Don’t Be Afraid of a Ghost(writer) Part 2: Who Owns the Work?

In our first look at the misconceptions surrounding ghostwriters, we discussed voice. If someone else writes your work, will it sound like your voice? Short answer: yes.

So now that we know the work sounds like you, we need to know, does it actually belong to you?

No matter what you hire a ghostwriter to write for you, anything from a photo caption to an entire book, once you have paid for it, the work belongs to you. You are considered the author. These are your ideas, insights, and experiences expressed in your voice.

Legally, ghostwriters do not own the content they create. When I work for you as a ghostwriter, I go into the relationship with the understanding that I cannot claim credit for your work.

And that’s okay. That’s the whole point of working with a ghostwriter. I’m here to free up the ideas in your head and get them onto paper. Perhaps writing isn’t your “thing” or maybe you simply don’t have the time. All you need is a little help with the technical aspects of the writing. The ideas are all yours, and they remain so throughout the entire process.

So don’t worry about someone else taking ownership of your ideas: they are yours, and a ghostwriter cannot take them away from you.

Ready to learn more? Let’s talk. Reach out to me at sue@suetoth.com for your free 30-minute book consultation.

Coming next: The ethics of ghostwriting.

Don’t Be Afraid of a Ghost(Writer)

Part One: Whose Voice Is It, Anyway?

Most people are naturally scared of ghosts. Unfortunately, some businesspeople are naturally scared of ghostwriters as well. Are you?

Some professionals think:

  1. If I use a ghostwriter, will the work sound like mine?
  2. If someone ghostwrites my material, is it my work or theirs?
  3. Is using a ghostwriter ethical?

Believe me when I tell you, there is no need to be scared of ghosts. Ghostwriting is an excellent way for you as a business professional to get your story out there for the world to see. Your followers will see your expertise, you’ll position yourself as an expert in your industry—all with the help of someone who writes in your voice! What could be better?

Over the next several weeks, we are going to examine some of the most common misconceptions of ghostwriting in more detail. Once you’ve read these, you’ll never be afraid of ghostwriting again!

Are you ready? Here comes the number one misconception.

Ghostwriters get paid to write for you.

This is untrue. As a ghostwriter, I don’t write FOR you, I write AS you. You could ask me to put together a book about your business philosophy, and I could probably study you and learn about you online and do just that. But it wouldn’t be YOUR work.

Instead, if I’m going to write AS you, I’m going to get to know you. We go through a process of interviews together. I ask all kinds of questions, and I learn all about what makes you tick. I record these interviews so that I can listen to them over and over again. The more I listen, the more I learn about you. Perhaps a certain expression that you like to use comes out a lot. Or your ideas about a particular subject become very clear. If I’m going to write about your business philosophy, I need to know you, and why this philosophy is so pertinent to your success.

In other words, I’m writing in your voice. When this piece is finished, you won’t believe that you didn’t write it yourself, because it will sound exactly like you would write or speak.

Ready to learn more? Let’s talk. Reach out to me at sue@suetoth.com and we’ll set up some time to talk.

Coming Next: Who owns the material a ghostwriter writes?

 

You CAN Write a Book!


Okay, so you’ve made the decision. You want to write a book. You know you need to write a book. It’s been floating around in your head for a long time, and you know all of the good things that will happen to you and your business if you write a book (and if you don’t, check out this blog post to find out what they are).

Yeah, this is great! I’m going to be a published author! My book is going to be out in six months! These are your thoughts as you sit down at your computer, all ready to get started.

A day later, you have your first two sentences…okay, so maybe nine months, you think. Maybe this is going to take a little longer than I thought.

When a week has passed, and you only have the first page of your book done, you start to think that maybe this book idea isn’t such a great one anyway. Why do I really need this? What was I thinking, that I could write a book?

You’ve got book paralysis. It’s a completely normal reaction to the idea of writing a book, and fortunately, it’s very curable. You don’t have to stare at a blank computer screen.

A book doesn’t have to start completely from scratch. Let’s look at some other ways you can get started:

  1. Blog posts: Do you have blog posts on your website? Why not take them and turn them into the start of a book? You can organize them into chapters and fill in the blanks where needed.
  2. Articles: Have you written articles for industry publications? These can also be the start of a great book.
  3. Work with a writer or book coach: This is a great way to get your book to come from a dream in your head to a reality on paper. A book coach can help you to get your thoughts out, provide you with a writing schedule, set time to work with you on a weekly or monthly basis, and provide encouragement.

A ghostwriter can work with you by interviewing you and pulling your thoughts out of you. The book is yours because the ideas are yours. It’s just that you’re getting the help you need to get your ideas out of your head and onto the paper.

See, it’s not so hard. And it can be done in that six-month time frame that you had at the beginning of the project.

Are you ready to get that book started? Are you ready to make your dreams of being an author come true? Let me help. Let’s get together and talk about sending you on your way to authorship glory. Reach out to me at sue@suetoth.com and we’ll get started!

How to Get People to Actually Read Your Blog

Every time you sit down to write a blog or e-newsletter, you feel like you’re walking into a torture chamber. You spend valuable time each week or month agonizing over the “right” words for your piece. So, is it working for you? Is your blog getting you a loyal following? Are you getting phone calls, emails, or most importantly, clients as a result of your blog? If not, you’re doing it wrong. Here’s how to make sure your blog is actually working for you.

  1. Do you know who you’re talking to? WHO do you want to share your voice with–the exact person who needs to hear what you have to say? Create a message that’s relevant to only them. That’s when they will pay attention.
  2. Are you helping your readers take action? Organize your piece so it is easier for your readers to take those actions.  If you want them to sign up for your newsletter, make it easy for them to do that with a sign-up box in your blog. If you want them to call you, make sure your phone number is in a prominent place and is a clickable link for when people are using a mobile device to find you.
  3. Are you getting their attention? Humans have an extremely short attention span. Your headline has to grab them immediately or else they will not read further. Your headline also has to be great for Twitter or Facebook.
  4. Will they care? This is not about you. Let me repeat: this is NOT about you! Write content that your readers will care about. It has to be relevant to their needs, and talking about yourself isn’t relevant. What can you do for them? How can you solve their problems? That’s where your content needs to go.
  5. Are you committed to your blog or e-newsletter? You need to get on a schedule. This is how you build a following. If you start writing on the first of every month, your readers will start looking for your content on the first of the month. If you suddenly skip a month or two, your readers will wonder where you went. They may go elsewhere to find content if they can’t find yours. Get on a schedule and keep to it.
  6. Are you engaging with your readers? Do you get comments on your piece? If so, reply to them! Make sure that readers know that there is a real person behind the writing. A simple thank you to a compliment will go a long way toward developing loyal followers. If you’re not getting comments, you need to ask for them! Ask a question or two, or invite readers to share a story or a solution to a problem. This will invite comments, and then you can respond.
  1. Are you paying attention? You’ll want to use analytics to learn about the health of your blog or newsletter. These are free services. Get them and use them!

Do you need help starting or maintaining your blog or e-newsletter? Call me. I can help. Contact me at sue@suetoth.com or call me at 973-362-5382 and we’ll get started.

Why You Need a Proofreader

How many times have you read something—a book for pleasure or copy for a website—and found an error? Maybe it’s something minor, but still, it’s an error. Of course, no one is perfect, and mistakes are going to happen, but even the smallest goof can cause big problems. Mistakes in your content can hurt your credibility and cost you money. Here’s how:

  1. Let’s say you put a new product up on your website that sells for $1,000. You’ve worked long and hard to get this product to market, and it’s finally out there for the world to see! Your phone is ringing off the hook with orders! But wait—why is everyone so upset when you tell them the price? You look at your site, and find that the price for the product is listed as $100, not $1,000. Oops…now what? It’s a minor error that will end up costing you big.

OR…This same new $1,000 product is up on your site, and you’re getting absolutely no calls. What the heck? You know it’s a great product that will solve a lot of problems for your customers. Why is no one biting? Again, you peek at the website, only to find it’s been listed as $10,000. Oh boy…no wonder no one is calling! Again, lots of money in potential sales lost because of a proofreading error.

  1. You’ve just opened a new restaurant. Your website is ready to go, with mouth-watering photos of your best dishes, your menu, your hour—you’re all set to tantalize diners. But, at the top of the home page, the headline reads: “Come visit us at the XYZ Restaurnat.” What? What’s that word? It’s only two letters transposed, but it’s the first thing that visitors see when they come to your page. It might not seem like a big deal, but it could be. If you don’t take good care of something as basic as your website, what else are you neglecting?

What if you’re an author with a great book? It’s a terrific story, one you’ve worked on for months, and it’s finally ready to share. You can’t wait to see the reviews! You dive into Amazon or GoodReads, and see a two-star review with this comment: “Great story, but the errors drove me nuts.” Or “I really wish this author had someone proofread this before it was released.”

Don’t leave your money, credibility, or reputation on the table because of errors in your content. If you’re looking for help with your proofreading, let’s talk. I can help. You can reach me here.

So You Want to Write a Book…

You’re a business expert. You know your stuff in your chosen industry. You’ve had years of experience. Why not share your knowledge with potential clients? There’s no better way to do that than to write a book. Here are just a few ways a book can help you:

  1. A book will position you as an expert in your field. You’ve spent years learning all the ins and outs of your industry, and you’ve become a success. Why not let others know that? Sharing your knowledge will let your clients—and potential clients—know that you are a thought leader in your field. What better way to inspire confidence from those who are thinking of hiring you?
  2. You can use a book as a business card. Think about it. How many business cards have you saved? They get stuffed in a briefcase or jacket pocket, only to be forgotten about. That’s not going to happen with a book. When you leave prospects with a book, it will stay on their desk, and they will refer to it when they have a question. Again, you’re the expert, and you won’t be forgotten!
  3. Your book can get you great business perks. Looking for speaking engagements, publicity, more customers? Use your book to put you on the fast track to all of these exciting opportunities.

This all sounds wonderful, you’re thinking. But I don’t like to write! And I don’t really have time to write a whole book! Here are a couple of hints to help you get started:

  1. Start with an outline. Make notes about your area of expertise, Think about all the things you do in a day. Then decide what would best help your clients, and put that material into an outline.
  2. Look back at other written material you have. Blogs, e-newsletters, articles, etc. that you’ve written in the past can be the start of a book.
  3. Work with a professional writer. If you’re completely stumped as to how to get that book out of your head and onto the page, a professional can work with your ideas and do the writing for you.

Are you ready to get started on your book? Let’s talk. I can work with you to put together a well-written, error-free, professional piece of work. Contact me at 973-362-5382 or sue@suetoth.com and we can get started.

Can a Calendar Cure Writers’ Block?

You use a calendar to keep all of your important appointments, right? Doctors, dentists, date night, kids’ pick-ups? You’d be lost without your calendar. Why not keep a calendar of important events or news in your industry. Then, when it’s time to write your blog or newsletter, you’ll have your ideas all ready to go! Say goodbye to writers’ block with an editorial calendar!

How does an editorial calendar work? It’s simple, really. You can Google Editorial Calendar and find a template, or you can simply use a sheet of paper or an Excel spreadsheet.

The important thing is what goes on the calendar. This is where that thinking cap that sits on your top shelf collecting dust comes in handy. Put it on, and think about your business and industry.

  • Are there important events that happen weekly, monthly, annually? Put them on the calendar.
  • Are there times of year when things happen that your readers need to know about? Put them on the calendar.

You get the picture. Anything that is important in your industry should be on the calendar, so you can write about it.

So how do you put this into practice? Let’s pick a business…how about an auto mechanic? What might a six-month editorial calendar for such a business look like?

June: Get your car ready for summer

July: What to do if your car overheats

August: Fuel economy and your car’s air conditioner

September: Prepping your car for winter

October: Watch out for those slippery wet leaves

November: What do to when your car hits an ice patch

Now you have all this great information at your fingertips. When it’t time to sit down and write, the idea is right there waiting for you.

Need help getting started? Reach out to me here. I can help!

How to Make Commas Cool

comma

 

In addition to my editing and writing work, I also teach writing skills classes to college students. It’s a pretty basic course, and covers all the things that they learned back in grade school, most of which have been long forgotten, if they were even paid attention to in the first place.

A recent lesson was on the use of commas. Since the semester is nearly over, it’s getting increasingly difficult to get through to the students and actually get them to care about things like correct usage of commas. I tried the standard “Let’s eat grandma,” which got a few chuckles, but I still didn’t feel like it drove the point home well enough. And then I remembered THIS article.

It has to do with a woman who fought a parking ticket and won. The reason she won was because the wording in an ordinance was unclear due to a missing comma! That did it! I guess it gives new meaning to the saying that money talks!

Read the full article here.

What do you think? Are commas a problem for you? If you need help with commas, or any other writing issues, feel free to reach out at the contact form here, and I can help get you through the tough stuff.

Your Website and Your Credibility

It goes without saying in today’s technological society that nearly everyone uses the Internet to search for information they want. Looking for a house painter? Google it. Looking for a good book to read? Try Goodreads or Amazon. Want to know what time that movie you’ve been dying to see is playing? You can check that out online as well. While everyone is talking about how important it is that your website be mobile-friendly—and it’s true that your website must be mobile-friendly—there’s one other important element your website needs. And that is to be correct.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Of course it should be correct. That doesn’t just mean that the information should be right. That also goes without saying. It also means that everything should be spelled correctly, sentences should be structured properly, subjects and verbs should agree in all sentences, and each sentence should end with proper punctuation.

Think about it. Would you consider eating at a restaurant that couldn’t properly spell the name of the town it is located in on its site? Would you hire a tutoring company with a sentence like this on their site: “We will helps your student gain understanding…” Probably not, right?

What you say on your website has a direct effect on your credibility. Remember that whatever product or service your website offers, your aim is to be looked upon as the expert at that thing. Whether it’s the best restaurant, the best house painter, whatever it is, you want to be seen as the authority in that area. Mistakes on your site can easily turn off potential customers, because they may not think you are the best at what you do if you don’t take the time to read your own content and make sure it is correct.

Look carefully at your website. Is it saying what you want it to say? Is it correct? Does it make sense? Look at it as if you were a potential client. Would you buy what you are selling based on your site’s content?

If you need help updating your website copy, contact me about my current web editing special at 973-362-5382 or sue@suetoth.com.

 

Six Tips to Help You Find an Editor

You’ve worked and slaved and worried about everything from word count to character development to a compelling plot to a great ending. Now your book is done (you think), and the next step is editing. How do you find the right editor? There are so many out there, and it’s so hard to choose. Here are some tips for finding the right editor to work with you and your manuscript.
Continue reading Six Tips to Help You Find an Editor