Friday, November 13, 2009

Got Ghost Gigs?

Why yes, I do. Thanks so much for asking.

This has been a good week for me. I signed two new ghostwriting deals. Both are books. One is for an entrepreneur with a great success story. The other is for a big company with an existing title that needs updating for the modern marketplace. But you don’t want to hear me brag. You want to know: How can I do that? Without further ado, these are some of my tips for getting ghost gigs:

Tell people you’re a ghostwriter. Sounds silly but it works. You never know who needs a ghost. You never know who knows someone who needs a ghost. Make it known this is what you do not just to classic “networking” marks but to friends, family, neighbors. Word gets around.

Create a ghost-centric web presence. The big company that hired me for the revise job said I got the call in part because when they were still researching writers (before any of us even knew we were candidates) they looked at websites, etc., to see “who was really committed to ghostwriting.”

Volunteer. Careful with this one. It’s a good marketing tool, but used poorly, it can backfire on you. Lots of worthy organizations need ghostwriting done – a fund raising letter, a speech, a newsletter. Volunteer to ghostwrite for the organizations you care about, preferably ones where the people know you personally. When you’re thanked for all your hard work, be sure to say: “You’re very welcome. I was happy to do it. And I’m always looking for paid ghostwriting gigs so if you ever hear of someone looking for a ghostwriter, I hope you’ll think of me.” What’s the potential backfire? Be careful not to get sucked in to doing a ton of work for free. Some here and there is fine. But it shouldn’t start taking up huge swathes of your time. That just keeps you from finding paying work.

That's a few of the ones I use. What about you? How do you drum up ghosting work?

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ellen. I've had two people ask me this week how I get ghosting gigs. There are a number of ways that have worked for me.

    First, I network. I find the best way to find the right gigs for me is to work with trusted sources. I let editors, friends, colleagues, and others know about my ghosting. This is, for me, the best way to find gigs. Former ghosting clients are often great sources of referrals, too. Happy clients can sell your services like no one else.

    Agents and publishers. I also make a habit of sending letters of introduction to various agents and publishing contacts with a brief summary of my ghosting expertise. This way, new contacts know about what I do and may think of me when an opportunity for ghosting comes up.

    Job boards. From time to time, you may find decent ghosting gigs on job boards like Mediabistro, JournalismJobs, and even Craigslist (although the latter has a LOT of dreck, too). It's a good idea to check them on a regular basis. does a good job of rounding up freelance writing gigs on Craigslist and is only $29.00/year. Good, inexpensive time-saver.

    Magazine editors. I've had referrals come from magazine editors for whom I write regularly. They've either hired me for bigger in-house projects or sent my name along to people looking for ghosts. So, be sure you let your mag editors know what you do.

    There are also custom publishers who produce books. They can be a good source of work. A simple Google search will show you some of the most prominent. Be sure to differentiate yourself with an area of expertise instead of a one-size-fits-all ghost.