A quick overview of the keys to being a successful ghostwriter

Even though I have published more than 2,500 articles and blog posts over the years, as well as authored three books under my own name, I have derived the greatest level of personal satisfaction from the writing I have done for others.

So when I was recently asked what are the most important attributes of a successful ghostwriter, the enjoyment in helping people to tell their story immediately came to mind.

In this context being a ghostwriter makes you the ultimate communicator in that you become the contextual bridge between the inspirational visions and ideas of an individual and the audience they are trying to reach.  The keys to building the bridge rests in your ability to reflect the client’s personality and beliefs in your writing style, while simultaneously connecting with the reader on a personal and relevant level.

To do this effectively you as the ghostwriter need to be connected with the reader.  After all writing isn’t just about having the commas in the proper place.  You have to be able to tell an interesting story that engages and moves the reader by leveraging a diverse and expanding range of personal interests, experiences and knowledge. In essence you have to become the ultimate encyclopedia of everyday life beyond the subject matter about which you are writing.

In the business world, this approach is called thinking outside of the box.  For a ghostwriter, it means continually expanding your contextual reference points so that you can through your writing engage the largest possible audiences for different clients.

For example, I have recently written books on personal branding and complex contracting.  Despite the fact that the subject matter was vastly different, the reviews for both had a common theme in that each told an interesting and compelling story that made it virtually impossible for the reader to put the book down.  What was even more satisfying was when both clients told me that they had just read the book after it had been formatted for printing and thoroughly enjoyed it.

So how do you get to this point of literary Nirvana?

Well let’s examine more closely the building of your personal encyclopedia.

To start, what are your personal interests?  This is critical because those things which inspire you must align with the prospective client’s area or areas of focus.  Otherwise while the text you write may be well written, it will likely be dry and uninspired.

How about your personal experiences?  Even though your writing must reflect the client’s own insights and experiences – especially in the case of a biography – the ability to relate to the client and translate their experiences in a manner that will resonate with the reader is dependent on your ability to empathize through your own life experiences.  In essence you have to be able to walk a mile in the shoes of both the client and ultimately the reader to effectively connect with them in any meaningful way.  Once again, books and articles are not just words on a page, but represent the heart of the writer.

Finally, you have to be plugged into what is happening in the world around you.  This is the knowledge part of the equation.  It is also where you have the greatest artistic license on multiple levels involving both past, present and future events.

For example, I was asked to write a series of blog posts on a particular topic.  Based on my personal experiences, interests and existing knowledge pool to that point, I structured the content around an event that had already happened.  About halfway through the first article, a news story broke that offered a more current reference point for the series.  As a result I incorporated the subject matter from the breaking news story into the post.  When it was published the next day, the readership numbers were significantly higher than they would have been had I cited the older material.  This is a crucial point in that a good ghostwriter will always be proactive in terms of maximizing their client’s readership or reach.  After all, what good is a great story that no one reads or shares?

In the end, a successful ghostwriter is one who in blissful obscurity enables their client to take center stage and standout in a crowded world, being content in the knowledge that they were able to play a part in making a difference one word at a time.

JWH Ghostwriting3 image

Questions? Contact me at jhansen@pisocialmedia1.com . . .


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