Just one thing separates a ghostwriter from other writers. Without this trait, you simply cannot ghostwrite.
A lot of writers get frustrated when their big dream doesn’t come true. Not every writer finds their beat writing fiction. Not every writer becomes a bestseller. Not every writer makes enough as an author to pay the bills.
So they turn to ghostwriting.
You might be a writer thinking about ghostwriting, and wondering if you could make a living from it.
The short answer is “yes”, but only if you have one specific trait. I will reveal this trait by telling a story. Why a story? As a writer, I am sure you know that some things just can’t be explained academically. Some things can be explained only through a story.
A ghostwriting story 8,000 years in the making
This is the story of a client. The story itself began 8,000 years ago. That’s 2,500 years before Mr. and Mrs. Wheel launched their famous invention, by the way. In a fertile valley amid the Caucasus Mountains, Mr. and Mrs. Wine released their equally famous invention. Yes, the first wines were born.
People came and people went. Wars raged across the land. People had a lot of fun making babies. There were famines. There were times of plenty. And still wine was being cultivated, new varieties of grapes were created and/or discovered and a few people remained sober enough to tell the story.
I’ll skip over all that boring stuff about wars, famines and making babies. Fast-forward to 2018. A new winery is opening up in this amazing Cradle of Wine. Old varieties of grapes are being restored. Ancient methods of making the wine are being revived. And the vintner wants me to help them tell their 8,000-year-old story.
As you can tell, it’s an exciting story.
It’s not just the history, either. If you are a wine lover, you will know exactly what I mean when I say that wine is not just about the taste. It’s not just about the liquid. It’s about so much more. It’s about the history. It’s about a sense of culture. It’s an experience unto itself.
I must say, I got totally into this project. After the first draft, I was describing to my daughter what I had written. I told her about the history. I told her about the methods being used. I told her about the valley. At one point, I think she tried to calm me down. I was obviously getting very excited just talking about what I had written.
Obviously, the vintner had chosen the ideal writer in me – someone who can get excited about wine. In fact, here is what she said after I first responded to her query:
“Thank you for responding so fast. I got feeling from your letter that you are not only professional in what you do, but also in wine business too. Because of this, it was not very difficult for me to make my choice.”
Well, I’ve never been in the wine business. But I had recently written an email mini-poster to invite people to a wine-tasting event.
So I was hired totally on the strength of my love for wine, right?
Confession time. I almost never drink any alcohol. Maybe once or twice a year. And I don’t know all that much about wine (although I do know a little).
But she was right in choosing me. I was the ideal writer. In fact, when she saw my first draft, here is what she had to say:
“I absolutely love what you wrote… The style is brilliant!”
A ghostwriter gets excited about someone else’s message
I might not have known a lot about wines, but I did know a fair bit about wine lovers. I could get into their head and understand what they needed to read to get excited about these new wines. More important, I could get into my client’s head and get excited about sharing her story.
And that’s what it takes to be a ghostwriter. You have to be able to get excited about someone else’s story. Any writer can get excited about their own story. Every writer does. But not every writer can get excited about somebody else’s story.
Interestingly, I reviewed my client’s closest competitors. One of them told a great story that I would have been proud to have written. Another’s website was just embarrassing – a mundane text that was not written by an English-speaker.
A third was “well written”, but did not inspire. The research was solid. There were mentions of the science of wine-making. A few emotional words were included to try to capture the reader. But no wine-lover would feel inspired and get excited by reading what was written on that website.
The reader won’t get excited if the writer isn’t excited.
You are always excited about your own stories. Can you get excited about a stranger’s story – excited enough to suck the reader out of their own mind and draw them right into the story? If so, you might make a great ghostwriter.