© 2011 Cecil Murphey
“You understand people,” an editor told me after I had published ten books, “And you know how to get into their heads.”
His words shocked me because I wasn’t aware that I did. He offered me a contract to ghostwrite the autobiography of a then-famous singer.
Ghostwriters, as the word implies, are invisible. Nothing in the book reflects them or their opinions. Before I said yes, I asked myself, “Can I write and not care if someone else gets the credit?”
A few publishers still don’t give the writer credit. If you read books by famous people (other than a writer), you can assume they hired ghostwriters. That means ghosts write a book and receive no credit or a brief acknowledgment. Some people can’t work under those circumstances.
What It Takes
Being a good ghostwriter is similar to excelling as a musician. It begins with a God-given gift but it takes discipline and commitment to make the gift practical.
It’s the ability to get into the head and heart of the other person. When readers put down the book they need to be able to say, “I understand that person.” Most people can write what the person did, but it’s difficult to feel and write the emotions of someone else. The subject needs to trust the writer. People sense when they’re safe to divulge their inmost thoughts to someone else. They often say, “I’ve never told anyone else but…”
Another quality is the ability to listen—uncritically. The writer’s opinions don’t show. The role isn’t to correct the author but only to write from the author’s perspective.
Another quality is the ability to intuit—to sense when there is a deeper level than what the person shares. For example, many times the person would give me an amazing insight and say, “I never thought of that until just now.”
Results of Being a Ghostwriter
Being a ghostwriter has enabled me to make a good living and earn more than I do from my own books. Today I’m called a collaborator (because my name appears in small letters under that of the author). Even though my name appears under Don Piper’s for 90 Minutes in Heaven and the three other books we’ve done together, people often don’t notice.
God gifted me to be a ghostwriter. I know that not just from the success of the books, but also from the sheer joy of what I do.
Veteran author Cecil (Cec) Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 120 books, including the New York Times’ bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold millions of copies and have brought hope and encouragement to countless readers around the world. For more information about Cecil Murphey, visit www.cecilmurphey.com. Great writing tips and advice can be found at www.cecwritertowriter.com.
© 2011 Cecil Murphey