Just Because It Doesn’t Have Your Name On It Doesn’t Mean It Doesn’t Count

Ghostwriting has its pros and cons.

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Do you write – among other reasons, hopefully – because you love seeing your name associated with something published?

You’re not alone: everyone gets a little thrill out of that. Which is why many writers flat-out refuse to even think about the possibility of ghostwriting.

Ghostwriting – writing something for someone else, which they then get to post as their own work (your name is not released) – has its pros and cons. It’s part of both fiction and article writing. in some ways, it’s good. In others, it’s not that great at all.

There are points in which ghostwriting is extremely freeing – fun, almost. There are also points in which you start to feel a little under-appreciated … invisible … betrayed …

Okay, so that’s a little dramatic. But seeing all your hard work published – without your name anywhere on it – sometimes doesn’t feel that great. At all.

Why do writers do this kind of work? The reasons are probably different for everyone. I’ll be completely honest with you: I started ghostwriting for websites because it was the first freelance job I got. I didn’t know any better. Once I found out I wasn’t getting “credit” if you want to call it that, I sort of just shrugged and kept writing. I’m in it for the experience. I’m in it for building relationships with clients. I’m in it to learn and, I guess, experiment a little with different styles. And yes – some months, I’m in it because of the paycheck (how many years have I been in school now? Eh …).

Does it get a little discouraging? Of course. I’ve written pieces I’ve been really proud of but haven’t seen or heard about them since I submitted the invoices. Technically, you’re doing a lot of work that someone else gets to take all the credit for. Is it worth it?

Absolutely. And not just because of the money, though especially in the beginning when you’re just trying to keep your head above water, that helps. Ghostwriting is basically lending your skills out to someone who either can’t do what you can or doesn’t have the time. Sometimes, if you want to look at it this way, you’re helping someone achieve a dream. Probably.

I personally will never ask someone else to write something that I will put my name on. Therefore, I can’t say I completely understand why over half of the job postings I come across on freelancing websites ask for ghostwriters (and even those that don’t often assume it’s an unspoken agreement, I’ve learned the hard way). But I’m not going to judge anyone regardless. A writer has valuable skills, and the fact that someone wants to pay you at all to do what you’re good at is a pretty worthwhile deal.

Sometimes, you just have to do the work knowing it won’t be published under your name. You have to let go of how that makes you feel personally – because it’s nothing personal. Business is business. If you’re not comfortable with that, don’t become a freelancer. There are plenty of other ways to get your work out there and make sure your name gets on it, and there’s not a single thing wrong with any of them (as long as you write your own stuff, etc., etc.). You know what you want out of a career in writing – at least, I hope you do. If not, you’ll figure it out along the way. But there is one thing you should keep in mind if you’re okay with taking on the role of a ghostwriter: Your work still matters.

It’s still important.

It still counts.

Just because no one is ever going to know you wrote it doesn’t mean you can’t still be proud of it.

It doesn’t mean you can’t still consider it an accomplishment.

Eventually, I’ll get to a point where I won’t be writing articles for other people without my credentials on them, because that’s important in the health writing space. And I may not be the best fiction writer, but I will admit, having an author page on Amazon is a pretty cool thing. If I can power through ghostwriting until I reach that point, so can you. And who knows? You may even decide you like ghostwriting better than letting everyone know who’s really behind the work.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Image courtesy of pixabay.com.

What My First Time Ghostwriting Fiction Taught Me

If you are considering ghostwriting as a possible side gig, you might be wondering what it’s like to write something you don’t technically own.

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Last week I finished up the first of several ghostwriting assignments I am working on for a client. I had never ghostwritten fiction before (it’s a very different experience ghostwriting articles), so I wanted to share a few key things I learned. If you are considering ghostwriting as a possible side gig, you might be wondering what it’s like to write something you don’t technically own. Here’s what I know from my personal experience.

It isn’t at all what I expected

I honestly thought I would hate ghostwriting. I decided I wanted to try it for a few reasons, one of them being that it was a new opportunity I wasn’t sure I would come across again. I thought working hard on a project that wouldn’t be published with my name on it would bother me. Deep down, that was something that worried me – not the fact that I wouldn’t get ‘credit,’ but the fact that I would end up being upset about it at the end.

As much as I loved writing the story (and will enjoy writing the rest I’m working on for the same client), I signed over the rights before I even started writing. So from the beginning, I knew I was going to have to hand over my baby when it was ready. So when it came time to do that, it didn’t feel like I was giving away my hard work. It actually felt surprisingly satisfying, knowing I had created something pretty awesome for someone else to use.

I need to stop being so afraid to experiment

I did a lot of things while writing this story that I don’t normally do. I tried to be a lot funnier than usual because I’m extremely self-conscious about my sense of humor in my own writing. It was also a children’s book, so I got to play with simple language and practice using A LOT more dialogue than I usually do (I tend to go a little heavy on internal dialogue – I’m working on balancing it out a little more in general).

I really feel like I allowed myself to be more creative, especially because it wasn’t a real-world setting. For some reason, knowing my name wouldn’t be attached to the finished product made that easier for me. I wasn’t worried that what I was writing would be judged as much. I worry about that a lot, even writing these posts. Knowing that no one I knew would be reading it made me feel free, almost, and that allowed me to be a little bit more daring. I really need to do that more in my own writing, I’ve realized. I need to stop caring so much about what you all think and just go for it.

Outlining is a helpful starting point

I don’t usually outline my fiction before I start writing it or as I work. Ever. But for these assignments, I have to: it’s just part of the process, so the client can put together pictures as I’m working on the text. I thought that would drive me absolutely crazy, having to outline everything chapter by chapter before I started writing the actual story. But it didn’t. I actually really liked it.

What I liked was that I could follow that outline, add in small details here or there or even change a few things without feeling like the entire story was falling apart. This was a very short work of fiction (12K), so I can’t say it would work the same for a full-length novel. But it really helped when I was having an ‘I don’t feel like doing this’ day and still needed to do some work. I just had to pick a scene and start writing it, knowing where it was going to end up and lead into already.

I still have a lot to learn

Sometimes even I still slip into the false mindset that I am an ‘expert,’ and being an ‘expert’ means I must know all there is to know about writing. Far, far from it. I know a decent amount – I would not have put together this blog if I didn’t think I knew enough to help you get your creative endeavors in order. But I barely consider myself a professional. I’m approaching my sixth month of freelancing, which is great, but not all that impressive looking at the big picture.

I ended up teaching myself a lot about structure and foreshadowing while writing this story. I also got to exercise a lot of the storytelling techniques I’ve suggested to you all over the past year or so. I have written a lot of fiction, but definitely don’t let myself ‘practice’ enough. I have a long way to go before I’ll be ready to publish traditionally under my own name (something I want to try, since by the end of the year I’ll have self-published plenty on Amazon), and honestly, that’s fine with me. I enjoy learning and pushing myself to improve. I’m in no rush to move into a new stage. I’ll get there.

I’m glad I’m getting the chance to do this. Do I want to be a full-time ghostwriter? No. I really do like sharing my work with other people so they can enjoy it, too, and I can’t really do that when I don’t legally have the right to (technically). Plus, signing over the rights did kind of feel weird, even though I didn’t really mind. I would much rather own the rights to my fiction. But that’s my personal preference.

This is all from my personal perspective, so if you’ve ghostwritten before and have anything to add, feel free to give your input in the comments section. You can ask questions too!

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.

Image courtesy of magoosh.com.