Wanted: Anonymous Storyteller

Submitted by: Jessica Trippe

Many writers desire to see their name in print, but for those willing to stand just outside the spotlight lies the world of ghostwriting. Today the practice can be found everywhere from memoirs to blog posts. During the March meeting, Pensters member and professional ghostwriter Rosanne Gulisano offered her advice to those interested in breaking into the field.

Hiring someone to write their story can be a very personal thing for a client. Before even offering a price quote, Gulisano recommends setting up a face to face meeting to discuss the project and determine the fit. Bring samples of past writing to share and let the client talk about their vision. What are the expectations and the timeframe? Who is the target market? Is the book meant to be a record for family and friends or geared toward a wider audience?

If both the client and the writer are comfortable with the match, it is time to get the specifics in writing. Topics such as fee and payment schedule should be clearly outlined in the contract. While authors may be accustomed to describing a book based on word count, Gulisano noted that the average ghostwriting client would find a page count much easier to conceptualize.

With all the details ironed out, it’s time to get down to work. The ghostwriter’s task is to take a variety of information and piece it together in way that makes sense, forming a cohesive narrative while channeling the voice and speech patterns of the client. Gulisano recommends scheduling weekly meetings and providing the client with an outline of the topics to be discussed. This will help them to focus and keep the session on task.

For further reading, Gulisano recommends Good-bye Byline; Hello Big Bucks by Kelly James-Enger and The Complete Guide to Ghostwriting by Teena Lyons.