Member Spotlight: Rob Swystun
How did you land your first book ghostwriting project?
I was fortuitous enough to have a long-term business relationship with a serial entrepreneur who I worked with for years, writing virtually everything for him. He wanted to put everything he had learned into a book about transitioning from a corporate employee to an entrepreneur. Since he and I had been working together for a long time already, I was the ideal writer for his project.
What has been your secret to building a steady stream of ghostwriting clients?
Establishing and maintaining those all-important business relationships and keeping my writing at a high level. (And joining the Association of Ghostwriters, of course.)
What do you wish clients understood about the ghostwriting process?
That the words you see on the page are a tiny sliver of the work that goes into a writing project. There are hours upon hours of research and planning that go into every project, and there are thousands of words that are written that never make it onto the page. Those are first drafts, unstructured freewriting to formulate ideas, and passages that are completed and then cut due to lack of space or disruption to the pacing, etc. For every hundred words you see on the page, there were probably two hundred others that were written, but not used for the final draft.
The writing process is not simply sitting and tapping out words. There is a whole other series of activities that it entails that you don’t get to see.
How would you describe your favorite type of project and client?
My favourite types of projects are ones where I am interested in the subject, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. With ghostwriting, you have some input into what subjects you write about, because you get to choose your projects, but you are limited by the book subjects that other people want to write about. So, it’s fantastic when someone wants to write a book about a subject I’m interested in and we can work together on that book.
As for clients, I appreciate when a client recognizes that hiring a ghostwriter means you are hiring an expert to perform a task that you are incapable of doing yourself. It’s no different than hiring a plumber or electrician to fix something in your house because you lack the necessary expertise to do it. Naturally, you step back and let the expert do their job because they know what they’re doing and you don’t. When clients recognize this, it makes the process of putting their thoughts into narrative form much easier. When you hire an expert, let that expert do the job you’ve hired them to do. Clients who get this are the best type of clients.
What are the best parts of this career?
Easily, the best part of being a ghostwriter is how much I get to learn. I’m a huge advocate for constant learning. No matter your age, you should never lose that hunger to learn new things, and in this profession you are constantly learning. And it’s not just surface level learning. If you are going to write a book about something, you have to dive deep into the subject. For me, I have learned so much about subjects that I would have never thought much about before. And, they’re almost always incredibly fascinating when you dig into them. If you love to learn, there is nothing better than being a ghostwriter, where you have to go from being completely ignorant to having expert-level knowledge about a given subject in a relatively short amount of time.
How can people reach you?
LinkedIn/Twitter/Instagram/Facebook: Search for my name.