My Writers Circle

Writing => The Writers Circle => Topic started by: WordBird on October 18, 2013, 11:36:54 AM

Title: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: WordBird on October 18, 2013, 11:36:54 AM
Hi Gang,

A friend of mine has approached me with a question for which I do not have an answer. I'm hoping you all can help me. (Mods: If I've posted this in the wrong place, please move appropriately  :))

He has an idea for a book that I could be classified as science fiction, conspiracy fiction or even historical fiction (are those two even genres?). He hasn't considered it to have characters with narrative or dialogue like a novel, though. More like history or a documentary. As he described it to me, we both thought of the TV show The X-Files. So scripting it certainly isn't out of the question. It sounds to me like he has enough ideas to fill three or four books. And it does sound like a winner as far as sales are concerned, at least to me.

The problem is that he is not a writer, by no stretch. He just has the ideas. He approached me because he knows that I do write and thought I could help him. Unfortunately, the genre is completely out of my realm, I am currently working on my own book, AND here's the real question I have no idea how ghostwriting for fiction works. Is it even possible? I just always assumed that it was primarily used for nonfiction.

So, is ghostwriting a potential opportunity for him? And if so, how would he go about finding someone?

Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: 510bhan on October 18, 2013, 11:48:35 AM
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Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: Lin on October 19, 2013, 04:58:48 AM
First let me say that ghostwriting is so very very expensive. Don't quote me,  but you are probably looking at something in excess of £10K. It is far easier to help the person or collaborate on the novel yourself.  A friend of mine has done something amazing.  She wrote a novel 'Beneath an Irish Sky' collaborating this with a friend whom she met on the internet and lives in Canada.  Over the months that followed, their book is now in print and it's marvellous and climbing the ladder of success.  Go read it to get an idea of what they achieved over the internet.  It's now with a mainstream publisher and I loved it!

So your friend can either have a go at writing or collaborate, both are fine and both of you get profits when you collaborate. If you do this I strongly suggest you make it clear to both of you how you want to go about this and who gets what in the way of profits. 

Lin x

Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: WordBird on October 19, 2013, 10:56:42 AM

Thank you so much for commenting. This is the type of discussion I was hoping to get.

The information about the cost is certainly helpful. I do not believe that he has the funds to afford such an expensive venture. Collaborating with my friend is possible, I suppose, although it would take me out of my comfort zone. The types of things I could do quite well are research the historical events he is thinking about addressing and reading published documentaries or conspiracy books that could be used as models. If I had a model to go by then it might be easier to stretch my writing skills into a different genre??

Although I will definitely read your suggested example. Ultimately the decision will be his as to which path he wants to take and whether he is truly in this for the long haul.

Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: Lin on October 19, 2013, 11:05:51 AM
If he writes it you could edit and comment and change things as a team.  Send the ms back and forth until you got it right.  It might take a year to write it but in the end it is written and documented.

That's what I would do.  I have lots of letters from a WW 2 prison camp in Italy.  I hope to possibly collaborate with someone who might just help me more with the research when I write the book about it in the future. Put this to your friend and I think the best thing to do is to tell your friend to start writing one chapter at a time - in the meantime you write your own book and then spend a week looking at his mss.  Send it back to him for updates and so on until you are both happy the story works.  In the end you look at the mss as a whole and then agree if this is what you both wanted from the book. Keep going until you are both happy.

Just a suggestion but that's what I would do.


Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: WordBird on October 19, 2013, 11:18:41 AM
I think the best thing to do is to tell your friend to start writing one chapter at a time

Yep, I tried that route. He asked me how to get started with this idea. I told him to open up a blank Word document and start typing. He is really no more reluctant that any other scared, timid new writer. Perhaps if I offer the collaboration help, he'll be more feel safer. I'll tell him the cost associated with the ghostwriter. So if he really wants to see this idea to fruition, like the rest of us, he'll have to take action.
Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: 510bhan on October 19, 2013, 11:22:53 AM
Yep-- as Lin said it is very expensive, which is why I added the links so you might have an idea of price. ;)
Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: CPlumb on October 19, 2013, 04:48:59 PM
Without a clear contract - I'd back off. This sounds much like the "I have the ideas, you do the work, I accuse you of cheating & take all the amazing profits" scenario that "professional" writers soooo want to avoid.

Ideas are cheap. I got a million of them. (Somedays. Except about that Bradley story....)
Putting in the hard work to make that story marketable, readable & profitable - now that's the real heavy lifting part. Don't do that without a guarantee you're going to get paid.
IMHO. IANAL. YMMV. Post No Bills  :D
Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: 510bhan on October 19, 2013, 04:56:00 PM
Ghostwriters do make a fortune, they just don't get the fame/recognition.

How do you think certain celebrities and sports personalities manage to produce books? :o ::)
Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: Gyppo on October 19, 2013, 05:17:22 PM
I'm sure that to most of us creative types the thought of hiring a ghost to write our books is like hiring someone else to make love to our partner ;-).

To the ghost it no doubt feels different.  He/She is more like a builder.  You pay for the bricks, he builds the house to suit your requirements.  Then he walks off to bank the cash and you live in the house.  He doesn't give a damn if you call it yours.

I ghosted a couple of articles for a friend.  It was a bit like acting.  I temporarily took on his personality so the writing reflected his style rather than mine.  He said it felt a bit creepy to see his thoughts emerging from a different body.  (I think he was a bit freaked to realise how well i understood him.)  To me it was just like writing 'in character'. 

I wouldn't want to do it for a living though. 

Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: Neghe on October 19, 2013, 08:34:48 PM

I wouldn't take that one even for 20,000 dollars. 
Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: Lin on October 20, 2013, 03:42:53 AM
Yes I do feel a collaboration works well. The other thing is to just encourage him to write his own.

 I remember one of our MWC members who has been to our house here in Holland - he rarely pops in on the boards these days, but I won't mention names.  The first time he came he had LOADS of wonderful material and when I asked him how many words he had on paper, he replied 'None'. He said he had done all his research and just didn't have the confidence to actually write it.  He has written something now, but I had to give him a kick to get him started. I read his material and found it very interesting.

Sometimes people don't realise they can write a book. I think anyone can do it with some guidance.  There's a difference between confidence and procrastination! If you really want to write a book - you will. The only reason I didn't write a book earlier in my life is that I had two kids to entertain and my full time self employed job as well as housework and walking the dog! Being a driving instructor you have to work all hours. When the time is right, you do it!  I was fifty at the time.

Another thing is, that if I was to have the time over again, I would have studied writing a bit more, and continued with my creative writing classes at Leeds University or even undertaken an OU course before attempting to write a novel.  However, I just got in there and did it and learned on the hoof, you might say.

It's all down to motivation and personal circumstances.

So good luck WordBird, I hope your friend has lots of material here to get him motivated.  He can do it! But does he want to that is the question. ???

Lin  :D


Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: WordBird on October 20, 2013, 12:32:00 PM
Well, he seems to be still on the idea. So it hasn't been a 'fly-by-night' at least. When I told him the cost of a ghostwriter, he paid a bit more attention to me about getting some of the ideas down on paper for himself. He has all the classical fears and questions of a writer: How do I keep someone from stealing my ideas? and How can I get all these ideas out of my head before I lose them? How do you get this published? How do I start? Where do I start? yada yada yada

Hell, he'd probably have a good hundred pages behind him by now. But I'm not going to criticize. I've been in his shoes before. I'm going to keep working on him. He does have a great idea and I've offered to help him once he gets some things down on paper. I told him I'm not going to type it all up and do all the work, but that I will be happy to edit and help him along the way. I'll see where that takes him first.

All he'd have to do is read the Twilight series to realize that there are plenty of people who come up with ideas that sell and were determined enough to put their butt in a chair.

Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: Alice, a Country Gal on October 20, 2013, 01:52:20 PM
WB, suggest he write the Ideas down, not worrying about how to connect them together in book form, just get them down in black and white.

That would be a start. Ideas in the head are just that, ideas.

Who knows, once he starts writing the ideas out where he can actually see them, it may give him the confidence to try going farther.

It would be a start anyway.
Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: WordBird on October 20, 2013, 02:29:55 PM
Hi Alice,

Thanks for posting. That is exactly what I just did. I called him and told him how encouraging you all were..........I told him that if he got the ideas down on paper, I would edit it and make it sound right. He still is scared. "You didn't tell them my idea did you?" "What if a publisher says they won't publish it then it hits the streets by someone else?" "I'm just not a writer."

Anywho, I then reminded him of the Twilight lady. And I gave him a starting point based on where I think the story would start given the ideas he's presented to me so far.

It is kind of exciting to see a new writer budding.
Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: Lin on October 21, 2013, 04:13:34 AM
Good luck!  ;D

Lin x
Title: Re: Ghostwriting Question
Post by: DJIsaac on October 24, 2013, 01:02:34 PM
Not sure if this will exactly apply here, but I've done some co-operative writing projects, and I felt that by doing that I've created some of my best works. Its nice to get your idea's down on paper, then pass it on to the other. When they read it, the story evolves in their head and different plots, or idea's pop into their head. In doing this the second writer / first reader makes additions to the text highlighted in their chosen color, and then makes suggestions on changes of text in bold. Then returns it to the first writer / second reader.

At this point the first writer can decided the same on the others text. Which suggestions of changes he wants to go with, and in turn with the refreshing idea's of the first reader can expand even more on what the second reader changed. As your mind will start to have more ideas on how it will evolve. So you will do the same as the other writer, make bold suggestions, and colored additions and return, Before you know it you have this huge adventure, that reads well, and was written with half the work.

I really enjoy this writing method, as I have said, I've (and others) have created some of my best works this way, as it allowed me to see things I normally would have not, and made for much more interesting works. The common phrase most spoken in these co-ops, is 'Thats an awesome idea, why didn't I think of that'.