A Weird Phenomenon I call “Ghostwriter’s Limbo”

The level of independence I experience as a writer is one of the interesting things about my job as a ghostwriter. After all, my job is to make writing a book easy for my clients, which means they don’t have to do much. The initial interview period is where clients are deeply involved in telling me their stories or other book content, verbally. We meet almost daily via Zoom for a month, so they get everything out during that time. After that, clients can also be involved as I write the book synopsis, but usually they don’t and simply trust my expertise.

Typically,  my clients don’t know a lot about ​​how to structure a book,

so when I explain why I organized the information the way I did, they see the logic in it and simply tell me to proceed. So, I write the book. Three months goes by where, in a lot of cases, I submit work, but my clients and I barely talk. It’s honestly kind of weird. I love it, actually, because this is what writers do. ​​We hole up someplace and write and don’t want to be disturbed. 

Meanwhile, my clients are doing … whatever they want to do.

The weird aspect of it is that we often grow very close during our interviews and get to know each other quite well. Some clients call our interviews “my book writing therapy session​.” Then, as quickly as it began… it’s over. We miss each other. Sometimes I wonder what they’re up to. Business? Vacation? Contemplating their next book? Dealing with an emergency?

When I finally hand in the finished manuscript, it’s a glorious feeling. Finalizing a manuscript is intense, and I often work ten to twelve-hour days to finish it—not because I’m behind, but in order to make sure a manuscript flows and doesn’t contain repetitions, you have to really read the whole thing in one go. I scour all 60,000 words for errors, and I have to do it all at once, like that, so the last month of manuscript writing is very intense. My clients know nothing about this. After all, not having to know about the details of this work is part of what they’re paying me for.

So, there I am after the final month of writing, and I’ve done my absolute best to represent clients and tell their stories with great feeling and suspense and many well-turned phrases. I feel like I’ve drawn readers to laugh and cry on the same page. I’m proud of myself is what I’m trying to say. So, I submit the full manuscript and what I get back is typically … crickets. Nothing. That’s normal, because the client takes some time to read it. It’s a whole entire book, after all. So at this point,

I’m sort of drumming my fingers on my desk, thinking—gee, could you say something?

It’s a weird experience, but it’s natural. My clients are not writers. That’s why they hired me. So, they can’t usually peruse an entire manuscript in a couple of days, like I can. They take their time and read at leisure, and make a few marks here and there as they consider their edits. Eventually, I do hear from them, and we go through the editorial phase together, but honestly the time between me submitting the manuscript and clients submitting edits is kind of torture. I’m wondering—what do they think? Do they like it? Is this silence good? Or bad? Are they even reading it?  

I call this anxious time period “ghostwriter’s limbo.” 

Some clients know they’ll want to customize the book quite a bit, so they ask for an extra month or even two months to perform their edits. I’m happy to give it to them, as I want them to be very satisfied with their results, but that leaves me in that weird limbo state for even longer, which is actually where I am now, with two different clients. It’s a weird feeling.

And that’s all I have to say. I’m just sharing a little day-in-the-life of a ghostwriter situation for you, here. With this work, there are months of intense personal relating, when doing the interviews, and then there are months on end of just writing on my own. But what it all means to me is that–  

when clients (especially repeat clients) don’t even bother checking in with me during the writing process, it means they trust me. 

They love not having to do a single thing and then suddenly having me hand them their masterpiece one day, almost out of the blue. As for me, I love that they love that and enjoy providing such a magical experience. Despite clients’ silence during the six-month writing process, the book I produce is often a dream come true for them. 

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