Perception of Celebrity Ghostwriters
Celebrity ghostwriters have been accused of being writing whores who are willing to pimp themselves out to any old narcissistic, talentless reality star who comes their way. Allowing one person to put his or her name on the hard work of another is viewed by some as cheating the readers. Some equate celebrity ghostwriting with the kind of shameful and dishonest moneymaking scheme that’s reserved for the most undignified bottom feeders. That’s a bit harsh. Come on, let’s play nice.
This is the kind of glass-half-empty thinking that keeps some brilliant, but introverted, writers from considering a writing career that pays well and allows them to write their hearts out in total stealth mode. And, when I say being a celebrity ghostwriter pays well, I mean it pays WELL…with a capital ‘Cha-ching!’
Another positive about this gig is that you’re not “working for the man.” You’re a freelancer; you’re an entrepreneur working for yourself, on your own schedule. I personally work from around 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and it’s all kinds of nice. You can operate your celebrity ghostwriting headquarters from any beach in the world if you want. Being a celebrity ghostwriter is a chance to have your cake and eat it, too. And, you know we all love cake.
Of course, there are inexperienced, shady folks out there trying to pawn themselves off as seasoned celebrity ghostwriters. To separate yourself from them, you can confidently offer to write a 10-page sample at an agreed-upon flat fee to showcase your high caliber of writing talent. Any prospect who balks at the price of a writing sample may not be the right client for you. Note: If you’re looking for a truly confidential ghostwriter, no one will offer a ‘who’s who’ list of clients, so a writing sample is an ideal way for you to see if he or she is a good fit for your project.
Reality of Celebrity Ghostwriters
Some of us just love to write. It’s that simple, and we loathe being in the spotlight. We are free to choose which celebrities we work with, and we work under terms that we define.
The typical celebrity-ghostwriting client is not a buffoon. Many have wicked storytelling talent, great insight, and surprisingly good writing skills, too. If you’re busy with TV and radio interviews, premieres, concert tours, movie productions, and grueling travel schedules, would you honestly have time to write a masterpiece? You probably wouldn’t—not without neglecting something else on your plate. So, the smart thing to do is to find a quality, confidential ghostwriter who gets you and understands the message you want to deliver to your fans.
As far as cheating the readers, I’m sorry, but most readers don’t give a flying front door who actually penned all of the words. As long as the book reads well, tells them things they didn’t already know, is accurate, and has the celebrity’s participation, your average reader is thrilled. A ghostwriter’s work with celebrities is a collaborative effort. The celebrity and the ghostwriter both bring ideas to the table and both are involved in the creative process.
As a ghostwriter, you can take comfort in knowing you are free to say outlandish things in someone else’s name on a plethora of salacious topics—topics sure to make your mama slink to the back row in church on Sunday. It’s a freeing experience. It’s a ‘get out of jail free card’ for speaking your mind…the real naughty mind that nobody else knows about. As long as my clients respect my work, as long as I’m treated as a valuable and important member of their writing team, I’m good. As long as their sincere appreciation is reflected in my fat check, I’m fine as wine with being nameless.
And, I have to tell you: there is nothing like the little thrill you get when you hand your client a copy of the book (that you wrote for them) to sign at their book signing. That split second of “Oh, no! This is awkward,” is priceless. For glorious moments like this, I don’t mind being referred to as the black sheep of the writing profession every day of the week. Baa, baa…