Every so often, I look up the books that I’ve ghostwritten. It’s a very strange experience, but sometimes it’s just really nice to see that I do, in fact, have something published out there. Maybe it’s only half mine, or maybe it’s completely mine, and maybe legally it isn’t mine at all, but at least I can look at it and think, “I accomplished something.” Even if no one will ever know it.
It really can be an awesome experience – but it’s also sort of sad. It makes me feel bad, because I can’t share with anyone what I’ve done. There is no excitement with my friends over book covers and release dates or anything else for that matter. All of which is only a small, small portion of writing. But sometimes, it’s an important one.
Yes, it’s awesome that I have finished something.
Yes, it is awesome to see it floating out there in the world.
Yes, it is awesome that I can honestly say that I’ve done, more or less, what I’ve set out to do.
But it’s also heartbreaking to know that I can’t claim it as mine. And it makes me want to ask, “Why do you guys need a GHOSTWRITER? Why can’t you just hire me and I can be your author?”
Wouldn’t that make more sense? Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Ah, but there are logistic issues with that. I’m a ghostwriter – not a writer-writer – because I need the money up front. You (meaning: client) are hiring a ghostwriter so that you do not have to pay royalties and can set up a fast write and release scheme that will (hopefully) earn you more money and your author more followers.
So are we saying that in the end my life’s dream is all tied up in money?
Yeah, pretty much.
It’s a sad, pathetic thing, but if you’re hoping to be an author and make money, you’re probably dreaming. You can be an editor and make money. You can be a publisher and make money. But you can’t be an *author* and make money.
If you’re looking to do that, you’re probably going to do it my way. Ghostwriting. Yes, there are those out there who have made it big. Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, etc. etc. But they are the exceptions, not the rule. And do you know how many times Rowling was turned down before she was picked up by a publisher? Some ridiculous number. I think it was around 10 or so times. And do you know what she was doing while they were turning her down? Probably starving, or close to it. Because you make money for working and if writing is your work, then you’re probably not making a lot of money.
It’s the sad truth, folks, but few and far between are wealthy – or even breaking even – as authors.
My recommendation? Make sure that your significant other can and is willing to support you as you endeavor to reach your dreams of writing. Because you’re probably not going to make it without a little help.
Sorry guys. I really didn’t mean to be so bleak about all of this, but I can’t help feeling sometimes that I’m just being drug through the mud so that someone else looks spotless holding my trophy. (Exaggerated, but feelings so often are.)
All of this started because I went and looked at my most recent project to see if it had been published yet. (It has this month.) I saw how pretty the cover was and I felt utterly depressed to see the name of the author on it.
I’ll have to remember for next time that I cannot be trusted to look up my own work.
Ultimately, I’d like to say that I understand this is part of my job. I know what I’m getting into and I signed up for it, but sometimes it’s hard to remember why I do this. (Then I’m broke like I am this month and I TOTALLY remember again. It’s nice to have money.)
What do you guys think? Do you think ghostwriting is maybe a little unethical – or totally valid and okay so long as the client pays the ghostwriter accordingly? Do you have any personal experience with ghostwriting or these feelings? Am I just being moody (probably; sometimes my hormones just like to have a little party)?
Let me know in the comments below!