The Fine Art of Freelance


I wanted to take a moment to talk about my job which is a little unusual and often takes a little explaining when I first meet someone. (It’s hard not to get exasperated talking about the same thing and dealing with the same questions, but people honestly don’t know a lot of the time, so I work hard to keep that in mind.) I work from home as a freelance ghostwriter. Kind of crazy, I know, but you’d be surprised how many of us are out there!

Let’s break this down.

Freelancer is just a free agent. You don’t work for a company, but don’t exactly work for yourself. Like an independent contractor, a company or an individual hires you on a job by job basis, paying you either hourly or by the project (a bid negotiated prior to accepting to do the job). This means that you can flit around without being held down by a 9 to 5 or worrying about things like your boss firing you for asking for time off or taking too many sick days. However, this also means that you have to find your own work. You put in bids against other freelancers for the best job and usually it’s a game of the Best Price Wins. Meaning you can get stuck doing a lot of work for a relatively low price. It can also mean that, with experience, you can make a lot more than minimum wage once people trust your knowledge base.

But what about that other part? Ghostwriter. I know that’s the one that got your attention. Some have heard of this, some have not, and there are those that have heard the term and are a little confused about what it actually means.

Well, basically, it’s complicated, but not really.

A ghostwriter is someone who writes – I know, shocker – but what about that ghost part? Well, that’s where it gets a little weird. An author is the owner of a book. Generally, this means they penned the book you hold in your hands, the one with their name on it, but not always. Sometimes, being an author means that you only own the rights to a book – the copyright – but maybe you didn’t have anything to do with the actual creation of the book! How? You hired a ghostwriter.

A ghostwriter is someone that writes the novel itself. In the terms of a regular writer, the writer is both creator and author, but for a ghostwriter you are creator only. All of the rights to the novel – including the right to tell anyone that you wrote it in the first place – belongs to the person who hired you to write it.

That’s me, the writer, not the author.

Right now, I work mostly through an online company which connects clients with freelancers. The clients post a job including their price range and a quick description of the work. If I meet the qualifications, I post a a bid on the job with my experience, credentials, and usually a couple of different samples of my work, along with my price to do the job. If they like it, they’ll message me, we talk, and then I get hired.

Now, some of you have probably been thinking it over and decided: Hey, wait a second! How can *you* be the writer while some other person gets the credit? Isn’t that plagiarism or stealing or something?

Well, no, it’s actually not. Why? Because I get paid. Up front for my work versus the time it would take the author to get paid via the proceeds of the book. Most clients will require what’s called an NDA. Nondisclosure Agreement. Meaning I can’t talk about the specifics of what I’ve written, because the rights to claim that work don’t belong to me, but the client who paid me. On average, I write 115,000 words a month. (Just for reference, 50,000 words is considered a full length novel and anything below that is a novella.)

Kind of crazy, right?

And before you ask, let me just tell you: They aren’t all “famous actor turned author” instances or non-fiction either. Ghostwriters write in *all* genres from autobiographies (just think about that for a minute; *auto*biography) to science fiction to that best seller you’ve been following religiously for the last five years. Kid you not, there are ghostwriters in all of them. Sure, *I* probably haven’t written a famous best seller, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t read something of mine. If you’ve read a bunch of those romance novels published on Amazon for super cheap, you’ve probably read one of mine. It’s not my preferred genre, but that’s part of why it works.

Think about it, if you love to write YA Dystopia (which I do) and you get hired to do so, how can you give your client your best work? You know that you are now your own competition (assuming you ever want to publish on your own) and you’ve just given away one of your dystopian ideas for someone else. It’s a conflict of interest. So I’m grateful that the current hot topic for self-publishers who are hiring ghostwriters happens to be romance. I have no interest in writing adult romance myself, so there are no worries as far as using my skills to give the client my best work.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me “You’re a writer? Oh, how cool!” And it is. It can also be an awful job sometimes. I get editors butting in and telling me to fix my work – even though the client’s only given me enough time (and enough money) for a first draft. I have clients whose expectations are through the roof – but they’re pay is ground floor. And I have to hustle. All the time. No one’s going to say, “Oh, just come in and I’ll have a list of cleaning/phone answering/customer service/computer work/etc. for you.” If I want to get paid, I have to find my own job and then make myself do it. I’m my own boss and that is both good and bad. And don’t even get my started on the taxes…

But if you’re honestly interested in getting into something like this (quick cash, honing your skills, and looks good on a resume), then you might check out the site I use. (formerly Elance). The fees for the site just got bumped up, but they come as a percentage out of your earnings, but it’s a great way to get connected to the right kind of people.

Mostly, I just wanted to talk about my job and why I’m such a party-pooper about writers and self-publishing and everything of the like. I know that I’m putting stuff out there for other authors to take credit. I know I’m not getting paid very much, but I’m doing all the leg work. And I know that if *I* can manage to keep my first draft manuscripts mostly error free, then other self-publishers can do it, too.

If you guys have questions – or want some work done (I do editing, proofreading, outlining, and am just getting into cover art creation as well) – feel free to comment below! I do *fabulous* work.


E.C. Orr


5 thoughts on “The Fine Art of Freelance

      1. That’s right! You. Are. Published. That’s a fact. Ghost writers are writers that get to be published but don’t get the recognition.
        Do you ever buy your own books? I totally would!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, I’ve bought just one of them because it was the first one. After that I didn’t see much point. Most of them I don’t like all that much anyway, but every once in a while I write one that I really like.

        Liked by 1 person

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