Member Spotlight: Alice Kelly
How did you land your first book ghostwriting project?
A psychologist I had interviewed several times for articles called me one day and told me that the ghostwriter she’d worked with on her first book was not available for her second book. Would I be interested in taking on the project? The topic fascinated me, the psychologist and I had hit it off, the price was right, and I loved the idea of doing a book, so I said yes. It went really well, and we ended up doing several more projects together after that.
What has been your secret to building a steady stream of ghostwriting clients?
Unfortunately, there is no one single perfect way that I’ve found to connect with potential clients. My “secret” is to do a little bit of everything, in terms of marketing. I reach out regularly to agents and editors, blog about ghostwriting (although not as often as I should), connect with people on LinkedIn, reach out to book-worthy subject matter experts with a platform, and stay in touch with previous clients. And even with that, a lot of projects just kind of find me in ways I could never predict. Rather than stress about always having a book to work on, I fill in with other kinds of writing when I’m between books.
What do you wish you’d known about ghostwriting when you were first starting out?
It took me a while realize that I should say “no” to projects that weren’t a good fit. In the beginning I said “yes” to everything, even when my gut rumbled. I came to realize that rather than my default being “yes” unless there was a good reason to say “no,” my default should be “no” unless there was a good reason to say “yes.” It’s a subtle difference, but a meaningful one, because it sets the bar a little higher to get to yes. When I ghost a book, I’m living, breathing, and dreaming about it for 3-6 months, so I want to feel great about the topic, the author, the fee, and the workload.
How would you describe your favorite type of project and client?
My favorite kinds of books combine how-to information and advice with compelling stories. I did a business book recently that told the story of a successful executive with a long career, and what I enjoyed most about that book was that we used the narrative of his life to illustrate the lessons he had learned along the way. I’ve also written health books that include a doctor’s narrative, patient stories, and medical advice. I believe that combination of content is most useful/interesting for the reader, and it’s also the most enjoyable approach for me as a writer. As for my favorite clients, I love to work with people who are smart and nice, value good writing, and respect what I bring to the project as a writer and book expert.
What are the best parts of this career?
What I love best is the freedom it gives me. I started my career working office jobs for newspapers and magazines, and I felt so hemmed in. Once I started freelancing, I knew I could never go back to the 9-5 life. I still work long hours, but I can structure my time however I want. I can go kayaking in the morning and work late in the evening. I can pack up my computer and go work in an AirB&B in Miami or Napa or Scottsdale for a month. And I can take the day off on a sunny Wednesday and work on a rainy Saturday instead. I love that.
How can people reach you?
email@example.com or through my website, www.alicekelly.net.