Ghostwriting basics that work for me

The first question in a ghostwriting deal will always send you back to the grocery store- how much? Quote a well- thought out skimmed figure and the person will invariably blink and then will start an array of bargaining tactics.

· Hmmm…but what is your hourly rate?
· I will give you more work.
· And my all-time favorite- It’s just words…..

Why am I telling you this disgusting fact about writing for others- coz you have to learn to accept it and move on. Don’t get offended. No matter how much you try and cloak it, writing for somebody else is a business transaction. It means- everyone involved wants to minimize the costs and increase the profits. The answers to all of them are quite simple if you just stop pulling your hair and crying out about creative value. Just practice THE SMILE.

Everyone has their own criteria for deciding on a project. Over time I have chiseled out the following points that help me decide whether or not the project is worth my while. I am sure that some years hence I will add or delete some more- but they will do for now.

The content:

The content should be comprehensible to me. Projects which talk profusely of subjects like math’s and physics are the ones I would gladly miss! Plus the content should interest me for I will have to deal with it for hours, days and weeks. I changed tracks in my career to do something I like not something that makes me want to go back into my quilt and forgo my day (my old job was good enough for that). If the content doesn’t excite you, you will never write it well enough and that niggling doubt spoils the feeling of finishing a project.

The availability of the content:
The content generally comes from two sources- the client or research. Many times it’s a combination of both. The research can be within the confines of Google or through a book/books. The time it will take to get those facts and figures is an important consideration. If it comes solely from the client then you should do a test check to see how good that person is at disseminating his/her information and how critical he/ she is when you submit the test draft. A nit-picky one can make your life hell if you have to rely solely on him for the information. Beware! (such a client is better forgotten than mourned over)

The time period:

I am a freelancer for a reason. I love feeling that I own the day and don’t have to rush at someone’s bidding. Of course it is a lie but one that I prefer to believe even when I run to complete my work, send my kid to school and make sure my house runs perfectly. Combining work-from-home-mom with creative writing is a task and takes up a lot of time. Thus the time period is extremely important to me; most of the times I inform my clients of impending school holidays and schedule them in my work life. Kids are prone to illnesses too and so I prefer work that doesn’t scream down my back the minute it starts. A small project that gives me at least 2-3 days breathing time is fine, while I juggle my day around. I am trying out the co-working option too. It is surely better than work-from-home for moms for they can be out of the house but not too far and can schedule their days well.
Check your calendar and only then say yes, for a late delivery will spoil your rapport and sully your image. It can also spoil the trust in the client bond. This brings us to our next point.

The trust factor with the client

I like trusting people and have sometimes trusted beyond their ability to respond. It takes time to build a rapport with a client and some might do it within days while some will still talk like a stranger even after you have gone through a few projects with them. Gauge and understand your clients for they are human too and sometimes a good rapport will decrease stress costs (for me)- for a smile is priceless. Bah!
But seriously, it is better writing for a person who you like/understand than one who makes you grind your coffee into pulp and reach for tranquilizers after every delivery.

The learning offered

This is an important factor for me, in deciding the cost and I have put it last for a reason as many projects don’t offer this opportunity. I have sometimes gone in at cut-rate prices just because the project offered to teach me something new. I am always ready to learn and enhance my writing skills. Any project that offers to take me beyond my known abilities invariably finds me ready to take the plunge. It also gives me a new skill to master and add to my resume.

These are the essential points that I see while deciding on the project and the price. I usually take the market rate and then put in these factors to decide when to stand back and politely let the client take himself and his project out of my door or when to sign on the contract and notch up one more for myself.

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