Ghostwriting 101: Tips from Bloggers Who’ve Done It
As anyone who has done it in the past, ghostwriting can certainly be a bit spooky initially. Wondering whether you’re doing all your subjects and their ideas justice can run a cool down your spine.
From my perspective, taking the concern out of ghostwriting comes down to understanding when to use your subject’s voice or your own. And it should be a half-and-half blend — too much from column A, as well as the piece can lack framework; too much from column N, and you’re just writing, not ghostwriting.
I learned early on that some Frankenstein-esque combination voice where you try to write as yourself as well as your subject simultaneously isn’t really anything, so save yourself the head ache and divvy up their particular voice and your voice such as so.
Essentially, ghostwriting is when someone else has the byline on a piece you wrote.
1 . Interview the person you’re ghostwriting for.
The most important section of ghostwriting is understanding the material that you’re writing about. As a ghostwriter, you probably write about a variety of topics from industry blogs to memoirs. Before you dive straight into each piece, it’s essential to talk to the person you’re ghostwriting for and discuss the subject in depth.
Pam Bump, the particular Audience Growth Manager around the HubSpot blog team, says, “If you can, interview the individual you’re ghostwriting for over the phone or on a video call. This will not only allow you to remove all the key details they wish to cover in the content, but you’ll also learn more about how they speak or present tips. This assists you write content that will naturally reads as if it had been written by them. ”
2 . Make sure you understand the voice from the person you’re writing designed for.
Jumping off that final point, interviewing the person you will absolutely ghostwriting for will help you get a sense of their voice. We’ll dive into when to use your voice or the client’s tone of voice below, but each piece you write should have a distinct style and tone.
Lump adds, “If you can’t interview them to get a sense showing how they talk or present their thoughts, you can additionally read some of their other blog posts, social media posts, or published works to get a sense of how they write. ”
3. Find the themes.
When you’re interviewing the person you’re ghostwriting just for, it’s important to think about the narrative and structure of the piece you will absolutely writing.
Karla Cook, HubSpot’s Senior Manager of the blog team, says, “It’s crucial to meet with the person you’re ghostwriting for at the beginning of the project and have a conversation as to what they want the written item to cover. This is their chance to share their brilliant, unfiltered thoughts with you, and it’s your work as the ghostwriter to identify designs, strong phrases, and potential narratives for when you method producing the piece down the road. This is also an opportunity to obtain a feel for how your subject approaches communicating, and can help inform how you stand for their voice. ”
four. Be flexible.
While interviewing the subject is the best way to purchase topic you’ll be writing about, getting adaptable and flexible is essential to succeed.
Cook adds, “People who use ghostwriters are usually busy, so if you can’t meet with them in person, ask them to report a voice memo or even jot down a few notes inside a document to get started. ”
At this point, let’s dive into one of the very important aspects of ghostwriting: when to use your own voice compared to your client’s voice.
When to Use Their Tone of voice
1 . Primary Ideas
The discussion of the piece should be determined by your subject, no matter what your personal take on it is. Bear in mind that it’s going to published under their byline. Your opinion is moot, and therefore should be mute.
Thesis aside, I also steer clear of including or subtracting ideas. In case a subject bothers to bring up an argument that means it’s important to all of them, and should be featured in the finished product in some way. Alternatively, if the subject does not mention a topic, don’t bring it in, no matter how much you think it will bring the point home, clarify the argument, or audio awesome.
It’s simple: If they don’t say it, I don’t write it.
2 . Signature Words or even Phrases
If I were writing an article for Emeril Lagasse, you can bet it could be peppered with “BAM! ”
You would be hard-pressed to find me using this phrase in my day-to-day life — heck, not necessarily even my go-to exclamation. But Emeril says this, and for that reason, I would write it.
“Bam! ” is a fairly innocuous example, but I actually bet you can think of some favorite turns of phrase that are senseless, silly sounding, or even unnecessary. But if this is how the topic talks, then this is how the subject would presumably write. Including signature words makes the content seem more genuine, especially to readers familiar with the individual.
The only time I would strike or edit a favorite phrase is if it’s unintentionally grammatically incorrect. All other instances of “BAM! ” “fuggetaboutit, ” “survey says, ” and “that’s all folks! ” stay in.
3. Data Points
Data is in almost every company article these days, and rightly so. Nothing can support an argument quite like the perfect statistic or chart.
The problem is there are plenty of stats out there that aren’t ideal. Sometimes, a subject offers upward great data to support their particular points, and other times . less great. But We try to keep in mind that I’m not really the expert here — there’s a reason why the subject utilized this specific piece of data, and it’s not up to you to judge be it up to par.
I aim to use the majority of data points that subjects give me, but I usually inquire after the source. That way, if I really feel shaky concerning the numbers, I can go back plus check into their accuracy on my own. If I find a problem, I bring it to my subject’s interest and let them determine if it should still be published.
When to Use Your Voice
1 . Outline
Usually, people who use ghostwriters are usually busy doing fascinating things. That means that their thoughts are crammed with interesting details, and with so much on their plates, they may not always be the the majority of organized speakers. They most likely didn’t have time to document exactly what they would like to talk about, and so they might interject an off-topic fact or two.
The subject’s ideas should be the meats of the piece, but it’s the writer’s responsibility to organize those people thoughts in the most logical and effective way. Established the subject up for success simply by grabbing an anecdote they mentioned in the middle of your interview and moving it up towards the opener if you think that’s exactly where it belongs. Similarly, findings can come from anywhere — carefully listen for a solid closing thought, and bring it to the last paragraph.
List out the arguments shown, and arrange them by any means you think flows best. Odds are, your subject will be grateful for the organization help.
2 . Transitions
Only a few people move from one point out the next with perfectly crafted segues. Instead, they jump back and forth, interrupt themselves, or even abruptly change directions.
That means it’s up to you to add the nice transitions. I find that these are easier to provide in your own voice, since everyone has their very own way of making arguments flow. Trying to mimic someone else’s segue style might result in a garbled article.
3. Very Necessary Explanations
I try not to insert any factors that weren’t at least referenced by my subject, yet there is an important exclusion for this rule: explanations.
Some subjects are so embroiled in their specialization that it can be difficult for them to tenderize their arguments for laypeople. The writer should act as a proxy for the audience, and if they think a place could use some clarification, they need to circle back to the subject. If the subject fails to deliver a sufficient explanation, ghostwriters should then take it upon themselves to provide succinct supporting information — but it should be done in no more than a few sentences.
Reward: When You Shouldn’t Use a Voice
Just as important as understanding which voice to use will be knowing when to not make use of any voice — in other words, recognizing what should be cut.
As I mentioned above, subjects that rely on ghostwriters are often outstanding, passionate people. That said, they can sometimes go off on a tangent.
You don’t have to make the article associated with the time spent talking about every point. Maybe you covered one argument in five minutes, plus another in twenty. You need to include both in the piece, but try to allot each equal space by paring down the second. Cast an editorial eye to which information are important and which tend to be not, and cut accordingly.
Editor’s note: This post has been originally published in August 2014 and has been up-to-date for comprehensiveness.
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