Ghostwriting especially for books relies as much on word prowess as on an ability to think like your client. Everyone has views and a writer has more for he/she wields the pen that finally writes it! But ghostwriting is different; it demands that the ghost be invisible, so the views, ideas and opinions that need to come across should be the client’s own.
It is not easy to stifle your thoughts and usually you don’t have to go in for extreme measures to do so for by the time you go through the process of deciding whether or not this project is for you, you invariably get a fair idea of what the client wants, thinks and opines. There are still a few things that will help in your transition from writing for yourself to writing on a specialized topic for a client.
1. Respect the client’s view
There is no getting around the fact that the book was and is the client’s idea. It should reflect his/her views and opinions. Of course the best thing about ghostwriting is that both of you get to pool in your thoughts, but don’t try to flavor it your way only. One of the best projects I worked on required me to understand human psychology. I have never read Freud or Jung, but am human enough to understand people. The specialist helped me see the various shades of the personalities and in some time I was able to give inputs, which most times met with approval. When they didn’t I bowed to his superior knowledge and worked on. Thus it is best to learn, modify and refine your views as you fine tune your project.
2. Choose subjects that you can understand or empathize with
Writing is a creative process and needs your attention and care. Subjects that don’t interest you one bit will show your lack of joy. I am not saying that you need to have a spiritual connect with the subject but it would be nice if you find it a tad bit interesting and worth thinking about.
3. Be ready to change your writing style
Every person has a way of expressing himself. Your client needs to be reflected to a certain degree in your writing. The best way to zero in on to a specific style is to first sit down and discuss the project with your client and then send a draft of the first two pages. That is more than enough to give the client an idea of your writing style. One client that I worked with liked my style used but thought some of the words were too high-brow for him, so I made a conscious effort to use smaller words. The thesaurus in Word can help you there. Another way to get the client into the book is to take notes while he/she talks about his subject, you will easily find words and phrases that your client uses to describe various events. These details will help you in flavoring the document in the client’s style.
4. Stop harping over points that you don’t agree with
Every situation has the potential of conflict especially when it involves more than one person. Creativity and a sense of language urges a writer in one direction, while a client might think more in the direction of things he/she has read or liked. Put your point forward, discuss its merits and let the client decide. If you feel too strongly you can suggest that the client show the two different versions to people whose judgment he/she trusts but remember to back down if the answer is No and keep the triumphant smile at bay if the answer is Yes.