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Many authors have a day job that pays the bills but dream of getting to the point where writing is their sole income.
If your own books don't make enough money for you, what about writing books for other people as a job? I have always wondered about ghostwriting, so here is an interview with Grant McDuling who has combined writing his own books with writing for others.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your writing career
I have been writing for around 30 years and come from a long line of writers. So I believe I was born to be a writer. I started out writing freelance pieces for magazines and newspapers in South Africa in the early 1970s. I specialised in motorcycling, motor sport and shipping.
Then, in 1993 we emigrated to Ireland and set up home in Dublin with the intention of writing full time. I figures that Ireland being a country of writers would be great, but I forgot that the place would also have an over-supply of writers. I got offered a job on the Irish Times on condition that I was a union member. Problem was that the union wouldn't let me join! So I settled for the next best thing: a newsreader on radio. At least I still had to write my own news bulletins, so I was able to satisfy my writing urge.
Later in 1994 we moved to Australia and settled in Brisbane. Career prospects didn't look so good in Europe at the time. I was offered a job at the ABC but decided to get into PR instead. In the meantime, while working the day job I was able to complete a novel that I had started in Ireland. This was published in the US and I have since signed a movie deal for it. I then wrote a book on motor cycling, which was also published in the US.
A few children's e-books followed and then I answered an ad in the paper for a book writer. The client was an entrepreneur who wanted a series of business books written. I accepted the job as his ghost writer and wrote 16 books for him over a three year period. These books were picked up by McGraw Hill in the US and went on to be international best sellers. I then wrote some other books for clients; one on real estate, one on taking control of your business and another on how to turn a business around. I am at the moment about to start writing two books for clients. I find I can write two at a time; one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
It occurred to me at this time that the biggest challenge facing freelance writers wasn't how to write (that they do naturally) but how to market themselves. It was the whole subject of running a business as a freelance journalist that most were having difficulty with. This led me to writing a book called /The Business of Freelance Journalism/ (http://www.zeus-publications.com/the_business_of_freelance_journalism.htm).
That was quickly followed by a book entitled “Successful Journalism”.
What is a ghost writer anyway?
Ghost writing is an interesting profession. I like to first get to know my clients even though many I have never met. I talk to them over the internet and quickly get to think like they do. My job is to write in such a way that they think they have done the writing. I wrote a book for a client once who was so disappointed with the finished work she wanted a refund. She complained that I had added nothing new to her work. She said I had just regurgitated what she had given me. It appeared to be her own work. There was a stunned silence when I pointed out that that was the intention; it was supposed to appear like her own work. She didn't get it. I didn't give her a refund though, and her book has been a success.
Some authors give me just the topic they want to write about and leave the rest for me to figure out. This happened with a book on the franchise industry. Of course, I charge more in cases like this. Other times they are far more organised and produce a detailed list of topics, details of material to be covered as well as ideas, concepts and just about everything else they could think of. This of course makes my job a lot easier.
Some people want a book for personal reasons but the majority I write for want them for business reasons. They are great marketing tools and lead generators. They also provide credibility for people on the speaking circuit.
How can people get in touch with you if they want to know more?
I can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am going to investigate ghostwriting in more detail and will post more details later.
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