“So, what sort of ghosts do you write about?”
Strangely enough, that’s a fairly common question in social situations when I tell people that I’m a ghost writer by profession.
Of course my explanation has to be carefully crafted. No matter how enthusiastic I may feel about my current, future or past projects, I must defend my clients’ confidentiality at all costs. And that is the nature of my business – an enduring secret. I am but a ghost, who floats into people’s lives, shares their hopes and dreams, listens to their innermost thoughts, and writes in their voices.
As a ghost, I’m not always on the book launch guest list, although, from time to time, it does happen. And what a joy, and an honour, to be quietly in the background as a client begins their speech, “I wrote this book because …” Well, by the time you’ve gone through a ghost writing process, in a sense, you have written it.
I heard recently that over 70% of non-fiction is now ghost written. That didn’t surprise me. It takes an enormous amount of time, discipline, and sheer bloody-minded dedication to write a book. At best, juggling between work, family and other commitments, an author must pledge at least a year and every moment of their spare or stolen time to reach the first draft stage.
“Any best-sellers?” is the next inevitable question.
“Hmm, quite a few,” I reply. “Though no-one will ever know.”
“Doesn’t it piss you off? You know, writing something that sells millions and not getting any money for it?”
The fact is I’ve been paid for my work. And very well. Any galloping success of a book I’ve ghost written is pure, unadulterated pleasure for me. And something else: those long, arduous book tours, TV and radio gigs (some are very early in the morning), interviews with print journalists, photo shoots, worrisome scanning of best-seller lists – ah, not for me. When a client appears on TV, I’m sitting in my favourite café with a long black and a few notes on a new book, and, yes, feeling just a teensy bit proud.