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Technical writers are the ultimate ghostwriters – their names do not appear on any of the documents they write. They never get personal credit or byline for any of the things they write. In that sense, the idea of writing books for others and help them publish under their own names is not a concept totally new to technical communicators.
It is true that most ghostwriting involves a writing style more appropriate for copy and creative writing but think about “B2B non-fiction” or “business communications.” That is the ideal “middle ground” where you can mix up your technical and copy writing skills easily to create a new stream of income.
Here is a scenario for you:
Let’s say you are writing a user manual for Widget Corporation. You hear that the company is also keen to market its good name and drum up some publicity. Why not offer the owner of the company to write a Company History? Imagine: “Widget Corporation: the Story of How the First Widget Ever Was Discovered” …
Or how about offering to write the autobiography of the owner? There’s nothing better than a book to establish the writer’s credibility and authority (the owner, in this case) or to steer the public’s attention to a particular cause, company or person.
Think about it: how many times did you watch someone appearing on a TV show because she has a new book published? Or someone appearing as a guest on a radio talk show with nothing more than a book in hand?
There are an infinite number of topics on which you can offer your services as a ghostwriter but company histories and biographies (which are of course published as an “autobiography”) are the two of the most popular ones.
However, there are two issues though that you should be careful about before offering a ghostwriting project to anyone:
1) CONFIDENTIALITY — Ghostwriting requires a high level of confidentiality. The other party will be disclosing things to you, usually inadvertently, that might create problems if appeared in print. So you should have the sound judgment to know what to include and what not to. Don’t forget: this is not your story. It’s THEIR story. If you feel that you cannot write the story for which you were hired, then you should not be in ghostwriting business to start with. Ghost writing is a platform to help your client shine. It’s not a platform for self aggrandizement. You should be ready to honor the nature and terms of this very specific kind of engagement before you begin to type in even the first word.
2) TIME — Ghostwriting requires an extensive time commitment. A typical ghostwritten biography, for example, requires at least 25 to 30 hours of interview time. If either you or your client is not ready to put in that kind of commitment, do not accept a ghostwriting book assignment. But smaller projects, like an article or a web page, would of course require less time.
Don’t let that ghost of a second stream of income pass you by. Grab it today by offering your services as a ghostwriter.
Also see: Medical Ghost-Writing Scandal
Here is a good ebook to read on this topic: “Make $100,000 a Year as a Freelance Ghostwriter”