When To Hire A Ghostwriter

When To Hire A Ghostwriter

The Writer’s Sherpa

South Carolina Writers Association member, Do you have a story stuck in your heart, but can't figure out how to write it? Click through to learn about ghostwriters and when one might be right for you!Melinda Copp, is a professional ghostwriter and editorial consultant.  Melinda is the owner and founder of The Writer’s Sherpa.  Like the Sherpas who guide mountain climbers to the crest of Mount Everest, Melinda guides her clients to their best, most compelling, completed manuscript.

Melinda sat down with me recently to talk about her work as a ghostwriter and editorial consultant.  Melinda’s career as a ghostwriter started serendipitously.  She and her husband were living on Hilton Head Island.  She had earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and was looking for a job at a newspaper.  This was around the time when newspapers were struggling to learn how to survive in an increasingly web-centric environment.  Her father saw an ad for an editorial assistant for a self-publishing company in the local newspaper.

Until Melinda took this job, she hadn’t heard of ghostwriting.  Over the course of the next two years, she wrote approximately 200 articles.

When she got pregnant with her first child, she opened her business, The Writer’s Sherpa. Since then, Melinda has ghostwritten twelve books.

When should I hire a ghostwriter?

ReginaMaeWrites GhostwriterWriting a sixty to eighty thousand word book is a significant investment of time.  Many of Melinda’s clients are professionals who are living their story on a daily basis and don’t have time to put the story on paper.  It may be time to hire a ghostwriter if you have a story that you need to tell, but you don’t have the time to write it.

Writing also takes a certain amount of skill.  Melinda has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing non-fiction.  It may be time to hire a ghostwriter if you don’t have the skill set to write a book by yourself.

How do I prepare to work with a ghostwriter?

Before hiring a ghostwriter, spend time thinking about your idea.  The clearer you are on the idea, the easier it will be to write it.  A good ghostwriter will take anything you have, rough ideas, notes, research, outlines, tape recordings, and organize them into a cohesive piece of work.

How do I find the right ghostwriter?

When you hire a ghostwriter, you can expect to spend six to eight months working with them.  Before committing to a ghostwriter, check out their website.  Is the writing compelling?  Does their style resonate with you?

Check out their testimonials page.  Not everyone is willing to admit that they’ve used a ghostwriter, but they should have some testimonials that you can review.

Take advantage of a get-acquainted telephone call or skype session to check your chemistry with  your potential ghostwriter.

What does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters charge in various ways, including by the word, by the page or a set project fee.  Melinda charges a project fee based upon the number of interviews and the amount of time she will spend on the project, and the fee is paid monthly over the course of the project.

For a book, most experienced ghostwriters’ charges begin in the low five figures.

What won’t a ghostwriter do for me?

Ghostwriters will take your ideas and turn them into a compelling and engaging story.  But ghostwriters will not market your book for you. They do not participate in profit-sharing.  Once they have written and edited your story, their job is complete.

What if I really want to write my book myself?

cruise logoIf you’ve never written a book and you really want to write the book yourself, you might want to consider hiring a writing coach or editor.  In addition to ghostwriting, Melinda also acts as a writing coach or editor, helping writers organize and edit their stories in the most impactful way.

Melinda also offers seminars to help aspiring authors find their voice.  The Writer’s Sherpa’s next seminar is The Write Your Book Workshop and Cruise from March 2-6, 2017 on the Carnival Elation, Port of Jacksonville, Florida. If you are considering writing a memoir but don’t know where to start, this might be a good fit for you.

Where can I find the Writer’s Sherpa?

You can find Melinda Copp and the Writer’s Sherpa at http://www.writerssherparetreats.com, on Facebook and Twitter.

Ever Upward Regina Mae

Five Things Every Beginning Writer Needs to Know

Five Things Every Beginning Writer Needs to Know

An Interview with L.K. McCall

L.K. McCall - Photo Two

L.K. McCall is an Indie Author whose debut novel, Sway of the Siren, was released in December 2015. Recently, she filled me in on the five things every beginning writer needs to know over margaritas and guacamole.

Pay Attention to Strong Images

McCall’s love of writing began as a coping mechanism after her family moved when she was in high school and she was mistaken for a narc at her new high school.  With a twinkle in her eye and in her thick upstate South Carolina accent, she explains denying being a narc doesn’t do any good, because that’s exactly what narcs say.  

Beautiful Piece of Humanity Regina Mae Writes.PNGShe imagined herself becoming a writer, but when it was time to go to college, her dad steered her toward safer careers like teaching and nursing.  They compromised on an English degree, and after graduating from Clemson University, McCall became an English teacher. 

Her love of writing never wained, and she eventually took a six-hour graduate-level class at Clemson University called the Upstate Writing Project.  One of the speakers was Ron Rash, the Southern Appalachian author of numerous poems, short stories and novels including Serena and Above the Waterfall.  During his lecture, Rash told the students that his stories always start with a strong image that he can’t get away from.  He doesn’t know the story in the beginning, but lets it grow from that image in his mind.

It was in that same way that McCall’s idea for Sway of the Siren started with a strong image that came to her one day and wouldn’t go away.  That image became the ending of the story, and the beginning of her journey as a published author.

Find An Encourager

For the last few years, McCall has taught in an alternative school for troubled students.  Her classroom was in a two-room portable that she shared with an older teacher, Elijah Heyward, Jr.  Heyward, a gifted poet who published Stories and Poems of a Gullah Native in 2012, would tease her with mocking poems he’d jot down on scrap paper in the time it would take her to use the restroom, which was on his side of the portable.  Then, when she struggled to write a retort, he’d mock her further, asking if he had to write the retort for her as well.

Determined to impress him, she brought him a few things she’d written in the past, and he told her, “You’re pretty good, maybe you should write.”

During this time, while the image of her novel was swirling around in her mind, becoming bigger and more insistent, Heyward called her to his room and told her that he’d had a dream about her the night before.  Heyward is Gullah and in the Gullah culture, dreams are very important.  They can tell who’s going to be born and who’s going to die.  They can predict the future.  Although McCall isn’t Gullah, she has tremendous respect for the Gullah culture and community, and listened intently to his dream.  Heyward’s dream turned out to be, in essence, the image she had for her novel.

That day, she thanked him, told him she knew what the dream meant, and walked away.  It was another eight months before she confessed that she was writing a novel.  The last day before Thanksgiving break, she brought Heyward half of the manuscript and asked him to read it and tell her what he thought.  Because he’d been critical of her writing in the past, she trusted him to be honest.  Because he is Gullah and the story contains a lot of the Gullah culture, she valued his input. 

On Monday morning when she came back from Thanksgiving break, he was waiting outside for her.  She asked if he liked it.  

“What, that crappy novel you’re writing?” 

But then he followed her to her room to tell her how good it was. 

From that day on, he encouraged her, bringing her handwritten cards to let her know she’d been on his mind and he believed in her story.  He spoke to her every day.  He gave her honest feedback.  And then proceeded to mentor her through the entire process, from writing, to editing, to publishing and promoting the finished novel.

Ass in Seat Time

Writing a novel requires discipline, especially if, like McCall, you have a family and a full-time job.  If you want to write, you have to stop talking about it and just do it.  McCall calls it Ass in Seat Time.  

For McCall, that meant getting up at 4:00 a.m. every day to write for two hours before showering and going to work.  After dinner, while her husband and their two sons were watching television or movies, she was at her desk writing until midnight.  Every weekend was heavy on Ass in Seat Time and light on fun, or housework to the chagrin of her oldest son.

She maintained this schedule for two years.  Her May River neighborhood has bonfires, oyster roasts and get togethers every weekend, and she skipped most of those to devote time to writing for two years.

The one break she gave herself from Ass in Seat Time was when she joined a writing group, Write to be Heard, a chapter of the South Carolina Writers Workshop, which meets twice a month.  Those meetings gave her an opportunity to have fun, get encouragement from fellow writers, and be held accountable for her writing.

Find Beta Readers

Early in the writing process, McCall gave her manuscript to a published author who noticed that McCall used the same sentence structure over and over again. Even though she was teaching her students to use six different sentence structures, she didn’t realize that in her own writing, she wasn’t using them.  Thankfully, this author brought it to her attention after three chapters and she was able to avoid that mistake for the rest of the manuscript.

During this time, find people who will tell you the truth about your writing.  There are people who will always tell you how great your writing is, and that isn’t helpful during the writing process.  McCall says these are the people you need after you’ve published your novel, so figure out early who they are and save them for the time when the book is published and it’s too late to change.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

The last piece of advice McCall has for the beginning novelist is to avoid comparing yourself to anyone else.  This is your story, and nobody else can write it like you can.  And in that same vein, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks about your story.  There will be people it resonates with, but if you try to write a story that resonates with everyone, you’ll end up with a story that resonates with no one.

Since publishing Sway of the Siren in December 2015, McCall has donated over $1,000 from the proceeds of the novel to the Pan African Family Empowerment & Land Preservation Network which, in part, helps the descendants of freed slaves save their ancestral lands by providing funds for taxes.

L.K. McCall - Photo 1You can learn more about L.K. McCall at her Website, Facebook and Twitter.

Sign up for my mailing list for a chance to win one of two autographed copies of Sway of the Siren.  (And if you’re already signed up, you’re already in!)

Ever upward,

Regina Mae

My Year of Big Magic

Hello, darlings.

Every year, I choose a word or phrase to set my intention for the year. In the past, I’ve had a Year of Balance, a Year of Yes, and even a Year of Bad Decisions, (which, quite frankly, turned out just fine and took a lot of the pressure off of my constant desire for perfect decisions). I struggled through them of December looking for a word for this year.  And then it happened. I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book Big Magic. And just like that, I knew I’d found a winner.


And so it is that Twenty Sixteen has become my Year of Big Magic, or in twitter-speak, my #YearofBigMagic.  This is my year to live as creatively as possible.

There are exciting things on the horizon, and I’m tickled to have you along for the ride.

I finished writing my memoir, Adventures in Dating, last year, and I am determined to have it published this year. With help from the ever-talented and strategically-connected Rockelle Henderson at Rock Inked, Inc., I am exploring traditional publishing. At the same time, I am open to adding the title “Indie Author” to my list of mad skills. I’m throwing it all out to the universe and waiting to see what comes back.

I am writing a romantic suspense trilogy, (which might actually be women’s fiction – this genre business can be pretty confusing), which tells the story of three best friends who face some of life’s toughest crises, and with the help and love of friends and family, they find second chances and lasting love. And really, isn’t that what we all want? Second chances and lasting love?  Let’s hear it for Happily Ever Afters!

I’m learning everything I can from my amazingly insightful and ever-encouraging life coach Sarah Mastriani-Levi of Mannafest Living. Sarah and I have a fun chat about the simple changes we mapped out in my quest for Big Magic on her podcast, appropriately named Simple Change. Grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine and listen along.

The only thing I love more than writing is reading, and I’m going to spend the year talking to authors and seeing what they have to say about the writing process. What works for them? What have they tried that didn’t work? Did they go Traditional or Indie? For me, I always want to know two things: why did you do something and how did it work out for you? And because I love sharing my favorite authors with my friends, I’m going to give away copies of their books, too. (Sneak preview – the first author interview will be with L.K. McCall who published Sway of the Siren in 2015.)

In addition to the trilogy and this blog, I’m exploring other ways to share some of the fantastic things I’m learning along the way about better ways to love and to write. What do you like best?  Ebooks?  Webinars?  Podcasts?

It’s going to be a helluva ride! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

In the meantime, keep your thoughts,


Ever Upward Regina Mae