Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of ghostwriting is brought to you by ghostwriter, novelist and writing guide guru Andrew Crofts.
‘Ghostwriters come out of the closet’
In all due modesty, writing a full length book to publishable – or even readable – standards is a bit of a knack. It takes practice and because someone is intelligent, educated and high achieving in another field doesn’t mean they are going to be able to do it just because they want to.
You could be top of your game in medicine, politics, show business, music, cooking or sport. You could be a soldier who has had jaw-dropping adventures or you could have survived some ordeal that holds people spellbound when you recount your tale over a pint in the pub, but that doesn’t mean you can tell your stories, or impart your expertise, in a compelling way over two or three hundred pages of text. No one would expect you to be able to paint a portrait of your family in oils just because you want one, or to dash off a concerto as a Christmas surprise for your Nan, so why would people think you could write a book?
Professional writers have been “ghosting” for others ever since writing was invented – even more so since printing came along, and now we have electronic publishing on top of that. Every so often there is an outcry in the media about the illiteracy rate but most of us are actually reading more words in an average day than ever before, albeit in newspapers and magazines or on computer and telephone screens. The more we communicate with one another the more noise we are competing against and the better we have to write in order to be heard and read. That’s why so many people need professional help.
For many years ghostwriting was only whispered about. Much of the workload fell on editors within publishing who would re-write the manuscripts that came in to them, but they no longer have the time or inclination for that. With the increasing transparency of everything – who can keep secrets for long in this news hungry world? – it has gradually dawned on the public that professional writers write most of the non-fiction books which are attributed to other people.
When Robert Harris wrote his bestselling thriller, “The Ghost”, in 2007 the cat was well and truly out of the bag. At the beginning of each chapter he quoted my book “Ghostwriting” (published by A&C Black), opening the story with: “Of all the advantages that ghosting offers, one of the greatest must be the opportunity that you get to meet people of interest.”Andrew Crofts. Ghostwriting.
Next came the film of the book by Roman Polanski, with Ewan McGregor putting a glamorous and familiar face to our usually faceless profession, (and Mr Polanski adding his own inimitable spoonful of controversy by getting himself arrested for a thirty year-old crime during the editing phase).
So, ghostwriting is well and truly out of the closet with celebrities happy to admit that they have had help with their books. Writers relying on their craft to support themselves and their families can now feel vindicated in accepting ghosting assignments. Even the less interesting ones are good practice. They exercise your skills as a listener, they open up new worlds and new people for your inspection, and they allow you to practice your writing skills. Even novelists can benefit from these extended exercises in writing in the voices of other characters.
I have recently published “The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer”, the fictional memoir of a woman who left home at 15 to find fame and fortune in the lower echelons of London show business during the seventies, eighties and nineties – eventually being discovered by the modern reality television celebrity circus. Entering the head of a character so very different to myself, and capturing her voice, involved almost exactly the same processes I would have gone through had she been a real person with a publishing deal, telling me her story and relying on me to shape it and dramatise it and provide it with a gripping narrative arc.
And what a good film it was (despite me guessing the ending)… thank you Andrew!
Andrew Crofts is one of Britain’s most successful ghostwriters with more than 80 books in print, many of which were Sunday Times number one bestsellers. He has also written novels including “The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride”, the new e-book “The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer” available at Smashwords and “Maisie’s Amazing Maids”. He is also the author of “The Freelance Writer’s Handbook” published by Piatkus and “Ghostwriting” published by A&C Black. You can read my interview with Andrew, posted Sunday 6th November, here.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with author of comedy (& dashes of other genres) Michael Allen – the one hundred and eighty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks at Smashwords.