3 Steps to Getting Freelance Ghostwriting Jobs

Getting Your Work Published Without a Byline

Male sitting and writing in front of a freelance ghostwriter made of words, surrounded by airborne ideas

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It's unlikely that you'll find a good ghostwriting job on LinkedIn's job-posting site or any other digital job site for that matter. So, exactly how does an aspiring writer go about entering the business and getting the attention of a reputable publisher?

It might take some legwork but there are things you can do to get noticed and get published. As long as you realize and accept that ghostwriters rarely get a byline or even credit for their work, being a ghostwriter can be an interesting and pretty lucrative career.

The Advantages of Ghostwriting Jobs

Yes, there are obstacles to landing these jobs and the gigs are certainly not without their shortcomings. You might wonder if they're really worth it. What's in this for you?

Regular pay, for one thing. If you land with a publisher that wants to use your services on an ongoing basis, you could have a fairly consistent stream of work. Compare this to having to pitch every piece you write then keep your fingers crossed that someone will buy it...after you've already put in all the work. That's wasted time if you can't find a buyer. 

Ghostwriting can help you get your foot in the door if you're new to the publishing industry and just starting out. It provides what anyone entering any new field needs: experience. 

And if the reading public hates what you've produced? Not a problem. Ghostwriting offers anonymity. The publisher or named "writer" of the piece will take the rap, not you.

Think Before You Act

Think long and hard about whether this is the right career path for you. Without a byline, you'll end up with nothing to show for your efforts after you've completed the project—other than a paycheck, of course.

While this is certainly OK, make sure you're willing to work without having the validation of a clip to add to your portfolio. Rest assured that if you try to claim the work as your own, showing it off as an example of what you can do, your target will wonder why your name doesn't appear anywhere on the work. Why should he believe that it's really yours?

Do Your Research

Your second task is to educate yourself. There's no substitution for methodically doing your homework.

Make sure you have a thorough understanding of what each job is asking of you. Ideally, each will provide an outline before you accept the ghostwriting job so you'll know if it's something you want to be involved with...or not. You'll also want to explore the publisher's flexibility. Is it open to suggestions for improving on the outline or is it carved in stone? 

Go Where the Jobs Are 

It's important to know where the opportunities are. Generally, books in a series and books "penned" by famous people hold the most opportunity, but business websites are also a good source, particularly those of professional firms. They want copy and they want it to appear like someone within the firm wrote it. Snag enough of them and this can be a good ongoing source of income. 

Although job postings online might be few and far between, you might find a few posted on freelance writing job boards. These postings are a better bet than general interest job sites like indeed.com.

Be proactive and target publishers on your own. Don't be afraid to reach out with a letter of introduction or even try cold calling. You can find publishers through their associations like the American Book Packagers Association or the American Association of Publishers.

The Finishing Touch 

Like most freelance writing jobs, getting ghostwriting jobs is a matter of digging through the various postings, sending out killer introductory pitch letters, and cold calling the companies you want to work for. Assemble an attractive freelance writing package complete with a detailed resume, your best clips—preferably with your byline—and at least three professional references.