishing.

That’s where ghostwriters come in.

The great news for ghostwriters is that the Lydias of the world turn the adage, “No pain, no gain!” on its head.

Lydia already sees the benefit of a well-written book, blog or article. She knows that great content will act like fertilizer on her growing brand. We don’t have to sell her on product.

What she wants is all gain without the pain. She wants assurances that we’re going to help her reach her goal faster, more easily, and with a greater guarantee of success.

In my experience, there are three sources of pain for my ghostwriting clients: time, skill, and industry know-how.

In fact, one of the first questions I ask prospective customers is this: What’s preventing you from writing this project on your own? With that information in-hand, I’m already several steps down the road to winning their business.

Here’s a glimpse of what I mean.

Pain point #1: Time (Or, “I’ve had this idea for years.”)

More than any other issue, clients like Lydia lack the time needed to write. They have big jobs and growing families. They’re too busy living the life they want to write about to sit down and get typing.

When I know that the client’s main obstacle is her lack of time, I can build a customized proposal that stands out because of its value, rather than just its price. I can say …

  • If you hire me, you will regain X number of hours per day because you’ll no longer have to spend it writing.
  • I can reduce your content time to market by [(current development speed)-(my development speed)].
  • Hiring me now reduces the risk that competing messages or ideas will enter the market before yours do.

Pain point #2: Skill (Or, “If I were capable of writing this on my own, I would have done it by now.”)

Clients who fall into this category aren’t necessarily unskilled writers, and many of mine vary widely in ability.

This type of customer will, however, be the first to admit that he hates to write, or doesn’t know how to organize his thoughts, or has trouble maintaining a discipline.

As one customer put it, “If I were capable of writing this on my own, I would have done it by now.”

Customizing a proposal with a “skills” management bent looks something like this:

  • Hire me to do the stuff you don’t like — the writing and organizing and editing — while you remain focused on what you love: sharing your expertise.
  • It’s my job to make you stand out by developing a written voice that’s as dynamic as your brand.

Pain point #3: Industry know-how (Or, “I don’t even know where to start.”)

Many clients come to me and admit they don’t know the first thing about how to get something published. To which I respond, “Have you written anything yet?”

Most often, the answer is no.

Clients with big ideas tend to be big idea thinkers — they know what the goal looks like, but they’re not overly interested in reading the maps to get there. That’s our job. And we freelancers are especially good at easing this type of pain because we navigate “the system” every day. We have to know it to profit from it.

To ease a client’s “process” worries requires little more than confirming your skills as a navigator.

  • You have great ideas, and I am expert at distilling complex concepts into a single, compelling message.
  • You have a worthwhile story to tell, but it needs to be packaged correctly to reach your [audience].
  • I like to develop long-term relationships with each client so that I can see you through from pitch to published.

Time, skill, and know-how ⏤ none of us has a perfect balance of all three across the spectrum of our professional lives. That’s why I’ll never fire my bookkeeper; I’m terrible with receipts, and she thrills at organizing them.

But I do like writing. I like bringing ideas to life on the page. And I like to be the one offering a moment of relief to my clients, a respite from the pain they experience when doing what I love.

Anyone who’s ever rifled the medicine cabinet for a bottle of Excedrin knows the value in that.

Filed Under: Craft, Freelancing
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7 comments

  • Colin says:

    Understand the perspective. Although celebrities do claim to have written a book, oft times when it is ghost written. This gives an impression that they sat in front of the TV for a few evenings and produced a fifty chapter novel or a detailed biography of their life between studio film takes! A ghost writer can be like the skilled boat builder, who assists the do it yourself amateur or even builds the boat from scratch! Certainly, instructional books could be improved if the scientist or mathematician employed a ghost writer instead of writing it himself/herself. Complicated knowledge needs lay written English, unless only for academic read. Ghost writing abilities will always be in demand and understand the reasons why, but there is a tendency for celebrities and others to claim authorship, suggesting they are skilled writers and they have not had assistance.

    • As a ghostwriter myself, I have come to terms with the “authorship” issue this way:

      An “author” and a “writer” are not the same thing, even though the two may sometimes be the same person. The author is the one without whom the project would never have existed, and the one whose place could not have been taken by anyone else without making it a different project. That’s not necessarily true of the writer. The person who gave the project its impetus is entitled to be named on the cover as the “author” even if someone else was hired to put the words on the page.

      As a ghostwriter, I have found it to be simultaneously affirming and humbling to be entrusted with finding words to tell another’s story. It is a responsibility that inspires awe in my soul in a way that is unlike the experience (also satisfying, but different) of writing in my own name.

      Trish O’Connor
      Epiclesis Consulting LLC
      epiclesisconsulting.com

  • Thank you for writing this! I’ve been waiting for an article on ghostwriting. I currently write a very successful blog, but I need to expand the expertise I share into other platforms. I don’t have the time to write MORE than I already write. So the question I have is how to start working with a team of ghostwriters? I don’t have a single book project, but need articles and blog posts written under my leadership, insight and expertise. It can be one person or four…as long as it gets done.

    What advice would you have for me in this regard? One writer? Several? How do you find good ghostwriters? (And by good, I mean “good enough.” This isn’t the next great novel or business book.)

    Any insight would be appreciated!

    • Shelley,
      Thanks for your great questions. I’ll address each separately.

      As for one versus a team of ghostwriters, the answer is that it depends on your needs (surprise!). I would say this, however: Start by hiring one ghostwriter for a few initial assignments and don’t be afraid to keep trying ghostwriters until you find one with whom you work especially well. The key to successfully partnering with a ghostwriter–no matter the project (big book or short blog)–is that they be able to seamlessly match your tone and style. They represent you, after all. Over time, a great ghostwriter will need less and less direction from you, as your cadence and preferences start to become second nature. You may find that one ghostwriter is all you need across your multiple platforms. But if you do need to branch out and form a team, the experience you gain upfront can only save you headaches down the line as you hire more.

      As for where to find a great ghostwriter, the best route is always referrals. Reach out to your network. Chances are good that colleagues will be able to send several names your way. There are several online marketplaces, as well. As a freelancer myself, I find Upwork to be among the most reputable sites for both client and writer. Always check out a ghostwriter’s portfolio and don’t be afraid to ask to speak with client references.

      Feel free to get in touch if you have further questions!

  • I have never wondered why someone would hire a ghostwriter. I have wondered why on earth would any writer surrender their God-given talents out for any price when they could be adding an additional byline credit to their resume.

    This wasn’t always my thought on this. Earlier in my career I worked as an essay writer and among many other things, I penned an award winning short story for a student whose name I will never know.

    This ate at me until I took the steps necessary to improve my self-esteem and respect the talents nature/God gifted me upon conception. I now have fiction, non-fiction articles, humor, short-stories, newspaper column, editorial credits, etc. all under my byline.

    In my heart, this was nature’s expectation of the seeds I was presented.

    Diane Marie Perrine

    • Thank You, Diane, for sharing your courage 🙂 I thought that I am just greedy – for not feeling agree with the issue. However, maybe not everyone has to be and really can be the Ghostwriter….. :-))))….. I also worked a bit as a ‘writer’, and can imagine your feelings…. From the other side, one can choose a scientist or another person he truly respects, and help to share the idea. Unfortunately, this must not be the working business strategy… Or not?….. Anyway, sometimes journalists spread such ideas – but they sign their names there…. I think I agree that while working as a ghostwriter, one has to be acknowledged as a ‘writer’ near the ‘author’. I agree that staying in the shadow is unfair treatment.

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