Typically, my ghostwriting services encompass nonfiction topics. I’ll write books for clients about business tips, family traumas, victories over adversities, escaping from (or joining) cults, true crime, scientific endeavors, and all sorts of other stuff. It all falls under the heading of “narrative nonfiction,” meaning true stories told in entertaining ways. But then there are clients who ask me to write fiction, specifically novels. This as a whole different kettle of fish.
Now, I don’t usually ghostwrite fiction because that level of creativity is very intense and personal, and I’m not comfortable not getting credit for it. I’m perfectly fine with ghostwriting nonfiction because, when ghostwriting, I think of myself as a creative technician helping others tell stories which are, after all, their stories to tell. With fiction, though, I’m both making up the story (the technical part of the job) and telling the story (the creative part), so it’s quite a different type of work—double the effort, in fact. I do make exceptions, though, in certain cases.
Specifically, some clients come to me with a detailed outline already sketched out for the humorous and engaging novel they’re thinking about writing.
They have realized they don’t have the skill to write the novel, but they don’t want to give up, so they hire me to ghostwrite it based upon their outline. I will do this type of novel-writing job, because the client has taken care of the technical part already, setting me up as the creative technician who knows about how to structure stories and build great narrative voices.
Similarly, some clients have already written a novel that’s meant to be humorous and engaging but they realize it’s pretty bad. So, they give me the manuscript and ask me to completely rewrite it in such a way that it’s entertaining, suspenseful, character-driven, and psychologically complex … but without changing the plot any more than necessary. I will ghostwrite fiction under these circumstances, too. So, when it comes to humorous and engaging novel writing, it is possible to hire a ghostwriter. The key to success in this regard is being a client who has already put a significant amount of work into attempting to write a novel.
What doesn’t work in the ghostwriting world is having a client provide a vague idea for a novel plot with the expectation I’m going to ghostwrite a New York Times best-seller the client can then claim as his or her own. And yes, there are people who try to hire me for that kind of ghostwriting. I even had one client who wanted me to write deeply philosophical TED talks … but she had no philosophy upon which to base these talks. I was supposed to make up a brilliant, unique philosophy (about just about anything) and write a TED talk on it that she could take credit for. Umm… no. That’s not what ghostwriting is.
The idea for your novel or TED talk needs to come from you.
That’s why it’s perfectly ethical for you to take credit for it, even though someone else did the writing. So, if you have fleshed out a novel idea, please approach me to make it humorous and engaging, suspenseful and character-driven with my ghostwriting skill. Yes. That’s my job! And I love it! Let’s work together! The key is understanding exactly what ghostwriting is and what it isn’t.