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Why is Your Ghostwriting Career a Failure?

ghostwriting failureLots of ghostwriting businesses fail. In fact, I’d say the majority of ghostwriters in the market today don’t make enough money to pay rent, let alone buy the things they need. This is tragic, but you have to realize that there are probably solid reasons why your ghostwriting career is a failure.

The good news? There is no time like the presence to turn it around. Even if you’ve never completed a project successfully, there isn’t a prophesy that says you can’t enjoy a successful ghostwriting career from now on. Of course, you’ll actually have to work hard toward that goal.

Rather than telling you how to start a successful ghostwriting career, I think I’ll outline the key reasons why most ghostwriters become failures. Avoiding these pitfalls might make a significant difference in how you proceed.

1- You Make Promises You Can’t Keep

Every once in a while, I stumble across a ghostwriter’s web site that makes all kinds of claims, from publication guarantees to promises of satisfaction. Those claims might sound great on paper, but what can you do to back them up?

Absolutely nothing.

Ghostwriting is really no different from the publishing business in that everyone has different tastes. What works for one client will cause another to turn his nose up in the air. You don’t have any control over what gets published and what doesn’t, so stop saying that you do.

In today’s marketplace, you need to create a positive reputation. This means adopting an honest, forthright approach to business, even if the truth doesn’t sound quite as impressive. If you lie to your clients, they’re finding someone else.

I don’t advocate any guarantees in a ghostwriting business. If you promise your clients they will like what you write, you’re giving them an excuse to demand a refund, and you’re communicating to clients that you have to make guarantees in order to attract business.

A better approach is to require that clients pay you for all work completed. You can submit the project chapters at a time for approval, and give them the option of cancelling the project if they aren’t satisfied. However, don’t get to the end of a 300-page manuscript and discover that your client wants all his money back.

Similarly, don’t promise your clients that their manuscript will be accepted for literary representation or publication. You have absolutely no control over this, and if the work isn’t published, you might have to return the money you were paid.

2- You Aren’t Visible

Creating a web site is a great start for your ghostwriting career, but it isn’t enough. Your clients are looking all over the Internet for potential ghostwriters for their manuscripts, so you need to be visible in places where they congregate.

Just last week, a man contacted me through Classmates.com, where I’d set up a profile several years previously. He was impressed by a few of my articles I’d written and wanted me to ghost his manuscript. Do you see what I mean? Clients will find you just about anywhere, but you need to give them a chance.

Set up profiles on social networking sites, write articles for reputable publications, start a blog, contribute to writer’s forums—the list goes on.

You should also make sure that your contact information is prominently displayed on all of your Internet profiles. Give clients a chance to get in touch with you, and they will.

3- You Aren’t Good Enough

Someone had to say it, right? Unfortunately, all the marketing and PR in the world isn’t going to help your ghostwriting career if you aren’t a top-notch writer to begin with. There are so many ghostwriting services on the market that your clients have a generous selection from which to choose. If your work doesn’t impress, they’re going somewhere else.

I hate to say it, but some people just aren’t cut out for the ghostwriting business. I read the blogs and web sites of so-called professionals all the time, and find grammar mistakes and sloppy prose. Your clients might not be writers themselves, but they recognize talent (or non-talent, as the case may be.)

Your job is to continually improve your writing skills. Take classes at your local community college, read articles like this one, keep a journal so you stay in practice, and try publishing some of your own work. If you can’t cut it as a writer, you won’t make it as a ghostwriter either.

Improve Your Chances

If you avoid the mistakes listed above, you’ll find yourself heads and tails above the competition. Most of the ghostwriters out there are completely clueless about this industry. However, you have to continually work to improve your skills and increase your visibility. If you aren’t working on a project for a client, you should be working on yourself.

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