The Writer’s Sherpa
South Carolina Writers Association member, 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?
Writing 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?
If 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?