Member Spotlight: Alice Sullivan

How did you land your first book ghostwriting project?

In 2003, I was hired by Thomas Nelson Publishers (Now HarperCollins) to ghostwrite 2 books (for $1,250 each, I believe) for a speaker—by transcribing her events from cassette tapes on my Sony Walkman and then adding in new content. Before this, I’d graduated with an English minor in 2001, and had written for multiple magazines and blogs, as well as completed a 6-week contract job at a children’s publishing house, so I had some writing and editing experience already. 


What has been your secret to building a steady stream of ghostwriting clients?

A few things contribute to this. One is having a nice website with great SEO. Another is maintaining a network of other writers, editors, agents, and publishers who refer clients to me.

A few months back, I calculated how people find me, and it was around 20% through Reedsy, 40% referrals, and 40% through my website (presumably from a Google search). Because of that mix, I have between 8-13 new leads each month. Most aren’t a match, but I love to refer work to others who are a better fit.

I also work on at least 2 projects at the same time. I haven’t had much luck in delaying a client for a few months when they want to begin a project, so my schedule is largely determined by when a client finds me and is ready to start working together.


What do you wish clients understood about the ghostwriting process?

The writing process takes a lot of time and mental energy. Earlier in my career, I had a few clients ask me to write 2 chapters almost overnight and I had to explain that’s not how I do my best work. Now, I explain my writing process and timeline in the onboarding phase, so clients know when they’ll receive new chapters. I think this understanding also helps them gauge their own time requirements in the editing stages.

I also wish more clients knew how much I’m cheering for them and their story! I often feel like a counselor mixed with a cheerleader. My desire is for them to absolutely love their book, and for it to meet their goals, whatever they may be.


How would you describe your favorite type of project and client?

My favorite projects are those that teach me something completely new—either a perspective on a topic I’d never considered before, or a process for learning or healing I’ve never heard of before. And my favorite clients are the ones who are on time for calls, are genuine in conversation and transparent with emotions and details, and a joy to spend time with. It’s a bonus when they volunteer to be referrals for other potential clients! 


What are the best parts of this career?

The stories! I hear so many uplifting and incredible stories and get to meet wonderful people through this line of work.

I love that I can work from anywhere in the world, if there is Wi-Fi. I can choose my clients and focus on the topics I enjoy writing about. I can even choose my work hours and days (and weeks) off.

I also love that after 24 years in the business—the last 14 as a freelancer—I’ve achieved a level of financial abundance that I never dreamed existed when I worked in corporate publishing. I think 24-year-old me would be thrilled to see how life turned out for 44-year-old me. 


How can people reach you?

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