Expert Interview with Melinda Copp on Ghostwriting

Melinda Copp

Melinda Copp

Name: Melinda Copp

Website URL:   http://www.writerssherpablog.com

Social Media Links: http://www.facebook/thewriterssherpa

Describe what you do as a ghostwriter: I help people write the books that they can’t write themselves. 

How did you come to do what you’re doing today?

My first job out of college was working as an editorial assistant at a self-publishing company, and my boss was a ghostwriter. I had actually never heard of ghostwriting before then. I ghostwrote magazine articles while I was there and probably did over 200 in two years. When I left to have my oldest son in 2005, I worked as a freelance journalist for magazines and newspapers for a few years before going back to school to get my MFA in creative writing. That’s when, as a writer, I really started focusing on writing books and trying to learn everything I could about long-form narrative writing. I started my editorial consulting business in 2007, and I’ve been ghostwriting and editing books ever since. 

How do authors benefit from hiring a ghostwriter as opposed to writing a book themselves?

Writing is a craft and an art, and you have to learn how to do it, which takes time and practice to learn. Sometimes people aren’t interested in being a writer, but they want to author a book to build a consulting business or establish expertise, so they benefit because they can focus on what they do best and still get the book done.

And other times people have a story to tell but they don’t have the skills or time to sit down and write it well. In this case, it’s often something they’ve been thinking about for a long time, but need help to do. Hiring a ghostwriter to write the book, for them, means achieving a lifelong goal and, especially in the case of memoir, making art and meaning out of their experiences that they can then share with others. 

What’s the best way an author can prepare his or her story materials to be ghostwritten? 

I always tell people that I can start with whatever they have, whether that’s just an idea or a completed rough draft. So I don’t know that they need to prepare their materials, necessarily. Making a list of everything the person wants to include is a good way to start any book. Doing this gets all their ideas in one place and gives a sense of the project scope. Then you can start focusing the book idea. 

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

I love writing, and ghostwriting allows me to do plenty of that. I get lots of practice that I hope benefits my own work. I also like my clients. We work together for extended periods of time and get to know each other pretty well. Thankfully, I’ve worked with really amazing people.

Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?

As a creative writer who has a writing business, I’m really inspired by any artist who manages to balance making art with making a living. 

Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?

I wrote a book (my book, not a ghostwritten book) about alligators and wildlife management. I went alligator hunting and everything.

What’s next for you?

I have a new writing workshop that I’m really excited about. Next March, I’ll be teaching people how to focus their book idea, how to improve their writing, and how to structure a book-length narrative. The program is focused on memoir and creative nonfiction, so it will cover creative writing basics and help participants apply those techniques specifically to writing a book. The best part about it is that it takes place on a cruise to the Bahamas, so it’s a working vacation and a great opportunity to get away from the everyday distractions that often hold people back from writing their book. You can find out more here: http://www.writerssherparetreats.com/book-writing-workshop/.

Want to hear more of Melinda’s insights on ghostwriting? Join NFAA for the teleseminar “How to Get Your Book Idea Focused So It’s Easier to Write” July 27, 2016 at 10 a.m. PST/1 p.m. EST. Go to http://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com/upcoming-events-2/ for more info.

 

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