A useful ghost conducts extensive interviews with an Author to learn their goals, missions, and personal vision. Who would they like to reach with their message—and why? What’s the end game? What’s their vision of the future after their book becomes widely read? In other words, how would they like to change the world? And how does the book or other project fit within that larger mission? Good ghosts write good books, but they also propel the Authors’ missions forward.
A good ghost studies the Author and the author’s realm, conducting extensive research and careful vetting of facts, memories, and impressions, to ensure that the message is clear, truthful, accurate, articulate, and above all valuable—meaningful—to a reader. This naturally includes necessary backup documentation (i.e. notes, citations, indexing, etc.) which can help protect both Author and Publisher from professional and legal wrangles.
Experienced ghosts understand that they have three masters:
1. The Author
2. The Reader
3. The Editor/Publisher/Agent… and in that order!
Nowhere in that scheme do we find the ghost’s particular predilections, peccadillos, wishes, interests, or concerns.
The unexceptional ghost is happy when he or she writes “The End,” and collects a check after delivering a “job.” The extraordinary ghost knows that publishing involves more than simply writing, and is prepared to work with Authors on all the other aspects of bringing their stories into the world. There can be no greater thrill for this rare breed of ghost than the midnight call from their Author, who, having read a sample chapter, proclaims, “Oh my God … how did you get in my head?!” Ghosting is a business, but when it’s done right it can also be an art.