You have Enough Friends. The Client is Not One of Them
The closet doors have been thrown open and the ghostwriters are coming out into the sunshine.
The Gathering of the Ghosts, the first-ever conference of about 150 ghostwriters from around the world, assembled some of the top professional in the field with younger writers who sought an entry into the formerly secretive world of ghostwriting Hosted by Gotham Ghostwriters, the one-day conference in New York City certainly inspired me to take more pride in ghostwriting as a profession worthy of coming into the light after decades of operating largely in the shadows. The conference has inspired me to share nine tips for ghostwriting success. This is the first of nine posts.
Tip Number 1
The Client is Not Your Friend
It’s good to be friendly with your client, but actively resist the pull to act like friends. And the pull will be there. It’s easy for both the client and the ghost to become confused.
When the ghostwriting relationship works well, it is often quite intimate. It looks like friendship. The client is sharing his or her most private thoughts. It’s normal for the client to develop feelings of kinship for you and you'll often share the same warm fuzzies. All that is human and even beneficial.
Be a professional. Remember that you have entered into a professional relationship. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you've transcended the professional relationship. It’s always detrimental to the project when you do. It’s about clear boundaries. Proper business relationships have a beginning and an end. Your first allegiance is to the task at hand. That’s what they are paying for you. Remember: real friends don’t get paid.
When clients ask me to socialize or blur the boundaries, I tell them that once the book is finished I’ll be glad to socialize with them. Vague promises are made to do just that. I can report that former clients never issue invitations once the project is over. Not ever. Once the book is finished, clients regard the ghostwriter in the same way they regard the caterer when a sucessful dinner party is finished. Good memories of a successful collaboration and a willingess to be a reference. And that’s the way it should be.
Coming Up. Tip Number 2. If You Don’t See Books, Watch Out