Adam Reger | Pittsburgh Writer, Editor, and Teacher

Pittsburgh writer, editor, ghostwriter, and teacher.

Month: January, 2018

Ghostwriting: Questions Before You Get Started

Ghost Image

This is the third installment in a series of blog entries about ghostwriting. I’m attempting to provide practical information for those who may be considering hiring a ghostwriter. The series started with some misconceptions about ghostwriting and continued with a rundown of the different ways you might work with a ghostwriter.

Today I want to cover how to prepare to work with a ghostwriter. I sort of covered this in my last post, on the different ways a ghostwriter might work—it was certainly my hope that looking through that list of methods might spark some readers to say, “Yes, that is definitely how I’d prefer to work with someone.” Figuring that out is a big part of the battle.

But mostly I want to move beyond the question of how you’ll get the ghostwriter the information they need to think about ways to identify what’s important to you and get at least a general picture of your book that you can communicate to the ghostwriter. Below is a list of questions and concerns to think about before you reach out to a ghostwriter. If you have even the beginnings of ideas on these topics, your ghostwriter will definitely appreciate it.

Where will this book go in the bookstore?

For now (and hopefully forever) the metaphor of a brick-and-mortar bookstore is still relevant. As long as it is, I ask clients Where would your book appear in a bookstore?

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On Rejection

For anyone who writes and seeks to publish their work, rejection is just a fact of life. Many times I’ve started entries like this one decrying how hard it is to get anything published, from a short short story to a novel. Thankfully, I’ve deleted most of them.

Being in a sunnier mood at the moment, I thought I’d offer some more positive thoughts on rejection, trying to put it into perspective.

A reality check, though: being “positive” really just means better coming to grips with what is a very grim reality. Two object lessons that will quantify that grimness:

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 11.06.26 AM

This is a screen shot from my Duotrope account, which (among other things) tracks submissions. It indicates that of the 31 submissions I’ve sent out over the past 12 months, I have a 4.2% acceptance rate.

Terrible, right? My work must be pretty bad, right? Actually, if you check out the note at the very bottom of this image, you will see that that pathetic 4.2% represents a better than average response rate (from the journals to which I submitted). So much so, Duotrope is congratulating me!

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Ghostwriting: How does it work?

Ghostwriter 2This is the second installment of a brief series of blog posts relating to ghostwriting. In the first installment, I looked at some common misconceptions about ghostwriting.

In today’s post, I want to dive deeper into a question that can be a bit of a sticking point for many people who are thinking of hiring a ghostwriter.

“How does it work?”

Once you’ve found a ghostwriter and you’re ready to get started . . . well, how do you get started?

There are three main ways that a ghostwriter works with his or her clients. In my experience, writing a book for a client is typically a mix of these three methods, and very rarely is just a single method employed.

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Favorite Books of 2017

I keep a running list of the books I read, with stars beside the books I really like.

I read fewer books than usual this year, for a wonderful reason: my wife and I had a baby at the end of April and she has taken up a lot of my time. (And she is welcome to it.) While she is napping, I thought I’d jot down a list of the books that I read in 2017 that I liked best.

Anyway, here are my favorite books from this year, separated into novels, story collections, and “other” (which in actual practice means graphic novels and an autobiography).

Novels:

To Walk the Night by William Sloane (one of two novels in The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror, put out by NYRB Classics.)

Jernigan by David Gates

The Hunter by Richard Stark

Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler

Inverted World by Christopher Priest

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Norwood by Charles Portis

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes

A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr (I have read this one every summer for the last three or four years)

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

 

Story Collections:

Ship Fever by Andrea Barrett

Battle Born by Claire Vaye Watkins

Sweet Talk by Stephanie Vaughn

People Like You by Margaret Malone

If I Loved You I Would Tell You This by Robin Black

All That Man Is by David Szalay (arguably a novel in stories)

For the Relief of Unbearable Urges by Nathan Englander

 

“Other”:

From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell (graphic novel)

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (also a graphic novel)

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

*

Looking over this list, I’d give special attention and recommendation to My Favorite Thing Is Monsters and All That Man Is. I mean, they’re all great, but these were two that amazed me and inspired me as a fiction writer, respectively.

Honorable mention, because I started it around Christmas and will be working on it another week or so, and because it is both amazing and inspiring, is Annie Proulx’s Barkskins.

Ghostwriting: Some Common Misconceptions

Ghostwriter imageOver the next couple weeks, I’m going to be posting some blog pieces covering a part of my career portfolio that I rarely write about: ghostwriting. I have been working as a ghostwriter for the last seven or so years, but due to the nature of the business I have rarely mentioned it here on my blog.

That’s mainly because by nature it’s a fairly secretive process: A ghostwriter is contracted to write a book for someone else, and that person’s name goes on the cover. That’s the deal, with all that it entails: As a ghostwriter, I don’t share credit, my name is never mentioned, and the “author” (my client) proceeds as if he or she wrote the book, from start to finish.

If you look at my ghostwriting page, there aren’t any titles mentioned or links to books. Part of what my clients purchase is my discretion. This can make it hard to market yourself as a ghostwriter, but what would make it really hard is a reputation of blabbing about writing clients’ books. So I keep my silence.

Common Misconceptions About Ghostwriting

In this installment, I am going to look at some misconceptions and points of confusion that I encounter frequently when I talk to people about ghostwriting. My hope is that this might be read by someone bouncing around the internet, trying to decide whether a ghostwriter is what they need for their project. Clearing up some of these misconceptions would make an excellent starting point regardless of the nature of your project.

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