I’ve spent countless hours interviewing clients in my 23 years as a ghostwriter and editor. I use these interviews to glean information about their lives and get a sense of their voice so that I can commit their wild and precious life stories to the page. Over the 60 books I’ve written, I’ve noticed striking commonalities between my clients—although many of them couldn’t be more different. I’ve worked with hippie pot growers, billionaire tech gurus, survivors of domestic and childhood abuse, war heroes, and more. Still, the cliche that people are more similar than they’re different rings true in my [...]
Becoming a successful freelancer doesn’t often happen overnight. It’s taken 23 years of experience in the publishing industry—and many trials and errors—to get to where I am now as a professional freelance writer. Becoming the best at what I do means carving out time to devote my most undivided attention to writing—and then charging appropriately and setting boundaries without backing down. Although there are endless lessons I’ve learned in pursuit of my dream, here's my recent Brainz article, featuring my top three tips for becoming a sought-after, high-earning freelancer.
From 2008–2016, the world knew Michelle Obama as the First Lady of the United States, a woman mostly eclipsed by her husband's presidency. While she was reasonably popular in this role, her own star didn't fully rise until 2018, when she released her ghostwritten memoir, Becoming. While some book tours involve a smattering of poorly attended readings at small bookstores around the country, with maybe a handful of books signed and purchased, Michelle sold out entire arenas. She visited twelve American cities and charged up to $3,000 for a meet-and-greet backstage. Her superpower? “To create intimacy at scale,” Vox Media [...]
In the world of story, the hero’s journey reigns supreme. Even if you’re not familiar with the name “hero’s journey,” you’d surely recognize the sequence of events that form the structure. In my 22 years as a ghostwriter of 60 books, I've found that the hero's journey is not a one-size-fits-all structure, especially regarding women. In the interview process, where I began to tease out the themes of their life stories, I realized the call-to-adventure transformation doesn't align with their lived experience. It's not that these women's lives don't include adventure or trials. On the contrary, the women I've [...]
Some tasks in life–like fixing a leaky roof or getting that cavity filled–carry a natural sense of urgency. Address the problem now, or you’ll be sorry. But writing your memoir? Most people don’t feel pressured to write down their life stories because they assume they will always have time later. It continues to move down the priority list until it’s languishing with the other tasks you’ve been putting off for years, like cleaning out your hallway closet or organizing your filing cabinet. The longer I’ve worked as a ghostwriter, the more I’ve realized that telling your own life story [...]
I attended the re:Create conference earlier this year and during a lunch conversation with Emily Joy and a few other creatives, I made the remark that as a ghostwriter and editor for the last fifteen years, I’ve noticed a distinct difference in the sexes when it comes to storytelling. My male authors may ask a lot of questions during the process of telling their stories—stories of abandonment, betrayal, divorce, poverty, war—but they’re typically based on marketing ideas and the composition of the overall book. “Can we play up this angle more?” “Can we move this chapter, revise this paragraph, use [...]
I had a great talk with a new friend last night, and we both shared that we’d had less-than-stellar male role models. I felt both validated and lacking, happy that I wasn’t alone and sad that so many of us in our twenties and thirties are still dealing with the aftermath of childhood. It made me think of a chapter I contributed to The One: Experience Jesus, by Carlos Darby and Judah Smith. To those who still struggle with self-worth and self-esteem, know that you are never alone. *** Know this: children are a gift from the Eternal; the fruit of the [...]
On August 3, 2014, I climbed Mt. Hope in Colorado with three friends: Mary, Amy, and Payton. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. And by far the most rewarding. The first night we climbed maybe 30 minutes to low camp, set up tents, experienced the wonder that is camping food out of a bag, and giggled nervously about bears and having to pee in the bushes. We all had heavy packs on, having brought too much, and my feet already hurt. The next morning we hiked several hours up to high camp. It felt like 5 hours [...]