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Ghostwriting is Good – Editing is Better


Mike Schertenlieb

I am not a mindreader, but I am a ghostwriter. I don’t know all there is to know, but I do like collaborating with clients to present our combined wisdom.

As much as I would like to know everything about everything, to understand an expert view on topics and industries the world over… That simply isn’t the case. So, when the writing tasks come in – whether it’s a blog, an ebook, a newsletter, etc. – getting to the final product requires effort from both me and the client.

In some cases, all the client provides is a topic, a title, or a few notes about what they want written…

This works pretty well, honestly. Thanks to the deluge of information on the internet, I can usually find SOME of what I need to know to put some paragraphs together. Through some surfing and some careful Google terms, specifics about an industry or topic can be uncovered… Even I didn’t know the first thing about it when I started.

This is basic process of ghostwriting – at least as it applies to LongerDays and other business services. A long-form ghostwriter, like the one you might hire to help you write a memoir, is something a bit different. That person conducts interviews, takes notes, works by your side for months to help you create your story with their words…

That’s a far cry from a short description or just the title of a proposed blog to go on.

It’s not impossible, but it’s not ideal either… Because here’s the thing, I’m not my clients. I’m here to help them, definitely, and if they barely have a spare moment in the day to offer guidance, I’ll do what I can to make some sentences on their behalf!

In fact, writing guidance can cover the entire spectrum – from totally hands-off requests to detailed outlines and sources for research (the latter is better), and everything in between. I’ve had clients make audio recordings or provide stylistic examples…

And all of this inches toward the point I want to make:

I can make it work with very little information, but more detail from the client is ALWAYS better.

We’re in this together, and getting the best results is often a matter of clear expectations… And like any other task we do, the more guidance the client can provide, the better.

So, what’s the most detail they can provide? A DRAFT FOR ME TO EDIT.

…Or at least something in the ballpark: an outline, a document of notes, the unfinished “meat” of a piece.

I think about it like a sliding scale, from a hasty request with zero information, all the way to a drafted piece that needs some editing. It doesn’t even matter how bad the draft is! If the grammar is a mess, if it’s full of errors, if it was written hastily as a brain dump… That’s a great place for me to start.

When the client takes the time to write something (anything), they are injecting their personality and opinions into the piece. A ghostwriter simply can’t do that. I can use sources provided to get a sense of tone… I can intuit some things about an industry or the vibe of a business… But I can’t truly write from the client’s perspective – I can only get close.

Remember, I’m not a mind reader. Unless a client tells me directly, I can’t possibly know that they love to use WordPress, but hate a particularly popular plugin.

I can research best practices for logo design, but I can’t look up a client’s aversion to certain colors or styles… I can gather information, but I can’t ghostwrite opinions!

Sometimes no opinions are necessary. A rundown of top-performing password managers isn’t too tough to write from an objective perspective. A writeup of a client’s favorite morning exercises, however, is just guesswork without their input – no matter how much research I do.

So… All of this makes editing a whole lot more accurate than ghostwriting!

It can be miles away from perfect (that’s my job), but when a client writes from their own perspective, that point of view remains at the center of the piece – no matter how many commas I fix.

An awful lot of the service we provide is about saving people time, about taking tasks off their plate so they can focus on the more important aspects of their businesses. This type of task, however, is one that requires a little bit of time spent on the client’s end. In my experience, the more time they spend from the outset, the more satisfied they are with the final results.

Guidance helps. Notes help more. Recordings and outlines help even more… And nothing helps quite as much as a rough draft!

If you don’t have time, I totally understand. I’ll still write your article or newsletter or email to the best of my ability. Writing from scratch is part of the job, but time and again, the best results come from meeting somewhere in the middle.

I’m the word guy, and you’re the one closest to your own business – and your thoughts about it.

So, next time you need some writing work done, remember the process from my perspective! I’ll make it work in whatever way is easiest for you, but if you put in a bit of time to write a draft for me to edit – or even just dump a bunch of your thoughts into a Google Doc – you’ll likely get a lot closer to what you really want. When I’m working on your draft, I am a mindreader – all because you’ve provided a window into the way you think.

And that’s what you want to present to your readers in the first place, right?

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