From ghostwriting to writing as myself – Sophie Childs

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By Sophie Childs

From an early age, I always knew that I wanted to be a writer. I’d sew together pieces of paper to create my own books, and then I’d fill them with stories and pictures.♥

As a consequence, ghostwriting had a strong appeal for me. It struck me as a great way to hone my writing skills, while making a reasonable amount of money at the same time, as well as being an easier way to get your work in print, albeit under somebody else’s name. However, I had no idea how you broke into the industry.

Enter Elance. I discovered the freelancing site through a friend (sadly soon to disappear, following a merger with Odesk, now Upwork), and quickly won my first ghostwriting job. Over the next couple of years, I wrote a wide range of books for clients all over the world. I covered both fiction and non-fiction, writing about everything from subliminal messaging to Minecraft, the popular computer game, to romance.

With ghostwriting, the most important aspect is to make your client happy. If they want a book about time-travelling elephants from Mars, it doesn’t matter if you think that such a book won’t have an audience. You write the best possible book about time-travelling elephants from Mars and leave the marketing and promotion of the book to your clients. Taking the time to produce high-quality work with every job was a real learning curve, and helped me improve far more than writing novels for myself that would never see the time of day.

Being a ghostwriter means that you are guaranteed to be paid for your work, even though this payment may not be as much as you could earn from royalties on your own books. However, many self-published books do not make very much money, and as a ghostwriter, there is a good chance that my fee was higher than whatever my clients made.

With each book, I gained in confidence, so when my publishers, So Vain Books, offered me a contract, I jumped at the opportunity. Although the process of writing didn’t change, there was a definite challenge to writing something which would have my own name attached to it. This time, there would be no hiding behind a pseudonym, and although I like to look up my ghostwritten work on Amazon, where I attract consistently high reviews, there was something about having a book with my name on it that made these reviews means so much more.

Now I’m hard at work on a second novel for So Vain Books, and although I still have ghostwriting clients, my goal is to move increasingly into my own material, so that within the next year or so, I am writing purely for myself. I have learned so much from ghostwriting, not just in terms of creating compelling stories, but also about marketing and self-promotion, and I really feel that those lessons have been invaluable and will stand me in good stead in the future.

Whatever direction my career takes, the past couple of years have proven to me that I can earn a full-time salary writing part-time around my family. I’m proud to be able to say that I am both a writer and a ghostwriter.

Sophie Childs is a home-educating mother of five who spent five long years working in offices, something she’s very grateful for in hindsight due to the rich source of inspiration her nightmare bosses proved to be. Now a full-time freelance writer, she lives in the Welsh valleys with her husband and a veritable menagerie of children. Behind the Scenes is her first novel.

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