If you love writing fiction, and want to do it full-time, why not consider ghostwriting? Writing novels, short stories, and novellas not only improves your craft, but it gives you an income too.
Not sure how it works?
How does fiction ghostwriting work?
It works much the same as other freelancing. A client approaches you with a project brief, that is, a description of what they want. Once you accept the project and its deadline, you negotiate a fee. With the deposit paid, you start writing.
At the project’s conclusion, you’re paid in full, and you relinquish all rights in the work, because it’s a “work done for hire”. The copyright now belongs to your client.
1. Clients are looking for authors: your books are your portfolio
Have you published fiction? Excellent. Your published books act as your ghostwriter’s portfolio. Potential clients can check out your books on Amazon, to decide whether you’re a good fit for their projects.
If you haven’t published any fiction yet, clients will nevertheless hire you. However, they might want a little evidence that you can write at book length—much as a traditional publisher would.
So, be prepared to create a “partial”, that is, an overview of your novel, with a couple of chapters and an outline of the rest.
Are you a pantser? Many authors dislike outlines intensely. My suggestion: write and publish a novella. This will act as your portfolio.
It’s common to take extremely low-paid gigs on outsourcing sites, if you don’t have anything to show. My suggestion: write something and self-publish it. The sales may surprise you, and you’ve now got something you can show prospective clients.
2. Write anywhere: choose your own hours
If you’re a carer, or have a new baby, you want to work from home. A ghostwriting career allows you to do that. As long as the writing gets done, you can write in the morning, afternoon, or at midnight.
Alternatively, perhaps you’re exploring your home country, or the world. You can combine your nomad’s lifestyle with writing.
Unlike self-publishing, where book sales can be slow, with ghostwriting, you’re paid up-front, and on completion. Chances are that as a beginning author, you’ll make more money that you would if you publish your fiction yourself.
3. More ideas than you could ever write? Sell concepts and outlines
Who are your ghostwriting clients?
According to this article in Forbes:
“Fiction clients are generally most interested in simply getting their story told,” Dr. Banash says. “Most often they’ve dreamed of writing a book or being published for years, but don’t have the necessary skills to get them across the finish line…”
- Small publishing houses. Some of these businesses prefer to own books outright, rather than paying a royalty; and
- Marketers, who know there’s money to be paid in publishing books in hot genres.
Both these kinds of clients buy complete novels, but they also buy ideas—concepts and outlines—as well as editing services.
4. Once you’re known, clients will find you
Clients pass your name on. So one client leads to another. Most ghostwriters are booked solid, with waiting lists.
5. Start your ghostwriting business as a side hustle
Looking for a side hustle you can combine with your day job? As a ghostwriter, you don’t need to travel, and you can write before you leave for work, or when you come home.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.