What It Was like to Ghostwrite 20 Books in Less than a Year
Ghostwriting is a rewarding, yet challenging endeavor. This is what it takes to write books for someone else.
I spent almost a year as a full-time ghostwriter. My job was to write books for a ghostwriting firm that would later publish those books on popular platforms like Amazon. Some of the books I wrote even made it to hardcopy print versions.
While writing an entire book is rewarding, it can also be somewhat stressful and intense. I also barely made enough money to get by, which forced me to find a second job.
So, is ghostwriting a lucrative career? How much work is involved in writing a professional book? And most of all, what is it like to write 20 books in less than a year? I answer all this and more below.
My journey to 20 books
I started my ghostwriting career with not that much experience. Yet, I still managed to write 20 articles that received plenty of praise successfully. Ghostwriting certainly made me a better writer!
My journey to 20 books was challenging. I had harsh deadlines that led to long hours for little pay. However, I found joy in completing and submitting my work. Before I get into my experience as a ghostwriter, let’s look at what ghostwriting is.
How ghostwriting works
Selling e-books on amazon can be a lucrative career. Publishing a book on Amazon can lead to consistent monthly residual income. Authors with multiple books on Amazon can potentially generate a few hundred dollars a month from each book with zero effort.
The only effort you will have to make is writing and publishing the book upfront. Now, imagine if you didn’t have to write the book?
This is when a ghostwriter steps in. A ghostwriter will write a book for you based on the guidelines you supply them. Your guidelines can include writing style, chapters, crucial points to research, and more. The ghostwriter completes the book within an agreed upon deadline and submits the book to the editor.
The editor does the necessary spelling and grammar checks while ensuring that all the author’s guidelines are met. Once everything is in order, the editor then passes off the book to the author to publish.
I was a top-rated ghostwriter for a company that offered ghostwriting services. These ghostwriting services charge people (per 100 words) to write books for them. The editor and I will get a cut from that charge.
Because there are 3 people involved in writing the book, the ghostwriter stands to earn a smaller portion. You can earn more if you deal directly with authors, but acquiring those clients is another story on its own.
Ghostwriting case study: The ketogenic diet
A famous fitness influencer with a thriving Instagram profile with tons of followers decided to release a brand new book on Amazon. Based on her fans’ needs, she decided to write a book on the Keto Diet.
The book would also have chapters on Intermittent Fasting and Keto Recipes. However, the fitness influencer has a tight schedule that allows for little to no time for writing.
She has to choose between spending time writing a book (that may or may not be a success) or creating content and growing her YouTube and Instagram profiles. The fitness influencer hires a ghostwriting firm to write a book for her based on her requirements. The ghostwriting firm hires editors and ghostwriters to develop the book.
Once the book is ready, it’s submitted to the fitness influencer, and payment is made to the ghostwriting firm, then distributed to the writer and editor. The Fitness influencer can now publish a Keto Diet book on Amazon. They can promote that book on their social media and get their fans to buy their book.
My first book
The first book I worked on as a ghostwriter was “An Ultimate Guide to Playing Fortnite.” I was lucky with this topic because I already knew a bit about Fortnite and similar games.
I was given the task of writing a 12,000-word guide on how to master Fortnite: Battle Royale. My deadline was 7 days, which isn’t too bad at all. I would earn $120 for this gig, which was roughly a dollar per 100 words.
The task of writing this book (my first book) was stressful at first. It had to be perfect; it had to be extremely well researched; it had to be the perfect guide that could turn anyone into a gaming master. Because of this mentality, my first few days didn’t go too well. I struggled to write because I was too critical about my work.
Research is key
As I researched more, I became more confident in what to write. I stopped worrying too much about the word count, and my writing began to flow naturally. I was able to submit the finished book on time. The editor checked for spelling and grammar mistakes and later presented it to the client.
I remember the feeling of absolute accomplishment like I had achieved a crucial milestone in my life.
The epic feeling you get as an artist once your creation is ready. Too bad I was just a ghostwriter, which meant that this feeling was short-lived, until the next book.
The stress behind writing my second book
The second book I ghostwrote was a self-help book about uplifting your spirit by detoxing, meditation, living in the moment, and more. I had little to no idea what to write, only a basic outline of the “7 Steps.” This freaked me out a lot. How was I going to write an entire book based on topics I have never written for.
I watched a ton of videos online and read many self-help and meditation blogs until I became an expert. This once again gave me the confidence to write seamlessly and finish the book on time. I did such a great job that the editor gave me a 9/10 rating for the book. Again, research is everything when ghostwriting.
Finding a rhythm ghostwriting books
Not all of my books were around 10k words. Some were smaller, around 5k words (one was 3k). However, I did write a few books around 30K words. I was given a two-week deadline for those big books. I settled into a good rhythm after a few books. I would spend the first day or so planning what to write.
This meant finding links to what needs to be researched and creating headlines for sections and sub-sections. I would go as far as to plan the paragraphs that need to be written!
The next day would be researching and getting to know more about the topic. This is the hard part that feels like school again. However, it is necessary to help you gain the confidence to write, which will increase productivity later on.
Once I have done all my preparations, I write until I’m done. When I reach moments when I’m tired or not in the mood to write, I spend that time checking previous sections that I wrote with Grammarly.
I became so efficient that I could calculate when I would finish and how many words I could write in a day. The idea is to make the process as straightforward and manageable as possible.
Who is ghostwriting for?
I personally loved ghostwriting. I wrote topics that ranged from puppy training to self-discipline. I acquired so much knowledge during my time writing those books. Unfortunately, the pay is terrible.
The most I was earning a month was around $500 (when I was lucky). If I were to earn more, I would have to find and deal with clients directly. This means less time for writing and more time spent on prospecting.
If you are someone that’s looking to past the time doing something enjoyable and productive, then ghostwriting is great. You can definitely learn something from all the research. I still play Fortnite today using the same strategies I wrote about two years ago! Ghostwriting is also great for college students or kids that just finished school.
With so many restrictions out now, people are taking on more remote jobs. So, ghostwriting can be an excellent gateway into remote work and becoming a full-time freelancer.
Key takeaways from ghostwriting 20 books
Becoming a ghostwriter helped me to kickstart my career as a freelancer. The pay wasn’t good initially. However, it was good enough to cover my basic needs — the experience I earned from ghostwriting helped me discover better-paying gigs.
For example, the more I wrote, the more I earned on Upwork, which meant that I was active on the platform. The algorithm locates active members and recommends these members to companies. I was getting plenty more offers on Upwork due to my consistent ghostwriting.
More writing takeaways and tips
Research is king! Try to become as knowledgeable as you can on a topic. It shows in your writing. If you want to sound like an expert, then you will have to research and become one. Readers can easily pick up content that isn’t well researched.
Planning is everything. Meticulously planning the book even to the smallest detail is crucial in making the writing process as efficient as possible. The more you plan, the more confident you will become when the actual writing starts.
Aim high. I did take a look at other writers’ work. Most ghostwriters will not put their heart and soul into their work, which is understandable. However, it shows and leads to lower ratings. Try to produce amazing content always, which will earn you higher ratings. This can lead to higher earnings as you can earn the label of a top writer.
Advanced Online Marketer, Content Manager, and Writer for vyper.ai/blog This is where I share my most valuable marketing lessons, mistakes, and career goals.