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Starting Ghost Writing Business

By Cathy Wilson

"What kind of writing do you do?" people ask me when I tell them I'm a

"Empowerment writing," I say. "I help people write their books just as they’d do it themselves, if they had the time and skill."

In my business, Editing Etc., I offer ghost-writing, research, editing and rewriting. Twenty-five years ago, I began by working with clients in alternative health, and over the years I’ve done every kind of project you can imagine: business, computer manuals, novels, self-help, finances, cooking, marketing, art, nutrition–you name it.

"Everybody's got a book inside," I always say, "and every business needs a book." I charge $35 an hour, and so far I don't advertise but get my clients by word of mouth. To give you some perspective on fees, on the national market, this type of work usually is paid $50-100 per hour, but

I don’t mind charging somewhat less than the national average.

I taught high-school English before I got married, and during the first two years of my marriage, I got an M.A. in American Literature with an emphasis in writing. I taught college English till I had too many children to do that anymore, and then I stayed him with my kids and started Editing Etc. When I got divorced, I expanded the business to support my family, and even when I remarried, I have continued this excellent business working with clients all over the country. Over the years as I birthed, nursed and educated my nine kids (take a breath), I did my business on the side. Now that the children are older, I occasionally teach English at our local college and run Editing Etc virtually full-time.

To get clients, I talk to people wherever I go. I have contacted people in local businesses that require educational materials and pick up work that way. I also just talk to people; standing in line at the bank, I strike up a conversation and sometimes come away with a manuscript to edit. I am serious when I say that almost everyone has a book inside. It is important for people to write their books! And that can help you build a good writing and editing business for yourself. I often joke: as soon as I mention my Editing Etc., people open their desk drawers and pull out a manuscript. Often people want to barter for my work, but unless it's something I really want and need, I work for pay. My strength is that I am intuitive, accurate, and quick, so people feel they've really gotten their money's worth.

When I need to do research, I start with the Internet, and sometimes that's as far as I need to go. For further material, I use the college library (a nice excuse to go to the library).

Now that all my kids are in school, I have all day to work. If I’ve got a big project going, I will sometimes take my little laptop and camp out at the library so I can work uninterrupted. It's amazing how much work you can get done when there are no distractions.

If a mom at home wants to edit and ghost-write, my advice would be to read a lot and assimilate different writing styles. Get quick on the keyboard and on the Internet, so when you need information you can get it quickly. Write your own stuff every day, to keep the words flowing. Then it's a matter of marketing——which, in my case, has just meant friendly visits. You could also include a listing in the local phone book (a friend of mine pulls in a lot of business that way) and a web page (another friend gets a LOT of business that way, although I notice that there are multitudinous freelance writers on the Internet).

Good luck!

Cathy Wilson
Editing Etc.
1400 West 2060 North
Helper UT 84526

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