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Writing: Love of the Craft
Creativity Coaching : David Duggins : Ghostwriting

Love of the Craft

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

By David Duggins

Q. I've heard that ghostwriting is a good way for writers to make a living, but I've also heard that writers who "ghost" books don't get recognition for their work.

That depends on how you define the terms "recognition" and "work." The profession is severely misunderstood, conjuring images of minimally talented hacks slaving away under sweatshop conditions, turning out book after spiritless book to appease the bloated egos of Fortune 500 CEOs, movie stars, and other assorted eccentrics who wish they could write but can't.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The folks I spoke with were professionals — previously published, with substantial credits of their own — employed by professionals, writing to deadline every day of their working lives to meet the demands of high-profile clients with marketable stories worth telling.

And they are drawn to their jobs by the same force that compels us all: passion.

Larry Leichman, 30-year veteran ghostwriter and co-founder of Arbor Books, discovered writing and theater in high school and college. "But I really got my start in my late teens," he says. After landing a summer internship at a major city agency in New York, Leichman was promptly "adopted" by two women in the Public Affairs office. "They saw this eager but raw kid, and turned me into their protegee." Trained and seasoned, Lichemann found himself writing speeches — for the Mayor of New York City. Two mayors, in fact.

Ghostwriter Eric Shapiro published his first book in 2002, sent hundreds of resumes to writing and editing companies, worked steadily and entered a partnership with Michael McKown to form Ghostwriters Central, where he has written for six years in a variety of areas, gaining experience as a writer and partner.

Sara King, Project Manager at Penn Group, works with writers and in-house staff, serving as a "human switchboard" for connecting people with common interests. She has a journalism background, seating her in the "expert" section next to Leichman and Shapiro.

I invited these three seasoned vets to a little round-table discussion about the art and craft of ghostwriting, and they gave me more than I asked for.

They're the experts. I asked the questions, kept my mouth shut, and listened.

This is what I learned. ...

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