As ghostwriting becomes more popular and ghostwriters share more about their experiences in the profession — including on our blog — the main advantages and disadvantages have become clear:
Guaranteed pay disconnected from the book’s performance
Highly lucrative pay
Learn & earn — get paid to work on your craft
No credit for work
If the book becomes a bestseller, you won’t earn more than the original fee
Competitive field, with few opportunities available
However, there are several lesser-known benefits that make a career in ghostwriting extremely attractive to many writers. These are the smaller things that may not be immediately obvious to an outsider or a beginner researching ghostwriting as a career choice. After speaking with some of our ghostwriters, here are their top 6:
Avoid Promotional Events & Marketing
As the publishing market becomes more competitive, authors are expected to do more and more promotional work, pulling them away from what they love most: writing. Long travel schedules for interviews, book signings and conferences are becoming more common and tagged onto publishing deals. Ghostwriting allows a writer to focus on the craft of writing and storytelling, nothing else.
If a book becomes successful, there is often pressure to quickly produce a sequel, and then another, and another, in the same genre, style and tone. It’s easy to become typecast and tied to a particular subject matter, when creatively you’d prefer something more varied. Ghostwriting means you can step outside your brand and flex your creative muscles.
No qualifications or credentials needed
Although many universities are now offering courses in ghostwriting, you don’t need any particular credentials or advanced degrees to become a ghostwriter. If you can write well (and have the samples to prove it), listen to what your client wants and hit your deadlines, then ghostwriting can be an extremely lucrative career. No more “5 years of experience required” for an entry level position. If you can write, you have a job.
Ghostwriters work closely with their clients to ensure the project meets their specifications, and this often allows insight into someone well-established in their field. You could pick up craft tips, marketing techniques or opportunities for further high-paying work. Many ghostwriters are simultaneously working on their own personal projects and their client relationship can connect them with industry professionals they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.
Become a deadline machine
Ghostwriting jobs often come with strict deadlines and fast turnaround times. There is no faster cure for writer’s block than an upcoming deadline that cannot be missed. Knowing you can crank out quality words when needed, even when the muse isn’t home, instils a level of confidence that can be hard to beat. It’s also a highly sought after skill that ghostwriting clients and publishers want and writers that can consistently hit their deadlines can command higher rates and advances.
Ghostwriting assignments can vary widely in their subject matter, especially with fiction. One project may have you fighting in the trenches during WW2, another having a candlelit dinner with a stranger in Tuscany, and another defending an innocent client in a Texas courtroom. If you love researching and learning, then ghostwriting can be an excellent opportunity — often paid for by the client. You may also find yourself falling in love with a particular genre due to a ghostwriting project, which can then be used as a springboard for your own personal writing projects.
Hopefully, that has given you some insight into what you can expect as a ghostwriter, outside of the more well-known pros & cons. But ultimately the only way to know if it’s a good fit for you is to try it and see. Relay Publishing has a number of ghostwriting projects currently available — take a look at our careers page and apply if you’re interested.