What does a ghostwriter do? Sally explains.

Ever wondered what it's like to be a ghostwriter? How do you take someone else's story and write it from their point of view. Sally Collings discusses what you need to do to become a successful ghostwriter.

Our top-rating podcast So you want to be a writer features a regular ‘Writer in Residence’ segment – where an author, editor or other industry professional has a chat with one of our awesome presenters.

In episode 42, Valerie Khoo spoke with Sally Collings – an author and ghostwriter about (among other things) what exactly being a ghostwriter means…

“Ghostwriting typically is a very invisible process, which I guess is why it’s got that name. A writer creates a manuscript on behalf of another person so, typically, it would be working for someone like a celebrity or a business person or a politician, someone who is high profile and therefore people want to read their story but they don’t necessarily have the time or the expertise or the know-how to write it themselves.

“A ghostwriter comes in and is kind of a ‘writer for hire' and works with that person. It usually involves interviewing them or looking at material they’ve written in the past like speeches or checking out videos of their presentations, and just getting inside their skin. So it’s a little bit like being an actor. You have to really think your way into that person’s mind and write their book in the way that they would write it if they had the time or the capacity.”

“A lot of people talk about ‘deep ghostwriting', which is where the ghostwriter is completely invisible – there’s no credit, no mention of them. Or sometimes a ghostwriter might be credited only on the inside pages or on the acknowledgements.

“And often you’ll see books that will say something like ‘written by X with Y', and that would be a co-writing situation. Inside the industry, it’s generally acknowledged that the second named person is most likely the person who did the heavy lifting of actually most of the writing.”

Sally has plenty more to say about the ghostwriting industry, including some of her favourite assignments. To read the transcript or to listen to the full interview, head to our podcasts page.

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