Ghostwriter or Collaborator?

I keep seeing the same question pop up on message boards and writers’ groups around the web in various forms:

Should I look for a ghostwriter or a collaborator?

Should I work with my clients as a ghostwriter or collaborator?

Is there really any difference between ghostwriting and collaborating?

Oh, my, yes.

Collaborators tend to be accomplished writers and authors. They know how to make nonfiction prose sparkle. They know how to infuse life into characters and drama into a storyline. They know how to make a book saleable.

What they don’t know is how to keep all that out of their clients’ books.

It’s all a matter of investment.

Think about it for a moment. When a writer puts their name on a piece of work, they automatically become invested in that work. It’s unavoidable: no writer willingly attaches their name to something they’re not proud of. To make sure they’re proud of the work, then, a collaborator or co-author must make sure the work meets their personal standards. It has to say what it “should” say the way it “should” be said—especially if the collaborator has worked or written in the given nonfiction field or published their own novel(s).

How then, can a collaborator not become emotionally, psychologically, and, in so many co-author situations, financially invested in the project?

Ah, but it’s the author’s book: the author’s story, the author’s nonfiction research, the author’s concept or political spin or inspirational memoir or biographical exposé. It’s the author’s time to shine, the author’s moment to stand in the spotlight. In many cases, it’s the author’s one and only chance for that fifteen minutes of fame Andy Warhol promised us all.

Authors want their book to be them. All them. They’re entitled, after all, to their own pride of authorship.

And collaborators, experienced or not, want their bylines and the piece of the action they feel they’ve rightfully earned.

Hmmm—do you sense a potential for conflict?

Comparatively, ghostwriting is clean, quarrel-free, and invisible. Regardless of their own personal style, previous knowledge , or perspective on the book, ghostwriters work only with the author’s material. They don’t slant research toward their own agenda. They don’t insist on the book going one way if the author wants it to go another. They remain professionally separate  even while providing the emotional/psychological support aspiring authors need.

Ghostwriters make sure the book says what the author wants it to say, in the author’s voice and style, with the author’s intent and perspective. They are professionals, not partners. They provide editorial services for a negotiated fee on an agreed deadline.

When they don’t put their name on a book, it’s because it isn’t their book.

Ghostwriters invest only their time and expertise in a project no matter how much they like (or dislike) it, not their digestive tracts, their emotional stability, or their financial well being. Ghostwriters accept that their authors are experts in their nonfiction fields just as they are experts in the book business.

They understand that authors want to write the novel that’s been running in the back of their head for years or decades, not a “better” one based on their concept, setting, characters, or circumstances.

But what about all those ghostwriters who do put their names on their clients’ books and do take a percentage of their authors’ advance and royalties?

I cannot speak for them. The thought of taking credit for someone else’s ideas, research, or story is anathema to me. My business is based on fulfilling other people’s literary dreams.

I’m a professional ghostwriter.




Ghostwriter Certification Training

Yup, school starts soon, and so does the Fall term of Ghostwriter Certification Training.

I designed GCT help freelancers like you (and me) expand or launch your book-ghosting career. Why take the class? To gain:

  • A dynamic ghostwriting skill set not available anywhere else
  • The confidence to charge what you deserve
  • The marketing tools to find the clients who can afford you

As one of our grads put it:

“I’ve found that ignorance is far more expensive than education. Far more. Wish I would have known about GCT a year ago – I could have saved myself so much time and made so much more money.”  – Derek Lewis

The Fall term starts August 27. It’s an experience you’ll never forget or regret.

Get details and registration at, or call me toll-free at 1-800-641-3936.

What’s Going On

G’ Morning! I made a vow to myself to blog at least once a week. Unless I’m touched by inspiration, that blog is going to be a recap of what’s going on.

Wambtac’s summer schedule is out with  something for everyone: Level II workshops for Ghostwriter Certification Training grads, a quickie peek into how ghosts do fiction for novelists, even a clue-in for high school and community college students on how to write better papers. Details and registration are available at .

Also, have gotten some interesting feedback on my upcoming title release, Buh Bye, M.S.!  It’s the sweet, heartwarming story of how I went mano-a-mano with multiple sclerosis for 42 years until I  finally kicked its miserable, capricious, maggot-ridden butt out of my system for good.

We’re raising money for the initial print run, but you can order in advance (and help that fund-raising effort) by going to .

Strong language and irreverent descriptions. May be unsuitable for the fainthearted and politically correct. Spiritual guidance advised.

Finally, we’re getting ready to launch a new service: Book Plans. Every book needs its own strategy to get ready for market, get into the market, and get sold at market. Watch this space for news on this upcoming new, exciting, and effective individualized action plan.

Buh Bye, MS

Yes, you read that right. After 42 years, I got rid of multiple sclerosis. It’s gone, gone, gone. No long a resident in my corporeal mass. A thing of the past.

My cells are adjusting to life without its parasitic imprint. My bodily functions now operate according to Hoyle. My organs play nicely with all their fellow organs.

I have my hair back. I have my eyesight back. I have my sphincter control back. It’s all good.

“How did you do it?!” I hear you ask.

Funny you should ask. Being a writer, as we all are, I wrote a book about it. Not just how I did it, but how it attacked me, how I lived with it, and how I won, I won, na na na na na na, I won.

My daughter is raising funds for an initial print run.

Wanna help? Thanks; I knew you would. Go to and kick in a few bucks. She’ll appreciate it, I’ll appreciate it, and a few scads of people with MS who think there is no hope but to live on steroids for the rest of their lives will appreciate it.

You Published a Book!


If you want that title to sell, be it ebook or paperback, here are some things to consider before you sit back and wait for the orders to roll in:

  • Does your book have editorial accountability?
  • Into what categories does your title fall?
  • Have you developed your list of keywords?
  • What is your marketing strategy?
  • What is your promotional action plan?
  • Do you have a one-pager about the book? A fact sheet? A one-paragraph bio? A list of suggested questions for interviewers?
  • Do you have endorsement blurbs?
  • Do you know what “thought leader” or corporation to go to for sponsorship and have a plan for approaching them?
Ideally, you created these materials and plans before you published, but better late than never. If you need help, email me.
If I can’t help you, I know someone who can.

Check these out

A couple of links you might find interesting.

The first is Michael J Dowling’s White Paper on Publishing Options, in which he very clearly spells out the advantages and disadvantages of today’s publishing options. Check it out at:

The second is my discussion with JW Najarian about ghostwriters and ghostwriting on his quite fascinating “Cause and Effect” site. Look for it at:

What a great time to be in the book business!

Happy Holidays–Ready for Your New Career?

I want to wish you and yours a delightful holiday season and a healthy, prosperous 2012!

I also want to share a few special December opportunities with you.

You know ghostwriting is the hottest and most lucrative career path for today’s writer, so our first special is a Tuition Only Early Bird price cut for next semester’s Ghostwriter Certification Training.

You cover the cost of the class, we’ll cover the books, shipping, and any taxes. Go to or call 1-800-641-3936.

Don’t tarry — this special ends Dec. 23, 2011.

Our second special is the chance to help the other writers in your life. Our Holiday Gift Certificates come in denominations that cover an hour’s consultation ($350 value), a manuscript Analysis & Recommendations ($500 value), or the cost of Ghostwriter Certification Training–and yes, if you make the deadline, we’ll give you the Early Bird price. See for details and ordering.

Good writing to you today and always, and from my family to yours, have a most joyous and peaceful holiday season!

Claudia Suzanne

10 Basics in 9 Days

I’ve finally done it: scheduled the ultimate fiction workshop for novelists who need that extra punch to get their manuscripts taken seriously.

We’ll deal with those fundamentals that make up a novel — premise, plot, characters, construction — but from a perspective I pretty much guarantee you’ve never considered before. Want to know what’s great about your novel? I’ll teach you how to figure it out. Can’t figure out what’s keeping it from landing an agent or publisher? I’ll reveal the secret truths that turn insiders away from otherwise wonderful manuscripts.

Basic concepts, totally new ways of approaching them. You’ll never look at writing the same way again!

Check out my other blog at or go directly to for class details and registration. If all goes according to plan, students will receive a free copy of my latest ebook, Ghostwriters Guide to Successful Fiction.

Look forward to seeing you in class!

Passive Voice, Static Voice – What’s All the Fuss About?

As writers, we naturally write the way we write naturally. But readers can’t hear the cadence of the words playing out in our heads as our fingers fly across the keys. Readers’ minds merely decipher the little black marks on the page or the pixels on the screen. So “Mom was calling every week; Dad was emailing every day” cannot possibly convey the sense of urgency the author wants to impart because the reader can’t feel it—it’s over, it’s way in the past, it’s a “was.” It’s passive.

Ah, but suppose the line read: “Mom called every week; Dad emailed every day,” with no extra “it’s all over” verb standing between the doer and the deed? Now the reader feels the author’s irritation and can sympathize, snicker, or simply roll their eyes. It’s active.

And “static writing is …?” I hear you ask. Extra words, albeit not necessarily “to be” verbs, that stretch out the sentence or obfuscate its meaning. “I extracted a sample of both of their DNA from the inside of their mouths.”

The line is static: it has no life, it has no energy, it just relays flat, lifeless information. Maybe that’s okay for a textbook or dissertation, but for commercial writing? Ugh.

But suppose the line read: “I extracted DNA samples from inside both their mouths.” Doesn’t that sing a little sweeter? It provides the same information without holding the reader hostage for an extra six words and so pumps the material forward. It’s active.

And that, in 200 little words, is what the passive voice/static voice fuss is all about!

Want to learn more? Go to for information on how you can change your life, improve your writing, and pad your wallet by becoming a Certified Ghostwriter. Hurry! Classes start March 7th.

Claudia Suzanne
Ghostwriting Expert & Instructor

Why do I teach GCT?

That’s what one of my students asked me a couple week ago.

“It can’t make you much money,” she said. “Not for the amount of time and work you put in over the three months.”

She’s right; it doesn’t. I spend three hours a week teaching each class–in the fall, that’s going to go up to four hours/week. My students tell me they put in between 6 and 10 hours on their homework every week–homework that I then have to go over, comment on, discuss, and correct. If I add up everyone’s tuition and divide by the number of hours I put in, I’m making …

Damn little.

So why do I teach GCT? Not sure. Let me muse as I write.

If we go back to the beginning, I started teaching the basics of the book business and a little bit about ghostwriting back in 1993, I think. Maybe 1996. Don’t remember. My motive then was to pass on some information and sell my book, This Business of Books: A Complete Overview of the Industry from Concept through Sales, then in its 3rd Edition.

Maybe I was looking for referrals. Maybe I just wanted to share. I honestly cannot remember. But I found I enjoyed teaching. It was fun. It was stimulating. It was educational for me. And people paid me a little bit of money. A win/win.

Over the years, the class ebbed and flowed. I taught sometimes, didn’t the rest. Tried to put together Professional Book Writing School, but life got in my way. Remember, I spent over two decades struggling with serious health problems, which I have now, Baruch Ha’Shem, completely overcome. But during most of the past two decades, I was inconsistent and intermittent with my work habits, my clients, and my teaching.

Looking back, it’s amazing to me how much I managed to get done by just bulldozing through. When faced with allegedly insurmountable odds, some people take it easy, some people rely on the medical community, and some people give up. I just put my head down and worked. Not fast, not always well, but through the best and the worst of it, I worked.

And then I was facing the end.

It was 2000 and I had one of those “life-changing” episodes during a downward health spiral that told me I was coming to the end of my days. But I had a client! How could I transition to the next world and leave my client up in the air?  So I handed the client over to one of my interns and started pricing funerals.

I won’t keep you in suspense–I didn’t die. In fact, with the help of my beautiful sister-by-love, Bera Dordoni, N.D. (Bastis Foundation), I began the long journey back to perfect and total health. But it was an eye-opening experience and I realized I had to write a book. And so I did.

And I rewrote it.

And rewrote it.

And so and so forth and scooby dooby do.

The final edition of said book, Secrets of a Ghostwriter: World’s First Step-by-Step Guide to the Theory, Skills, and Politics of Ghostwriting, is at long last complete and exhaustively emended by five wonderful, nit-picky editors. And Ghostwriter Certification Training has evolved from a 5-week to a 7-week to a 14-week and soon to be 16-week program that details exactly what the job is, how to do the job, how to find aspiring authors to do the job for, and how to convert those authors into contracted clients.

Which may be the actual reason why I continue to teach GCT. After putting in all this time and effort to develop what Cora Foerstner called “the seminal text” on the subject and honing the program to the point that I’m confident it’s turning out skilled, competent ghostwriters, how can I stop?

But I warn you now: in fall, the price is going up. Because yeah–I don’t make enough money at this right now!