As someone who has done it in the past, ghostwriting can certainly be a bit creepy at first. Asking if you are doing justice to your subjects and their ideas can make you shiver. From my perspective, taking the fear out of ghostwriting comes down to knowing when to use the subject’s voice or your own. And it must be a half and half mix, too much of column A, and the piece may lack structure; too much of column B, and you’re just writing, not writing ghosts. I learned early on that a Frankenstein-style voice combination where you try to write as yourself and your subject simultaneously isn’t really a thing, so save yourself the headache and split your voice and your voice like that.
<h2>What is ghostwriting?</h2> Ghostwriting is the process of writing a copy in someone else's name. For example, as a freelancer, you might be hired to write a blog post that is published under the CMO's name. Essentially, ghostwriting is when someone else has the name of a piece that you wrote. <h2>How to write ghosts</h2> Interview the person for whom you are writing. Make sure you understand the voice of the person for whom you are writing. Find the topics. Be flexible.
1. Interview the person for whom you are writing.
The most important part of ghostwriting is understanding the material you are writing about. As a ghostwriter, you are likely to write on a variety of topics, from industry blogs to memoirs. Before diving into each piece, it is essential to speak to the person you are writing for and discuss the topic in depth. Pam Bump, the audience growth director for the HubSpot blog team, says: “If you can, interview the person you’re writing for over the phone or in a video call. This will not only allow you to jot down all the key details they want to cover. in content, but you will also learn more about how they speak or give advice. This can help you write content that naturally reads as if they wrote it. ”
2. Make sure you understand the voice of the person for whom you are writing.
Skipping that last point, interviewing the person you’re writing for will help you get a feel for their voice. We’ll discuss when to use your voice or the voice of the customer below, but each piece you write should have a different style and tone. Bump adds: “If you can’t interview them to get an idea of how they speak or present their thoughts, you can also read some of their other blog posts, social media posts, or published work to get an idea of how they write.”
3. Find the topics.
When interviewing the person you are ghosting for, it is important to think about the narrative and structure of the piece you are writing. Karla Cook, Senior Manager of the HubSpot blog team, says, “It’s important to meet with the person you are ghosting for at the beginning of the project and have a conversation about what they want the written article to cover. This is your chance to share. your brilliant, unfiltered thoughts with you, and your job as a ghostwriter is to identify themes, strong phrases, and potential narratives for when you get closer to producing the piece later. This is also an opportunity to get a feel for how the theme plays out. it approaches communication and can help inform how you represent your voice. ”
4. Be flexible.
While interviewing your subject is the best way to learn about the topic you’re writing about, being adaptable and flexible is important to being successful. Cook adds, “People who use ghostwriters are often busy, so if you can’t meet them in person, ask them to record a voice memo or even jot down a few notes on a document to get started.” Now, let’s dive into one of the most important aspects of ghostwriting: when to use your own voice versus your client’s.
When to use your voice
1. Main ideas
The plot of the piece should be determined by your topic, no matter what your personal opinion of it is. Please note that it will be published under your signature. Your opinion is debatable and should therefore be mute. The thesis aside, I also avoid adding or subtracting ideas. If a subject bothers to make an argument, that means that it is important to him and must appear in the finished product in some way. On the contrary, if the topic doesn’t mention a topic, don’t bring it up, no matter how much you think the point will bring home, clarify the argument, or sound great. It’s simple: if they don’t say it, I don’t write it.
2. Signature words or phrases
If you were writing an article for Emeril lagasse, you can bet it would be peppered with “BAM!” It would be difficult to find myself using this phrase in my everyday life; heck, it’s not even my favorite exclamation. But Emeril says so, and that’s why I would write it. “Bam!” it’s a pretty innocuous example, but I bet you can think of some favorite phrase twists that don’t make sense, sound silly, or are unnecessary. But if this is how the subject speaks, then it is presumably how the subject would write. Including signature words makes the article appear more genuine, especially to readers familiar with the person. The only time I cross out or edit a favorite phrase is if it is not intentionally grammatically incorrect. All other instances of “BAM!” “Fuggetaboutit”, “says the poll” and “that’s it, folks!” Stay here.
3. Data points
Data is on almost every trade item these days, and for good reason. Nothing can back up an argument like the perfect statistic or graph. The problem is that there are many statistics that are not perfect. Sometimes a subject offers excellent data to support his points, and other times … less good. But I try to keep in mind that I am not the expert here; There is a reason the subject used this specific piece of information, and it is not up to you to judge if it is up to par. My goal is to use most of the data points the subjects give me, but I always ask for the source. That way, if I’m really feeling insecure about the numbers, I can go back and check their accuracy on my own. If I find a problem, I report it to my subject and let them determine if it should still be posted.
When to use your voice
Generally, people who use ghostwriters are busy doing fascinating things. That means their minds are full of interesting information, and with so much on their plates, they may not always be the most organized speakers. They probably didn’t have time to document exactly what they would like to talk about, and could add a fact or two off topic. The ideas of the subject should be the essence of the piece, but it is the responsibility of the writer to organize those thoughts in the most logical and effective way. Set the topic for success by taking an anecdote that was mentioned in the middle of your interview and moving it to the beginning if you think that’s where it belongs. Similarly, conclusions can come from anywhere – listen carefully to a solid final thought and take it to the last paragraph. List the arguments presented and order them in the way that you think works best. Most likely, your subject will appreciate the help of the organization.
Not many people go from one point to another with perfectly crafted segues. Instead, they jump back and forth, interrupt, or abruptly change direction. That means it’s up to you to add the good transitions. I find these to be easier to provide with your own voice, as each has their own way of getting the arguments flowing. Trying to imitate someone else’s segue style could result in a confusing article.
3. Much needed explanations
I try not to insert any points that have not been at least referenced by my topic, but there is an important exclusion from this rule: explanations. Some subjects are so involved in their area of expertise that it can be difficult for them to break down their arguments for the laity. The writer should act as a representative of the audience, and if they think a point might need clarification, they should come back to the topic. If the subject does not offer an adequate explanation, ghostwriters should take care to provide succinct supporting information, but it should be done in a few sentences.
Bonus: when you shouldn’t use a voice
Just as important as understanding which voice to use is knowing when not to use any voice; in other words, recognize what needs to be cut. As I mentioned earlier, the subjects who depend on ghostwriters are usually bright and passionate people. That said, they can sometimes go off on a tangent. The article does not need to be representative of the time spent talking about each point. Maybe you covered one argument in five minutes and another in twenty. You should include both in the part, but try to allocate each space equal by reducing the second. Take an editorial look at which details are important and which are not, and cut accordingly. Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2014 and has been updated for completeness.