Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gotham Is Hiring

Our firm is starting a search this week to fill a new position with our Bookwriters Group -- Director of Business Development.

This job is ideally suited for a literary agent or publicist who knows the publishing industry well, has experience pitching and closing clients, and is eager for a new challenge with high-reward potential.

Below is a full job description outlining the responsibilities and qualifications. You can also view the job listing online here.

Anyone interested in applying should send a cover letter and resume to:

Director of Business Development
Bookwriters Group

SUMMARY: Gotham Ghostwriters, New York’s only full-service writing firm, is seeking an entrepreneurial publishing professional with strong industry relationships to lead and scale up our growing bookwriting practice. This is a rare chance to capitalize on a sure thing -- or as close to it as you’ll get in today’s unsettled publishing world. Our Bookwriters Group is playing in a booming market with no real competition and, best of all, an unbeatable asset: the peerless network of more than 200 accomplished ghostwriters and editors we have built since launching the division two years ago. The reputation we have developed for delivering reliably high-quality service to the diverse universe of authors we work with -– from top CEOs and tech experts to the next generation of thought leaders looking to make a name for themselves -- doesn’t hurt either. All we need now is to find a dynamic, well-connected salesperson and manager who can help us expand that brand, cultivate new sources of business, and take full advantage of our unique capacity to custom-match editorial talent with authorial need. This position is ideally suited for a literary agent or publicist who is already versed in the art of smart content and eager for a new challenge with high-reward potential.

RESPONSIBILITIES: The director of business development (DBD) will work closely with the firm’s president and director of operations to: raise awareness of our Bookwriters Group in general and deepen our connections within the publishing industry in particular, identify and close new business opportunities, and manage relations with clients the DBD brings into the firm.

More specifically, the DBD will be responsible for:
  • Formulating and executing long-term business development and marketing strategies
  • Meeting with literary agents and publicists, editors at major houses, and other publishing and communications professionals who could be potential sources of business
  • Representing the firm at major industry conferences
  • Organizing events to increase brand recognition
  • Negotiating terms and drafting contracts for clients they bring in
  • Serving as the first point of contact for clients under contract
  • Overseeing the assignment of writers to their projects

QUALIFICATIONS: This position requires substantial knowledge of the publishing industry and the craft and business of writing; strong people, pitching, and relationship-building skills; and a mix of initiative, creativity, and business savvy.

In addition, the ideal candidate will have:
  • A minimum of 3-5 years experience working in a business development capacity at a literary agency, PR firm, or major publishing house
  • A wide network of connections throughout the publishing industry
  • Excellent writing ability
  • Enthusiasm for working in a start-up environment

COMPENSATION: Comparable to a literary agency -- modest base salary plus commissions on all new business the DBD is directly responsible for bringing into the firm. Health insurance provided.

APPLICATIONS: If you are interested in being considered for this position, please send a cover letter and resume to: dan@gothamghostwriters.com.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Around the Word: (Belated) Valentine's Edition

Bringin’ Grammar Back. It’s time for the revenge of the grammar nerds! Proofreading company Kibin did a survey of 1,700 online daters and their feelings about grammar, and the answers might surprise you. Not only did 43 percent of respondents say that poor grammar is a “major turn-off,” but 35 percent said they find good grammar sexy. That’s a win for grammar lovers everywhere! And it’s not just Kibin. Match.com’s survey of 5,000 online singles found that when sizing up a potential date, both men and women ranked grammar as very important—right after teeth. So if “C U L8ter” is like nails on a chalkboard for you, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. Next up? "Grammar Is Sexy" t-shirts for all!

Ghostwriting Cupids. In honor of everyone’s favorite holiday for love, let's take a look at the softer side of ghostwriting. Dating consultants are getting into the e-dating business to help singles with everything from editing and writing their profiles to crafting the perfect flirtatious email. So far only 14 percent of online daters have someone proofread their profiles, but the “Cyrano for hire” business is taking off. Want to see a ghostwriting cupid at work? New York Magazine gave an inside look at one consultant’s handiwork. And perhaps as word spreads that grammar is sexy, more singles will seek out dating ghostwriters to avoid becoming Dating Profile Disasters fodder.

Dating by the Book. Most people know of the eHarmonys and Match.coms of the online dating world, but for those with a much more specific checklist for prospective partners, there's a vast subset of niche dating sites. For political junkies who don’t want to date across the aisle, there's love along party lines on redstatedate.com and bluestatedate.com. If computer choice is a deal-breaker, Cupidtino caters to those who only want to date Mac owners. So naturally book lovers have their own niche dating site: Alikewise. Started in 2008, the site matches users based on their taste in books, using an algorithm similar to Amazon’s. Interested in joining? Flavorwire has 25 Pickup Lines to Use on Alikewise to get you started.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Writer Poll: Would You "Out" a Troublesome Client?

In a recent issue of Vanity Fair, Rich Cohen wrote a revealing article on his experience as a ghostwriter for late businessman and philanthropist Teddy Forstmann. The piece straddles the line between profile and exposé as Cohen shines a light on intimate details of the time he spent working with Forstmann on his memoir.

It’s an intriguing piece that raises the issue of what, if anything, a ghostwriter should reveal about his clients after they’ve finished working together. We reached out to our network of ghosts to find out whether they would ever “out” a high-profile client as troublesome or difficult to work with. Although many could empathize with Cohen’s struggle, most said they would never divulge private details about their clients’ lives.

For one GG writer, the Vanity Fair piece hit particularly close to home: Karl Weber worked for Forstmann some time before Cohen took on the task, and he had an equally difficult experience working with the businessman: “Yes, I was one of Rich's several predecessors who, like Rich, found it impossible to fulfill the task to Ted's satisfaction. Rich's article gave me the satisfaction of saying, ‘Well, at least now I know it wasn't just me!’”

Speechwriter Ian Griffin has also grappled with difficult clients but said he would never expose one: “
I'd never ‘out’ a problem client, even a deceased one, whose money I'd taken (not to mention whose hospitality I'd enjoyed at fine dining establishments and on private jet trips around the world). I make my living as a speechwriter, not a ghostwriter, but both professions require absolute discretion. Many high-profile people are ‘difficult,’ but if we take the assignment we should keep those difficulties to ourselves.” Editor Margot Atwell agreed: “I definitely would not. In this business we're trading on our reputations, and discretion and professionalism are important. If I were a client looking for a ghostwriter and an article like that popped up under a prospect's name, I would have a difficult time trusting that person.”

Other writers agreed that Cohen’s decision to write the piece was unprofessional. Meakin Armstrong said, “I don’t think someone else's lack of professionalism means you can be unprofessional, too.” Tim Vandehey concurred: “Pro ghosts should keep their client troubles confidential. You never know who might out you.”

Jack Rochester noted that Cohen’s lack of ghostwriting experience is evident in this piece: Cohen admits this is his first fling with ghostwriting, and it shows. I don't see any attempts to reach conciliation or consensus with his author-client, only a brooding, unvoiced resentment. In my opinion, Cohen displays a lack of respect for his author-client, and for the ghostwriting process as well.”

For Joseph Dobrian, it came down to the issue of money. “I would only ‘out’ a client who welshed on the payment. Then I'd warn everybody I could that this person is a liar, a cheat, and a thief.”

Many of our writers didn’t see the issue as quite so black and white. Lauren Paul said, “Absent a contract barring disclosure of the identity or personal information related to the client, it is legally acceptable to write that sort of piece. Cohen very much dimmed his ghostwriting prospects by doing so, but since he never wanted to be a ghost in the first place, that's probably fine with him.”

Howard Rothman took a similar stance: “I think it's okay in this case because (a) both the client and the project are dead, and (b) Cohen says he didn't violate anything in his NDA. I think it's also good that Cohen doesn't make his living as a ghostwriter, because it's not likely that anyone aware of this article will ever hire him in the future.”

Steve George sympathized with Cohen’s struggles, but said that it's the sort of thing that sometimes comes with the territory. “My only negative reaction to the article came at the very end, when Mr. Cohen feels sorry for himself, writing, ‘I am nobody. I'm the ghost.’ I, too, have felt invisible around people attending to a high-profile client, and that can be a bummer, but I also recognize that I am very important to the high-profile client. And he's the one that matters.”

It seems like all of our writers agree: “outing” a client, whether ethical or not, is simply bad for business. “For those who make their living as ghostwriters, it would be unwise to be seen as a ‘kiss and tell’ ghost,” said Laurel Marshfield.