Ghostwriting can be a lucrative business if you know how and where to look for work. According to Marcia Layton Turner, founder and executive director of the Association of Ghostwriters, there are plenty of opportunities for ghostwriting work, and she has some advice for how to find it.
Approach Acquisitions Editors or Literary Agents
An author's book editor or literary agent often finds and suggests a ghostwriter. This happens when the author has a solid platform or a great idea for a book, but he doesn't have the time or the skill to write it. Many seasoned ghostwriters tend to rely on editors and agents as sources of new business.
Look to the Source
Many potential ghostwriting clients are going the self-publishing route rather than signing with major publishers. For example, entrepreneurs who want to self-publish a book to market their businesses typically look for ghostwriters. Connect yourself with self-publishing services and gurus who might be in a position to recommend your services directly to authors.
Hobnob With Fellow Ghostwriters
Only inexperienced writers see colleagues as competition. The truth is that there's plenty of work to go around, and fellow ghostwriters can be an excellent source of work. Get to know them, pay attention to their specialties, and tell them about yours. Then send projects their way if they aren’t right for you.
The more work you refer elsewhere, the more likely you are to be on the receiving end of referrals that are more in line with your interests and expertise. In other words, your "competition" will return the favor. You can find other ghostwriters through organizations and conferences.
Become Affiliated With an Agency
You might affiliate yourself with an agency if you're an established author with good credentials. An agency takes a commission for not only connecting ghostwriters with authors, but for managing the author-ghostwriter relationship. They'll establish contractual parameters, and negotiate and manage the payments.
Agencies tend to vet their ghostwriters fairly strictly. For example, Gotham Ghostwriters in New York City generally works with high-profile clients, and they screen their writers accordingly.
Expand Your Market
Writing books and book proposals account for a large portion of ghostwriting projects, but they're not the only works that use ghostwriting services. They're not the only available source of ghostwriting income.
Ghostwriters are also hired to write blogs, craft tweets and Facebook posts, and otherwise manage social media accounts. They write white papers, articles, and speeches—even memos and correspondence. Anything that someone else might be asked to write can be ghostwritten.
Reach out to marketing firms or public relations agencies for non-book projects.
Leverage Your Previous Experience
This is especially true if you're an established writer breaking into ghostwriting. Without actual ghostwriting experience, you can show you might be right for a ghostwriting job because of your writing skill plus your in-depth knowledge of a market or your extensive social media expertise.
Make Yourself Visible
Don't forget to use good old-fashioned word of mouth, as well as your online and offline social networks. Make sure everyone knows you're a ghostwriter. That casual acquaintance from the PTA or the executive in line next to you in the deli might just be in need of someone to author her book or another project.
Marcia Layton Turner has authored, co-authored, or ghosted nearly 30 non-fiction books…and articles like this one. She currently earns the bulk of her income from ghostwriting books for entrepreneurs and senior executives and is the founder and executive director of the Association of Ghostwriters.