Why You Can’t Afford Me. (It’s a Good Thing.)

Judy Katz of GhostbookstersJust about twelve years ago I made a major transition, and closed the midtown Manhattan offices of my Public Relations firm. Through running a sizeable business and the day to day drama of dealing with my staff’s personal issues, I had essentially become everyone’s Jewish mother. As a result I could not do as much actual writing as I would have loved to do. When I took this leap of faith I made two critical decisions:  First–by transitioning to ghostwriting I could do what I love: use my writing skills to help people become successful authors, then help them get published,then use my public relations skills to promote their book.

The second decision: I would not be bound by what others charged, but would instead charge what I thought I was worth. My fees were considerably higher than many other writers. But, given my many years of experience as an award-winning, in-demand writer (for magazine articles, speeches, blogs, brochures and other promotional material), I thought my asking price was justified.

At first this did seem like a foolish decision: many of the would-be authors I met were unable to pay my fees and instead wanted me to work solely for the back-end. In other words, they expected me to write their book or book proposal, reach out to get them a literary agent, who would  negotiate a large advance for the book and ancillary rights,  do promotion to make their book a New York Times bestseller (and perhaps a blockbuster motion picture) and then share a percentage of the profits.  Well, we are all delusional to some extent, but these arrangements would have had me living in a refrigerator box on the cold hard streets of Manhattan. Read more

Borrowing Time: A Love Story

heart of loveI thought the Rabbi was kidding.

“You want to introduce me to a 98-year-old who wants to date?”

“No,” he said, “I want to introduce you to a 98-year-old who would be open to getting remarried!”

“Won’t his adult children object?”

“Not at all. They want him to be happy. In fact, his son came to ask me if I knew anyone exceptional.”

At 75, I was still youthful, cheerful and happily engaged in running my business. However, I was at a point where online dating had led me to a string of men who continued to disappoint me. I began to think maybe the sun had set on my romantic life. Then I met Jerome.

Before our first get-acquainted date he had to cancel because he had a bad cold, “But,” he said on my answering machine, “We will always have mañana.” And, for a time, it seemed as if we just might. His positive attitude, his brilliance, his wisdom, his warmth, his charm, captivated me completely. Read more

If Nobody’s Reading, Why Bother Writing a Book?

Look, you do not have to write a book.  You can live your entire professional life without a book to your name, and the sky will not fall.  All I can tell you is that being able to add “author” to your list of accomplishments, being able to mail a copy of your book to people you want to work with or impress, and being able to give out or sell your book at events (which your book helped you book!) can move your business or professional reputation to another level–from good to great.

If you counter that fewer people are reading, that they are buying fewer books, that they are getting their information and entertainment from television, from cable, from social media, and especially  directly  from their electronic devices,  you’ll get no argument from me.  None of that takes away from my opening points:  your book is the ultimate marketing tool. It opens doors.  It establishes you as an expert.  Even if the target CEO or client just reads the front cover and turns it over to read the back cover–with  its (hopefully )explosive lift quote and positive blurbs–you will have made an impact.  And,  whether they skim it or read your book word for word, they will see you differently. Read more

Get Started Writing a Book

Having trouble getting started writing a book?

Give It Up to the Ghost!

Do you have an area of expertise and a story to tell?  Do you want to write a book but something keeps getting the way?  That something, typically, can be time, and money or maybe an inability to wordsmith your way to a compelling telling of your tale.   My advice: stop stalling!  Like most things in life, you only have to “do it alone” if you choose to.

Some people do actually sit down and write that book themselves, be it a memoir, novel, play, poetry, short stories, young adult/children’s book or business book. Maybe they write to help enhance their reputation and raise their rates, or anything else they deem worthy of precious time and hard-earned money.  However, others find another way to accomplish their objective of becoming an author: they intelligently seek out the very best collaborator—by asking other authors for references, doing online research and vetting the kind of writer they believe will best serve their needs.

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How to Find a Ghostwriter

What’s a would-be author to do? Does he or she just Google “ghostwriter” or “book collaborator?”

A personal introduction is best, as in all things. But just as the family or friends intro or blind date has gone the way of the dinosaur, as Match.com and eHarmony.com now fill the breach, more people are entrusting their books to strangers and hoping for the best.

I suggest that you talk to the potential scribe, tell that person what you’re up to, and see what kind of feedback he or she gives you. Have them send you their books, or buy and actually read them. Meet the person—that’s a must. Ask for a list of references and call them. Ask their clients questions such as—Did your writer bring your project in on time and within budget? Where there any surprises, good or bad? How was he or she to work with? How did well your book do for you? How much did the writer charge? Yes, ghostwriters are expensive, though their prices can vary depending on whether you want And here are few tips for managing your relationship with your ghostwriter:

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