Monday, July 22, 2013

Guest Post: Building Books as a Ghostwriter

by Alice Lesch Kelly

One of the authors I ghostwrite for checked in recently from the road. She was out promoting the book I’d written with her, and she was having one of those “I forget which city I’m in” moments.

While she rattled off her frantic schedule—a long list of readings, interviews, TV appearances, and speaking engagements—I sat back and appreciated the situation. After months of work on her book, we were both just where we wanted to be. She was out promoting her bestseller, and I was writing my next book.

As a ghostwriter, I get to do what I consider to be the most interesting parts of creating a book. I brainstorm topics, develop content, define strategies, package ideas, delve into research, and conduct interviews. And then, best of all, I write—expressing ideas, choosing words, crafting sentences, guiding narratives. I draft, revise, and polish.

Then, when I’m finished, I hand it all over to someone else.

I often think of myself as a surrogate mother. My books’ genetic material comes from another person, but I form it. I carry it for months, molding it, cultivating it, giving it voice. Under my care it develops and grows from the seed of an idea to a completed book that’s all ready for delivery.

The process works for everyone: The author has her baby, and I have the satisfaction of having written it to life.

When I started ghostwriting, I thought I’d feel disappointed when my authors received praise and attention for books I had written, or that I might be envious when Good Morning America called them rather than me. As it turns out, though, I prefer it this way. I get to have all the fun of writing—but when my books are ready to step out into the spotlight, I’m happy to let them go.

That’s why I love ghostwriting. Authors build platforms and marketing strategies, but I get to build books.

Alice Lesch Kelly is a book collaborator and ghostwriter specializing in health and self-improvement. Two of her recent books are Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby (HarperOne) and The Omni Diet (St. Martin’s Press). Her website is


Holly Robinson said...

You put it so well, Alice! I do get out and promote my own novels--which I love doing--but as a ghost writer I get to focus on what I love best: crafting sentences, finding a voice, and assembling a narrative structure that is unique to that particular book. It's all about the writing for me, and I feel so blessed that I get to do this.

generacionjoven said...

Hi Alice:
I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
And I work as a ghost.
I read your article and I feel the same.
But I like a man I will be "a parent for rent?"

My friends always ask me why I do not publish my name. I already did but the ghost is satiscaccion be higher.
The ego I leave for my clients.

Affection from the end of the world
Rodolfo Compte
Sorry for my typos