What does a ghostwriter do?

A good ghostwriter works with authors to create “marketable literary properties.” That’s the trade-speak for a book that sells a lot of copies. More than a great book, more than good ideas, you want a marketable literary property.

No good author who ever won a major literary award or sold many thousands of copies of their book did it alone. These days, an author needs a publishing professional—an “insider”—to guide them through the publishing process.

It’s no secret that traditional publishers just don’t have the resources they’ve had in bygone days. Once upon a time, publishing house editors would sharpen, focus, and massage a manuscript to bring it up to publisher and industry standards. Major publishing houses took great ideas and good books and turned them into marketable literary properties.

In December 2009, the print world imploded with the explosion of easy publishing technology and print-on-demand. Most of the publishing house editors who worked their magic—who did that wonderful trimming and augmenting and massaging and restructuring—were purged and joined the countless other victims of the Great Recession.
Now, creating marketable literary properties is the purview and responsibility of professional ghostwriters. I’m talking well-trained and experienced professional ghostwriters. (Anyone can claim to be a ghostwriter, but are they trained and experienced in current publishing industry trends?)

Ghostwriters help non-writing celebrities and business folk. We work with people with inspirational tales to develop and write their titles. We also help serious writers get a leg up in the marketplace by knowing the industry perspective, not the consumer perception, about the $15 billion global book business.

People are reading more, not less. The book business is exploding everywhere. More and more stories need to be told. Ghostwriters are here to help. We’re not just here to help the people who can’t write for themselves. We’re also here to help the people who want to make their great idea and their fantastic manuscript into a marketable literary property.

The book business is in the middle of another major change—and this one is even more far reaching than the last, reflecting so many areas of society. The traditional “old white man” stronghold that has dictated what gets published, how it gets published, what needs to be published, and how books should read is giving way. That traditional bastion is being replaced by women and people of color, and it is about time. Acquisition agents, acquisition editors, agents, and literary scouts are all scrambling to figure out how to adjust their demands.

A good ghostwriter stays on top of trends like this one. We help you make the jump from being a talented writer to being a well-selling writer of a marketable literary property.

I have been trained and certified by Claudia Suzanne, perhaps the most experienced ghostwriter in history, with more than one hundred fifty (!) “invisible credits” to her name. She’s the creator of the Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program, recognized by the State of California as a professional certification. I hold this certification.

As a certified ghostwriter, this is what I can do for you:

1. I can help you with focus and positioning.

I can help make sure that the book you are writing will be positioned correctly in the market. Before you write the manuscript, or even while you’re writing the manuscript, we figure out exactly what your strongest markets will be.

2. I can help you determine your “deal breakers.”

A deal breaker makes the reader stop reading. They include: a bifurcated audience, digressions, missing or awkward transitions or subheads, redundancies, extraneous material, information gaps, excessive block quotes, multiple voices (including plagiarism), and more. Few editors catch such issues. I help you fix your deal breakers
Deal breakers almost always come down to structure. You must know what your structure is, with a “slinky flow” from the beginning to the end. That is an art. Most writers cannot see the structure of their own book because they don’t know how to look for it.

The book must be persuasive. It could be really well written. But if it’s not persuasive, usually because of your structure, it won’t be successful. In fiction, especially, it’s all about structure. I’m not talking about architecture—the inciting incident, the rising action, the climax, followed quickly by the denouement and the resolution. Structure is the plot and character integration. Structure recognizes those impossibilities. You can’t see them.

The biggest problem most nonfiction structure issues come down to is “Slinky flow.” You have to not only have a persuasive thesis, but every single chapter must also have a persuasive thesis that wraps back around.

These are major reasons why books just don’t fly in the marketplace. They are easily fixed, but you must know how to recognize them.

3. I can help you recognize your ROI realities.

You won’t get ROI realities from your editors or your publishing advisors. But you will get it from a certified ghostwriter. I know how to put together best seller strategy plans.

4. I work cooperatively and collaboratively to do the musical line editing on your manuscript. This elevates your manuscript from a great book into a marketable literary property.

5. I can teach you the insider tricks that will position your manuscript in the marketplace, earning favorable attention from agents, publishers, and readers.

When agents ask you for a one-sentence summary of your book, they are not looking for a marketing blurb. They’re looking for an industry pitch. It’s very specific. It gives away very specific information. In fiction, it gives away the ending; in nonfiction, it gives away the classification. It gives away everything, but it is one sentence.

At any given time, between 9 and 11 million manuscripts are competing for the same agents, publishers, and readership, and over 1.5 million new titles will flood the marketplace every year. I help you position your book to land a literary agent and a traditional publisher contract, or I give you a better chance to attract an established distributor, who will get your book into retailers in libraries around the world, or, at the very least, generate more positive reviews of your self-published title to generate more word of mouth to sell more copies.

6. I can help you recognize and massage your first draft into a second draft.

The second draft is critical. It identifies all those deal breakers, and it makes sure that everything is in the right place. But it also makes sure that your prose speaks to what the reader wants to read and what the industry wants to pitch. That’s a second draft. That’s a marketable literary property.

It would delight me to talk with you about your project and how I can help you transform it into a marketable literary property. Please call or email me today.

Donna Mosher