Tips for Collaborating with the Client as a Ghostwriter

When working as a ghostwriter, you will find that every client is a little bit different. You will love working with some, and maybe detest others. The important thing is to remember that it is a job and you need to put professionalism, not personality, at the top of your list of priorities.

There are several effective ways to collaborate with a client which can lead to a successful project everyone will be delighted with. Here are some points to bear in mind.

1. The Client Comes First

The client is setting the work, and has a vision of what they want the project to be like upon completion. You can certainly make suggestions you think might improve the final product, but you should not be pushy and impose your will.

2. It?s the Client?s Voice, Not Yours

It?s important to try to capture the personality of the person you are writing for. You have to put your ego and voice aside to adapt to theirs. If you are writing for a business owner, you need to write in an appropriately professional manner in most cases. If you are working on something autobiographical for a celebrity, it is essential to try to capture who they are as a person.

3. Treat Everything You Are Told or Given as Confidential

Some clients will make you sign a non-disclosure agreement, and/or a non-compete agreement that states you won?t use the material provided for any other project. Even if they do not ask you to sign the documents, treat everything to do with the project with the utmost confidentiality. And if you are not sure if the information you find should be used in the final product, ask.

4. Stay in Touch Regularly

For short projects, this will not usually be an issue. For longer project, you might wish to clear the work with your client a chapter at a time, for example, and send them email updates about the progress of the work so they can see you are working purposefully towards a deadline.

5. Try to Mesh Your Communication Styles

Some people love the phone, others email, and still others text. If you hate the phone because the ringing distracts you from your work, suggest email. But do remember that email is not always 100% reliable, so you might mutually agree that a phone call is in order if there is something urgent. Be flexible in relation to the needs of your client, but don?t get bogged down. More on that below.

6. Avoid Getting Bogged Down

Some clients are more demanding than others and can really eat into your working time with lots of small questions, changes, and so on. Consider setting up formal review sessions of no more than 30 minutes to go over chapters and discuss any matters arising.

7. Beware of Scope Creep

Sometimes you will start a project and then the client will begin asking if you can add things to it. The two main reasons to say no are time and money. You?re already locked into a contract and a deadline. You can only be successful as a ghostwriter if you turn around projects promptly, get paid, and get good reviews.

If the client really feels strongly about the new items they are requesting, the best option would be to renegotiate the contract.

8. Anticipate What Could Go Wrong, and Try to Protect against It

We all want to be reliable professionals, but sometimes bad health or other major life issues get in the way. For longer projects, set milestones of deliverables. Also set an out clause if it is truly impossible for you to complete the work.

In most cases, clients are willing to be flexible about deadlines as long as they are kept informed, so at the first hint of trouble, advise them and see what they wish. If they want you to stop, hand over all the work you have completed and request payment on a pro-rata basis in relation to what the total price of the contract would have been.

Tom Ofori

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