The writer’s life can be a lonely, isolating one.
These days most writers work by themselves in home offices. There’s always a deadline looming or a page to be polished. We know we should get out more, exercise every day, meet friends, and attend professional meetings and conferences. But let’s be honest. Few of us convert these good intentions into practice.
In fact, the more successful we are, the harder it is to do the things we know we need to keep our sanity because success requires us to be in front of our keyboards even longer! When faced with a tough deadline, some of us retire to a cottage where we can focus on the task at hand, isolating ourselves even more.
When I feel isolated, sometimes the best solution I can come up with is to take my writing to a nearby coffee shop. We never talk to each other, but at least I can pretend to be productive among other people pretending to be productive. Anyway, I can pretend I’m in some sort of community.
For the past year, I’ve been part of such a community of fellow ghostwriters.
For the past year, five professional ghostwriters have prioritized a conference call on the last Wednesday of every month. In these calls, we share the ups and downs of our writing lives, celebrating our victories and lamenting our defeats. We explore various approaches to marketing, services, client management, contracts, pricing, and all the other details that most writers pretty much figure out by trial and error in isolation.
The group flowed out of Ghostwriter’s Unite, a conference for ghostwriters first held in Long Beach, CA in 2013. (By the way, the 2014 Ghostwriters Unite will be October 10-12 in Las Vegas.)
Derek Lewis, a ghostwriter in Prairieville, Louisiana, had the vision for the group and reached out to me and a few others. Besides me and Derek (America’s No. 1 business ghostwriter), the group’s membership includes Sally Collings (Ghostwriter, Co-writer, Extreme Editor), based in the Bay area, Latham Shinder (Memoir writer extraordinaire), based in Sherman, Texas, and Toni Robino (Windword Literary Services), based in Colorado.
As you can see, we are all over the place geographically. Our ghostwriting practices often focus on different genres. Toni Robino, for instance, is very successful in helping her client authors with their fiction. Latham and Derek work with memoir writers. I focus on executives who want to publish non-fiction business trade books. Sally has a track record in book proposals, chapter critiques, and editing.
So it’s extraordinary that despite being nominal competitors, a group of writers has created a high trust community. The group has been of real value to me. We have been candid in discussing our fee structures. We have shared our intellectual property agreements and disclosed how we responded to requests for proposals. We have started making referrals to each other when a client appears likely to be better served by another writer.
I look forward to our conference calls. Each call has a theme and a designated facilitator to keep the group on track. Recent themes included marketing, qualifying clients, types of IP agreements, and pricing. Some of our calls feature guest speakers. We’ve heard from a literary agent. Our last call featured guest speaker Oriana Leckert, Director of Operations at Gotham Ghostwriters, a service that many members of the group find invaluable.
I appreciate and trust every member of the group. I recommend these writers whenever I can.
The group makes this writer’s life just a little less isolated. It’s my hope that projects will come along that will allow me to collaborate with everyone in the group.