If you are looking to watch a good mystery thriller, the Roman Polanski film “The Ghost Writer” is a well-written tale. The film stars Ewan McGregor as a ghostwriter hired by a former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) to help rewrite his memoirs. Polanski was the director of my favorite mystery thriller of all time, “Chinatown.”A ghost writer (I prefer ghostwriter) is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person. I am a business book ghostwriter and proud of it.
In the film McGregor’s character (we never learn his name, just like Joan Fontaine’s character in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca”) is paid $250,000 to rewrite the Prime Minister’s tome in under 30 days. In my world of business book ghostwriting for consultants, we are typically paid $20,000 to $30,000 and the writing takes anywhere from six months to a year to produce a manuscript. These books are not ways to make a publishing profit, they are marketing tools for consultants to gain more clients from the exposure that publishing and speaking brings.
For more on the film “The Ghost Writer, here is a link to IMBD: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1139328/ The film has an all-star cast including Eli Wallach, Olivia Williams, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, Jim Belushi and Kim Cattrall.
Some people are bothered by the notion of a ghostwriter, as if using one is somehow wrong. For a work of fiction I can understand that, but not for nonfiction. To me a ghostwriter is just another tool to get the writing job done. Like in the film, ghostwriters interview clients and record the conversations. From the conversations the ghostwriters extract the salient points and work them into the writing. When research is needed, the ghostwriters save the client time by doing the research.
Here is a ghostwriting story I tell. Once I had a client who was president of a home building company who was bothered by the idea of having a ghostwriter.
“I don’t know if this is right Henry, having you write these articles and then my name appearing on them,” he said.
I asked him how many homes he had built the previous year and he said more than 1,000.
“Your arms must be tired from all that hammering and painting,” I said.
The president said: “Don’t be silly. You know I didn’t personally build the homes.”
“No, you hired others to cause your vision to become reality,” I replied. “The same is true with these articles.”
How to hire and use ghostwriters is something we will discuss at my upcoming “Marketing With A Book Summit” on November 13-14, 2010 at the La Jolla Shores Hotel, right on the beach in this resort town of San Diego. Details are in the events section of the Web site.