Remember the Five Rules of Ghostwriting
When you come on board the Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP), you will regularly hear one of Claudia Suzanne’s key selling points: “Our students, on average, start with fees of $35,000 for their first book.”
That sure gets a potential ghostwriter’s heart pounding! Making the big bucks is based on remembering the Five Rules of Ghostwriting:
1. Make the client happy—You’ll learn that when ghostwriters get an author’s manuscript, they find tons of issues—like characters with no depth or nonfiction that doesn’t address key BISAC niche markets. Claudia repeatedly emphasizes that no matter how unsaleable a book seems, it’s your job to find the gold that’s there in any first draft. And it’s up to you, once you’re a Certified Ghostwriter, to make that book stand out in a way that entices— even excites—potential markets. Make your client happy by listening to their vision, explaining how to accomplish it, and working closely with them through the chapter-by-chapter method.
2. Get paid—Throughout class, Claudia emphasizes that her Certified Ghostwriters get the right fee because they are book industry insiders who conduct their business professionally: They have a signed NDA with the client and a signed contract that transparently states the total project cost—paid through regular monthly payments until final manuscript delivery—along with the writing process, duties of each party, and legal minutia.
3. “It’s not my book”—In GPDP you will learn to practically become the author and to adopt their voice whenever you make necessary changes.
But here’s a predictable scenario: You start your own business as a Certified Ghostwriter, get your author’s materials, and confidently deliver your revised Chapter One to them. When you get it back, the author hasn’t agreed to a single change. “I don’t know why you changed this,” their email may say. “Anyone will be amazed to see how important __ is.”
Having a close relationship with your author is key here. Try a few times to explain why you made the changes you did. But if your author is unmovable or angry or depressed, simply agree and include the information. As Claudia explains, “You can try to change their minds once. You can try again. And you can even try one more time. Three strikes does not mean you—the ghostwriter—are out. It means you must provide your author with some finished product. If it’s not what you’d try to sell, so be it. You’ll learn to just keep repeating, ‘It’s not my book. It’s not my book. IT’S. NOT. MY. BOOK!’” (Consider it the professional ghostwriter’s mantra.)
4. Never quote before reading—Certified Ghostwriter Beth Brand tells the story that before she took GPDP, she took a job from a friend who was on the verge of publishing her book and had asked for Beth’s insights. She charged that last-minute author only $3,000 for reading the manuscript, explaining why the book wouldn’t work, and making the many changes it needed. Even then, Beth sensed it was not the right fee.
Many authors will push for “just a ballpark fee” quote before the ghost has seen the author’s material. But simply saying, “I guess between $10 and $150,000” shows an author you’re seriously not going to quote a price before you know what material you’ll work with. For Beth, it was live and learn. When she discovered Rule #4, she already had real-world experience in the importance of never quoting before you read—in GPDP, she learned she had charged one-tenth of what she should have.
5. Always analyze for the positive—It’s very easy to guide an author with “helpful” analyses like, “Your protagonist won’t generate reader empathy if he stays such a crass yokel” or “These are great blogs, but they really don’t meld together to offer an overall theme.”
Such critiques are much too general and brusque. They won’t help gain your author’s trust or make you a true companion for your author to help them turn straw into gold (a primary goal in GPDP training). Claudia teaches to empathize with your author and analyze for the positive, framing manuscript’s faults as improvement opportunities (addressing no more than three at a time) and assuring the author you’ll work with them through the changes.
Using GPDP’s Five Rules of Ghostwriting creates happy clients and happy bank accounts!
To become a Certified Ghostwriter and put these rules to work, check out the 2021 schedule for the 6-week prerequisite “Intro to Ghostwriting” course. Last-minute March enrollment is still open, and the next course opens in May before the full Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP) training begins in August. We look forward to showing you the book industry from the inside out and helping you learn a new online, lucrative, creative career!