An Interview with Karen Cole, Ghost Writer and Editor - Behind the Scenes
This month we’re fortunate to have an interview with book ghost writer and editor, Karen Cole. If you’ve considered adding ghost writer to you resume then this interview is one you want to read.
Karen, please share with me a little about your background and how you decided on ghost writing as a career.
I have been a freelance writer and editor off and on since 1978, when I started as a freshman at Ohio University in the journalism department. Through the years, I’ve amassed a self-determined degree in journalism, fine art and creative writing at several different universities. Anyway, I began copy editing book manuscripts for friends and contacts, and eventually I set up my shingle as a book editor in early 2003. I started with a small editing website and branched out from there, noticing I needed to do sizeable rewriting and ghost writing on my clients’ manuscripts. So I became a ghost writer, switching over to a book, screenplay, music and other freelance writing and editing projects ghost writing agency in 2005, mostly due to my getting far more work offers than I could handle by myself.
Once you made the decision to be a ghost writer, how did you initially acquire clients?
Basically, after being a copy editor for two years, I decided I was doing plenty of ghost writing, so I changed my website over to a book ghost writing and editing site, eventually also taking on screenwriting and music writing and editing clients as well. Over the years, I’ve used my main website, a blog site and several social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social places to gather in clients. I also get word of mouth referrals from satisfied clients, and I am always looking for new resources to generate more client leads.
You are the Executive Director of Ghost Writer, Inc., which has a team you work with. How many are on your team, and how do you determine whom to add?
We have some 130 different ghost writers, editors, marketers, illustrators and others on our current team, and I am always adding new, qualified workers. It’s an outsource team, so nobody works directly for our company. Every project lead is a work for hire deal, and I send project leads out on a first come, first serve basis. The client hires the GWI worker and pays them directly, not through us. I qualify candidates personally, going through their resumes and samples individually. I only hire people I feel good about who have plenty of professional credentials, or really talented student writers whom I like.
How do you match up someone from your team with a client seeking a ghost writer?
Normally the client writes or calls me, and then I send the lead on to a writer or writers I choose from the files on my team. They write me back, and I match them up with the client’s lead. It’s that simple. The worker pays me a referral fee for each project, 15% out of each payment they actually receive from the job if they happen to land it.
Ghost Writer, Inc., lists book ghost writer, editor and proofreader under the site name. Does a ghost writer have to possess all of those skills, or can they only write the book and then have someone else edit?
A book ghost writer, for example, only needs to be able to create a working manuscript. I will find, when needed, another editor for the manuscript, and even a third worker, a proofreader, to give the manuscript the most polished, professional appearance that we can provide. But some ghost writers do all of it, ghost writing, editing and proofreading a manuscript. It’s up to them and their requirements. I also have people on our team who only edit, or just proofread.
Do ghost writers contract for a flat fee to write a book, or are there percentage steps built into your contracts?
Sometimes one or the other, sometimes it’s both. Usually, we only take upfront payments for our fees, and mostly these are flat rate payments – such as $25,000 to ghost write a 300 page book manuscript, with no percentage or on spec payments involved. But for books we feel are likely to sell quite well, sometimes we take a smaller upfront payment in conjunction with a percentage payment of 10-15%. In rare cases, when it’s a celebrity book for example, we might take solely a percentage payment of 15-20% of net sales.
If someone reading this interview wants to pursue a ghost writing career, what’s your advice to them?
Write, write and write some more, writing for literary magazines, other people and the Internet. Get published somehow, either through your own books or through magazine and Internet article sites such as Ezine Articles. You can get hired as a ghost writer for ridiculously low wages on Freelancer.com and Guru.com; this is good at least to start out and get your ghost writing credentials. Then, once you have some references and recommendations, you can open up your own freelance ghost writing website. I have more info on how to become a ghost writer at Ezine Articles under the name Karen S. Cole. Just type it into the search box there.
Do you have any other thoughts and comments you’d like to share with us?
The life of a book ghost writer and editor can be pretty intriguing. I’m currently working on helping a dying Vietnam veteran write the memoirs of his life, where he was written a sweet pen-pal letter by a young girl, about my age at the time. It’s touching and poignant, but it depends on his health as to whether we can actually finalize the project. I specialize in memoirs, and nowadays it’s important for a book ghost writer to specialize in a certain style or genre of book material. It helps you professionally if you specialize. All the best book ghosts do.
How can readers connect with you if they’re interested in your services? You also have a blog. Would you share those links with us?
You can find me and my team members, all of which are eager to work on your projects, at Ghost Writer, Inc. on www.rainbowriting.com – our main website. We have a blog at www.ghostwriterbook.com and I have a blog showing my work at www.ghostwriterwriting.com as well. You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ghostwriterwriting, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/karencole37 and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/bookghostwriter.
Thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to answer our questions, Karen.
Columnist Lizzie T. Leaf: Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf started life in Kansas, continued her growing in North Carolina, and currently shivers through the winters in Colorado.
Since discovering the fun of writing paranormal, she plays with creating vampires, faeries and other immortals. When she needs a touch of reality, her Contemporary Erotic Romances come into play. Her most recent release is Nordic Heat, available at http://amzn.to/1owng5k
If she’s not creating mischief for paranormal beings, or getting under the covers with her erotic heroes, she can be found exploring the other genres she wants to write. She also served as the 2012 President for the Heart of Denver Romance Writers and is the 2014 VP of Programs.
Lizzie loves to read, spend time with her family and travel with her best friend husband during her free time.