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annehart

annehart

How would you like to be a celebrity or medical ghostwriter?

There are two types of medical writing or ghostwriting

 

There's writing of medical trials and/or scientific writing for journals and then there's marketing writing for advertising copy, public relations, media news releases, and sales data about pharmaceuticals, products, services, and medical devices. Whether you choose a career in ghostwriting or writing under your own byline as a medical journalist, when you think of finding a job as a writer, think about what materials you will develop in areas such as medical marketing or science and health writing for popular periodicals, medical economics and business publications, infomercials, newsletters, websites, preparing training materials, or writing articles, copy, or abstracts for professional journals.

 

How would you like to earn up to, or perhaps even $100,000 annually as a medical or other specialty ghostwriter? Another alternative is the celebrity book ghostwriter. Here is some information about what training you might need to help you specialize in regulatory or marketing writing. You don’t necessarily need a degree in science to earn six figures as a ghostwriter. What you do need is to focus or specialize in one subject or area of expertise so that you can develop a platform of expertise as a ghostwriter in one or two specialties.

 

Develop your research and platform of experience and exposure to a subject in-depth in one area, whether it is writing life story books with celebrities, writing books with medical experts, scientists, or technology inventors, artists, business executives and entrepreneurs, or anyone else who can afford to have his or her public relations manager hire a book author to write a book with the expert. The person with whom you're writing the book is the subject expert.

 

You would be the writing professional who knows how to organize, research, plan, and write the book as well as edit and revise the work before it is sent to a publisher, agent, producer, or literary attorney for auction, publication or other type sale, for example, to a producer. Some life story books of celebrities or other famous people once published, then become movies or documentaries. Sometimes attorneys or others involved in popular court tries also have an agent or publicist hire a ghostwriter to write a book with a famous or infamous client.

If you choose medical ghostwriting, you’d be writing pharmaceutical reports or informational books about research and clinical trials performed by scientists, physicians, and researchers. You could work with pharmaceutical firms, medical software manufacturers, or for public relations firms or literary agents.

You’d be making a lot more than the usual $10,000 a ghostwriter may receive for writing a career development how-to book. Medical ghostwriters can receive up to $20,000 per report. Pharmaceutical and clinical trials reports or medical journal articles often are written by ghostwriters. Ghostwriting medical or other factual information is big business. It’s one way pharmaceutical manufacturers communicate with physicians.

If you want to ghostwrite in this field, get paid to investigate information physicians receive about medicines and interview researchers, you can take the roads leading to steadier writing jobs, document management, or run your own business as a medical, business, or celebrity ghostwriter. Here is the training you need to begin if you enjoy journalism with an attitude.

 

How Much to Charge for Ghostwriting

© by Anne Hart, 2006.

The two biggest problems ghostwriters contend with is paring down redundancy-repetition in a speech, book, or article and inconsistencies in memoirs and novels and listening with an 'ear' for how the ghostwritten work portrays the 'voice' of resilience (point of view and style) of the non-silent author. You're hired to write and eliminate redundancy. Most ghostwriters are paid to microedit a manuscript.

You also must play editor and organize similar topics that have to be grouped together. You must check for indents and other spacing problems such as too many "hard returns" on the keyboard, tab spacing, spelling errors, word usage, and grammar inconsistencies in the notes or recorded voice of a professional or entrepreneur. Other times a ghostwriter is hired to write an entire book, booklet, speech, or article from scratch based on recorded interviews.

You're paid to be highly creative and down-to-earth factual, stable and under control. Your writing must be animated, not flat, and you have to satisfy your client's wishes as to how the book sounds to the outside world. You must follow directions and yet be visionary, be charismatic in print, and promote what your client is offering with facts that can be checked for credibility. You represent your client's reputation and career.

The client, also called the primary author most likely has an agent and a publisher, but needs a silent co-author-a ghostwriter-whose name will never appear on the book to partner on a book-to-book or project-to-project basis. A literary agent or a celebrity's manager may be the person most likely to ask you to ghostwrite a book. Sometimes, a physician, nutritionist, traveler, executive, entrepreneur, video producer, or any type of scientist may seek out a medical ghostwriter.

You may be contacted by someone who has been in the news, or a politician. Usually, though, you'll have to let others know you're a ghostwriter because you'll be invisible.

Steady work in ghostwriting usually comes from medical ghostwriting for physicians, pharmaceutical firms, and biomedical scientists. Medical ghostwriters may write articles and advertising copy that appear in medical journals, regulatory articles about clinical trials, or medical marketing and continuing education materials. All kinds of ghostwriters deal with macroediting and microediting issues and need to manage these issues. Microediting is selective editing. It is similar to your writing and editing being examined under a microscope to check for confusing sentences, weak points, flawed arguments, inconsistencies, and bad logic, errors in math, spacing, and correction of tables.

 

Microediting is editing or revising and improving the clarity of the details and proofreading for typos and grammar errors

In microediting, you need to validate and edit the item showing any changes from start to finish. You'd need to include historical information at micro-level. In order to find the historical information, for example, of a study from start to finish with applications and outcomes, you need to look at periodic surveys.

 

For a great definition of microediting, macroediting, and copy editing, look at the American Medical Writers Association site on the definition of microediting and macroediting and copyediting. The definition/explanation appears in the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Journal, Volume 15, No. 4, page 19, Fall 2000.

 

Macroediting is editing the big picture such as checking for consistency and parallelism. Do topics belong in the same series?

Most of what you'll do in general ghostwriting is macroediting. You'd need to check for parallelism. You'd have to make sure various elements are parallel if they belong in the same series.

You'd make a list of graphs, figures, or tables. You'd check words for verb tense to make sure there were no inconsistencies or changes, and explain unfamiliar words. Copyediting of biomedical material consists of correcting language, format, and mechanical style to meet publication standards. You'd be required to do "substantive editing" and proofreading of your work at take charge of it by managing the editing process.

Most ghostwriters don't only write the life stories of celebrities, corporate case histories and success stories, current events, or the rise and fall of executives and politicians. The majority of ghostwriters write books for health care professionals, scientists, or attorneys.

Biomedical ghostwriters use a particular style that makes the text unique to medical information, such as continuing education materials, advertising, or clinical trials and regulatory reports. You can teach yourself the stylistics of editing by reading the work of other medical writers who consistently produce good work.

There are principles of editing medial text and books on this subject to read. Start with the American Medical Association's AMA Manual of Style. Look for readability scales and grammar. Analyze medical text books and reports. You can form or join a medical writing critique group. If there's none nearby, create your own online. What you're looking for is to learn how to identify grammar and rhetoric while examining the trends in medical writing related to the standards of what is acceptable.

Medical writing has its own standards of what is correct. You need to understand what information you require and locate the sources. Then you should evaluate what information you find by searching medical, business, and government regulatory sources.

Medical and pharmaceutical marketing ghostwriters don't necessarily need to have majored in a life science. A sizable number of specialty marketing ghostwriters come from the ranks of English or journalism majors that enroll for a master's degree or certificate in medical writing and ask for an internship as a medical ghostwriter.

The fastest way to begin is to open your own ghostwriting business as a freelancer and outsource medical ghostwriters to work for you that already have experience in a specialty. You can run a temporary ghostwriting service hiring those with the experience you don't have to take temporary assignments in regulatory or marketing ghostwriting. You can also learn by practicing the type of writing your clients are doing.

 

Celebrity ghostwriting

 

If you want to ghostwrite books with celebrities, check out the public relations agencies and services that ask celebrities to write books about their life story highlights and specific experiences. Start by contacting public relations agency owners who deal mostly with celebrities. They often have requests to write how-to books by the celebrities they represent. With experience, you can move on to writing the memoirs of entertainers or other celebrities in the news.


Begin Ghostwriting By Contacting Owners of Public Relations Agencies with Celebrity Clients

 

Public relations agencies that publish books with information about celebrities are a good start for beginning ghostwriters trying to break in. The first book assignments you get may be writing how-to books on careers for celebrity clients or other publicists working for a larger agency. The next hurdle is writing the memoirs of celebrities.

Ghostwriters may be chosen from a team or pool of writers who specialize in biographies of entertainers or other figures in the news. You may be hired to write speeches, books, booklets, articles, annual business reports, scripts, multimedia presentations, learning materials, news releases, and more for professionals, publishers, and corporate executives.

What might you expect to hear as a ghostwriter from the author with whom you are partnered for a project? There are lots of humorous situations you'll find when ghostwriting.

Below is an example of a humorous conversational example sent to me as email from one ghostwriter who has asked to be listed as anonymous.

Hi Anne!

A few horror stories…

Me: So in the proposal, you have a chapter called Creative Resilience. Could you tell me something about that?

Expert: Well, when we need to be resilient, it's important to get creative.
(long pause…)

Me: Do you have anything to add to that?
Expert: Um, not really.

Me: Sooo...this would be more of a sentence than a chapter?
Expert: Yeah, I think so.

Another funny one…

The expert who had her elderly father who she said was "really smart" faxed me his scribbled and cryptic notes on the meaning of life, and asked me if that could be "worked into the book somewhere." When I asked her to give me her thoughts on what he had written (as I couldn't make heads or tails out of it), she had none.
Same expert asked one of her friends to write a "corrected" version of a Buddhist-type teaching story I had put in her book at her bequest. You see, the friend knew I got it "wrong" because she'd seen it on CSI or some show like that a few weeks before. (I found 4 versions on the Internet)...

Same expert had to write a chapter on a particular subject and asked me to go to the bookstore and see what other people had written so she could get some ideas on what she wanted to say in her book of advice to the masses.
Q. Most ghostwriters are invisible. Here's the chance to write about what you enjoy most about ghostwriting. What's the most important lesson you've learned from life as a ghostwriter?

1. Don't get involved if there is no time to write it and way too much money involved, even if your cut of the advance is a big one. The pressure of time and a ridiculously large advance will fall on YOU, unfair though it may be. You'll be expected to work miracles overnight.

2. If you can't get the expert to give you SPECIFIC ideas that would work as bullet points under each of his chapter ideas in the proposal, it doesn't matter if everyone is over the moon about the proposal. YOU judge the proposal, and YOU find out what the expert's main ideas are. If they're awfully fuzzy, listen to your instincts and say "no."

3. Do not do a minute's worth of work until the check to you has cleared. Period. No excuses. It's not your problem that the author's contract with the publisher has been held up, or that the agency can't front you the money for your first payment, and that the author is sooooo strapped for money this month. Let them find someone else to do it, if they can't pay you from the moment you begin work, forget them.

4. Be very careful about plagiarism. Experts who are not writers are prone to accidentally plagiarizing from the Internet or from other authors. If it doesn't sound like they wrote it, they probably didn't.

5. When the agent and editor say they want you to capture the expert's "voice," they don't mean his actual voice, they mean the voice he would ideally have given what their flap copy has to say about him. Throw in his catchphrases to make it sound like "him," but the actual voice should not sound like how he actually talks or, god forbid, writes.

6. Ask the expert why he wants a ghostwriter. If it's being imposed upon him by the publisher and you sense he has airs about being an author, RUN.

Q. How Much Do You Charge?

Usually, it's a flat fee. Sometimes, I've done deals where the flat fee is based on a certain number of my hours at my hourly rate, and the author and I work together to estimate the time needed and we communicate when I'm running short or long, and in the end, they pay me according to my actual hours. If I'm short, they may "bank" their hours for use on the next project (this is only for clients who write multiple books with me).

I have not yet written speeches or booklets or brochures. Once, I did ghost an article for a book I'd edited. I've never worked with a PR agency. I've ghosted books by professionals and a semi-celebrity.

#

How Much to Charge Depends upon What Your Client Will Pay for Visibility


You have the choice to charge by a day rate or by the word. Corporate ghostwriting usually offers you a flat fee or hourly amount. If your manuscript goes through several iterations (revisions) before approved by a group, a corporation, or even one person, you'll get more money charging an hourly amount. Be sure to specify in your contract that you'll be paid an hourly amount for each revision of your manuscript.

Ghostwriters are outsiders brought into a corporation or nonprofit agency to present favorable images and words. You are either looked upon by a company as an outsider who might make more trouble than you are worth because you haven't been an insider long enough.

Or you're looked upon as a connecting bridge. The bridge is there to convince, promote, and represent the company's image, reliability, and credibility to the world. You're there to connect the outside world to what benefits the company offers. Using words and images, you share meaning. You communicate. And you are paid according to the results the company gets from your words.

Ghostwriting White Papers and Annual Reports

In a corporate setting you'll be ghostwriting annual reports and "white papers" for an executive, committee, or group. You'll also be ghostwriting articles and perhaps speeches, presentations, or scripts for slide shows and training videos. Articles and white papers usually offer you pay based on a per-word basis.

When ghostwriting sales letters, charge by the hour. Direct mail marketing and other types of sales letters may be ghostwritten for advertising agencies and marketing firms. In an advertising agency or marketing corporation, you probably will be paid by the day for ghostwriting. If you're experienced, the current rate is about $500 to $600 per day. At this high-end rate, you'll be coming into an office and working under supervision so your hours can be clocked.

Rates: Ghostwriting Speeches

Doing corporate work requires negotiation on contracts. If you know more about the business or product that the managers, you can negotiate on a per-day fee basis. Corporate ghostwriting often requires speech writing. The current rate for experienced corporate speechwriters is about $1,000 per day to write a five-minute speech.

At the $1,000 per day rate, make sure there is no fluff, unnecessary, or distracting words in your speech. A five-minute speech must pack in the most important points the corporation wants to make about a product, service, or situation.

How to Evaluate Your Ghostwritten Speech

Read your speech aloud and record it. Play it back and listen how it sounds to the ear. Ask several listeners to give you feedback before you cut and revise. What you're looking for is not only effective words but the cadence and rhythm of the speech. Listen to what you write by reading it aloud and playing it back several times. Is it smooth and consistent?

Your goal is efficacy. Pare the words to bare bones. Look for impact. Keep sentences short and simple. Use two-sentence paragraphs. Here are 20 pointers to consider before ghostwriting speeches.

Rates: Ghostwriting Corporate Web Pages

When writing corporate Web pages, you become a "content writer" charging by the hour. The current rate is about $100 per hour. Rates vary tremendously with the size of the corporation, the geographic location, and your experience.

If you work an eight-hour day at $100 an hour, billing $800 a day is expected. Let the managers know what you'll bill for an eight-hour day if the project will take you eight hours. Short word count items such as Web pages, sales letters, news releases, or brief feature articles allow you to invoice your employers by the hour. Most short projects require several revisions and lots of rewriting before they are approved. Of course, rates will change with the passing years. Research what the current rates for freelance and staff medical writers and/or ghostwriters are in your area in the various specialties and niches before you begin.

Medical, science, or technical writers can specialize in regulatory or marketing writing

How would you like to earn perhaps $100,000 annually as a medical or other specialty ghostwriter? You don’t necessarily need a degree in science to earn six figures as a ghostwriter. What you do need is to focus or specialize in one subject or area of expertise.

If you choose medical ghostwriting, you’d be writing pharmaceutical reports or informational books about research and clinical trials performed by scientists, physicians, and researchers. You could work with pharmaceutical firms, medical software manufacturers, or for public relations firms or literary agents.

You’d be making a lot more than the usual $10,000 a ghostwriter may receive for writing a career development how-to book. Medical ghostwriters can receive up to $20,000 per report. Pharmaceutical and clinical trials reports or medical journal articles often are written by ghostwriters. Ghostwriting medical or other factual information is big business. It’s one way pharmaceutical manufacturers communicate with physicians.

If you want to ghostwrite in this field, get paid to investigate information physicians receive about medicines and interview researchers, you can take the roads leading to steadier writing jobs, document management, or run your own business as a medical, business, or celebrity ghostwriter. Here is the training you need to begin if you enjoy journalism with an attitude. You may wish to check out my book: 101 Ways to Find Six-Figure Medical or Popular Ghostwriting Jobs & Clients: A Step-by-Step Guide. Published November 12, 2006.