There are several types of ghostwriters, which are each suited to different types of projects and clients. Before embarking on your ghostwriting career, it’s important to know the ins and outs of the industry to be successful. Here are the ten commandments of a ghostwriter that will keep you on the right path to success as a professional ghostwriter.
I. Thou shall not undersell your services just to find work
A common mistake that new ghostwriters make is underselling their services to find work. This is a huge mistake! Not only will you end up working for less than you're worth, but it also sets a precedent for future clients. If you want to be respected and get paid what you're worth, then don't undersell your services! EVER!
II. Thou shall not work without a signed contract in place
This is the most important rule for any ghostwriter. A contract protects both the writer and the client. It outlines what is expected of each party and provides a legal agreement in case things go wrong. Without a contract, a ghostwriter has no protection and can be taken advantage of. And vice versa. Remember, the ghostwriting contract can be amended at any time during the project should conditions change.
III. Thou shall not take on more work than your time allows
A ghostwriter's number one priority is the client. When a ghostwriter agrees to take on a project, they are making a commitment to the client that they will see the project through to completion. This means that a ghostwriter should never take on more work than they can reasonably handle in the time frame that they have agreed to. Taking on too much work will only lead to frustration and burnout for both the ghostwriter and the client.
IV. Thou shall not write without doing the proper research
A ghostwriter should never start writing without doing the proper research first. This means understanding the client's industry, target audience, and what the competition is doing. A good ghostwriter will also research the client's company and specific projects to get a better understanding of what needs to be done. Without this foundation, it will be difficult to produce quality work that meets the client's expectations.
V. Thou shall not skip meetings with the client
One of the most important aspects of being a ghostwriter is communication. If you and the client don't communicate, the project will suffer. That's why it's important to have regular meetings, even if it's just to touch base. Skipping meetings will only make the client think you're not invested in the project, which will reflect in the finished product.
VI. Thou shall not take shortcuts and plagiarize another author's work
When you are first starting out as a ghostwriter, it can be tempting to take shortcuts. After all, you are being paid to write someone else's story and not your own. However, plagiarism is a serious offense that can get you into legal trouble. Not to mention, it will damage your reputation as a ghostwriter. If you are caught plagiarizing, you will likely never be hired again. So, always make sure to write original content!
VII. Thou shall not write without having a proper outline created
A ghostwriter should never start writing without having at least a basic outline from their client. Outlines also help to reduce unnecessary editing time by making sure everything is written fits in well with the overall story. This is essential to ensure that the project stays on track and that both the ghostwriter and client are happy with the final product.
VIII. Thou shall not extend a deadline unless absolutely necessary
A ghostwriter should always meet their deadlines, or else the client will be left disappointed. If for some reason the deadline must be extended, the ghostwriter must communicate with the client as soon as possible. This way, the client can plan accordingly and there are no surprises. Extending a deadline is sometimes unavoidable, but a good ghostwriter will do everything in their power to stick to the original timeline. After all, time management is key in any line of work.
IX. Thou shall not complete a project without editing more than once
Editing is key to any project, especially when it comes to ghostwriting. A single edit can make all the difference in the world. A good rule of thumb is to edit your work at least twice before showing it to your client. This will help ensure that the final product is as good as it can be.
X. Thou shall not pass completed work without pay
As a ghostwriter, you should never pass completed work to a client without getting paid first. There is no time that the ghostwriter should give away his or her words without being compensated. Getting cheated out of pay can be heartbreaking, even with a contract in place. Make sure you are paid before passing the final product to the client.