Sunday, March 14, 2010

Living As a Ghost – Without Having to Die First

Today we welcome Kim Pearson, a ghostwriter and owner of Primary Sources. Kim has just started an online course for writers interested in becoming ghosts, so read on for more information. We look forward to additional posts about the ghostly career in the future. Welcome, Kim.
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The first book I wrote as someone else was for my own grandmother. I wrote the story of her coming to America as a child, her experiences as a “flapper” in the 1920s, her housewife life in a mountain logging town during the Depression, and her war service in the Second World War. I interviewed her and recorded our conversations, and she loaned me a box of old letters in spidery handwriting, plus about thirty albums full of photos of people even she couldn’t remember. I wrote it in first person, in her voice, using many of the phrases characteristic of my grandmother, with idioms common for her era. I wrote the book for love of my grandmother and because I wanted my own two daughters to know their heritage.

Grandma loved her book. She was so proud of it she showed it to all her friends, and since she was a highly social woman, a lot of people got to see it. One of those people raved about the book to her daughter, and then the daughter called me up and asked me to do the same thing for her mother. That was my first paid ghostwriting job. I charged a miniscule amount considering the energy and time I spent on it, but it was a great learning experience to write for/as a total stranger. It too was a success, and for the first time it occurred to me that I might be able to make a living doing what I loved – writing – and had been doing “on the side” for the previous twenty-odd years.

So I was off and running … well, not really running. I was off and limping. I had a lot to learn about ghostwriting, especially about how to market my services. But that was almost 15 years ago, and here I still am. And now I am so much smarter about the ghostwriting business, and how to live the ghostwriter’s life. I no longer charge miniscule amounts, for one thing. I know how to conduct a great interview, winkling out stories and ideas my clients thought they had forgotten. I know some tricks to make my writing sound like someone else wrote it. I know legal stuff about copyright, royalties, and confidentiality. I know how to combat the ghostwriting “stigma” so people know it’s okay to use a ghostwriter. I know how to convince people that it’s worth their time, energy, and especially their money to write a book. And those are just a few of the many things I now know about being a ghostwriter.

I believe that writing – or sharing in some way – our stories, ideas, and wisdom, is one of our most important life tasks. Our stories show us how we connect with each other, they allow us to teach and learn, they inspire us, and they heal our divisions and our wounds. Our ideas, and our lives, matter. This is why I do what I do, and it’s why I think the more writers helping non-writers share their ideas and stories, the better.

And that’s why I developed my new program for writers called Living as A Ghost. In it I share all the ghostwriting information it has taken me years to learn. For only $349, writers who enroll in this program receive:

Comprehensive, in-depth information about the ghostwriting business and the ghostwriting life, that saves time, energy, and money.

Valuable tips on how to turn writing skills into a way to both make money and help others.

Actual ghostwriting practice – including professional feedback.

An ongoing resource for answering questions and discussing the challenges and opportunities that may come your way as you pursue your ghostwriting career.

A Certificate of Course Completion.

And finally, you will have a lot of fun. (And so will I.)
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There is more information at http://www.primary-sources.com/learntoghost.html. Or you can email me and I’d be delighted to share how excited I am about this new program.


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8 comments :

  1. This is really intersting stuff. Have you seen the Polanski film?

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  2. Quite interesting. Ghostwriting, it seems to me, would be difficult - getting into the skin and mindset of someone else.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  3. Paul, I've only seen the trailers for the new Polanski film, but it's on my list. Another one on my list is "The Other Dumas", a French film that has stirred up a long-simmering controversy about whether or not Alexandre Dumas used a ghostwriter. Ghostwriters don't usually get this much fame.

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  4. I have a good friend who does this kind of writing, although she had never specifically called it ghost writing. Her approach, however, is the same as yours and she has done a number of books for clients who have interesting stories to tell and share with family and friends. She has also started working with clients to write a Last Testament, leaving behind bits of wisdom and advice for loved ones.

    This can be a lucrative field for a writer who is interested in doing this.

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  5. I have always thought ghostwriting would be a great way to make a living.

    If I ever get enough money, I may take your course.

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  6. It sounds like you have a lot of wisdom and experience to pass on to other ghostwriters just starting out.

    Elsa Neal
    HearWriteNow
    Blood-Red Pencil

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  7. Thanks for the comments. Ghostwriting is indeed a good way to make a living, and it has the added benefit of being fun. Maryann, although I've written memoirs, I haven't written any "Last Testaments", but what a great idea. Today the bulk of my writing is non-fiction books in many genres. I've found that you can write a book about nearly anything. I guess that's why it is so much fun.

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  8. You're providing a great service to those who need it. Not everyone can write, yet they want their stories to get out to the public.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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