By Amanda DeWeese (No really, it actually is.)
Even though it can seem daunting, ghostwriting shouldn’t scare you. Whether it’s writing a piece for a client, company executive or colleague, a few easy steps can make the process smooth and fright-free.
Ghostwriting is a long-standing practice of writing a published piece under someone else’s name. This could be an autobiography and other literary work, article, blog, speech and even musical composition. In preparation for writing this blog, I did a little research on its origination and was impressed to find ghostwriting dates back nearly 5,000 years. Ghostwriters have been mysteriously present throughout history, successfully helping poets, playwriters, politicians, celebrities and other prominent individuals communicate their work to the masses.
It makes sense if you think about it – there are countless humans out there who have something thoughtful and important to say. But that doesn’t mean those humans know how to effectively put those thoughts on paper. That’s when the ghostwriter swoops in.
Here are a few tips for successful ghostwriting:
1. Interview the person you’re ghostwriting for.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how often it can be overlooked. Even if the person sends you a detailed outline of topics and a host of sources, nothing can prepare you better than speaking to them directly. It’s imperative to hear them in their own voice — hear their words, observe their attributes and understand their natural inclinations. A pro tip: Ask for permission to record the interview. This can be a lifesaver after-the-fact, allowing you to engage in the interview in real time without feverishly jotting down notes.
2. Craft key messages first and get feedback from the person before writing.
Pull out the top themes from the interview and organize them into key message points, with supporting details. Remember, this has nothing to do with your opinion, so don’t discredit a point if it is important to them. And don’t add in new topics that weren’t discussed unless the subject asked for your guidance. Before moving into the writing phase, ensure the person gives the green light on the messages. This will save you from wasted time in the end.
3. Stick to the key messages and build out from there.
Ghostwriters are called upon to take the subject’s ideas and bring them to life. Do supporting research, get creative and pull in interesting anecdotes and data that can elevate and illustrate the key points.
4. Be open to feedback and know it will be easier next time.
Don’t be crushed if the subject isn’t pleased with the first draft. It takes time to understand someone’s inner narrative. Work together to craft the piece so both you and the subject are proud of the final product. Just like with anything, practice makes perfect and learning their voice should bring fewer edits over time.
Do you have something to say? Speak up.
If you have something important to say and don’t know how to say it, let Chernoff Newman help you. We have some spook-tacular writers on our team who are ready to ghostwrite for you. Interested in our additional capabilities? We’d love to talk about how we can help you with your marketing and communications needs.