We’ve all seen pictures of the classic beach-side beauty parade. Images of scantily clad, long-limbed beauties parading in all their glory to the calculating eyes of the (usually male) judges. The sun shines and the sea twinkles in the distance as every girl displays their charms, smiles at the judges and passes some asinine comment on their love of animals or world peace.
So … what’s this got to do with ghostwriting? Does a ghostwriting beauty parade mean that only the young and ‘hot’ ones amongst us get the gig? If so, that’s me out. Luckily, that’s not the case and my swimsuit can stay safely packed in the bottom of my wardrobe for now.
A ghostwriter’s parade, like any other ‘business parade’ is just that. Getting in front of the client and pitching not only your writing skills and understanding of the craft but also yourself as a caring, listening, empathic writer. Yes, it’s torturous, yes, it’s a bit embarrassing, yes, it’s bruising to the ego when and if you’re not picked as the ‘winner’ … but it IS necessary.
During this sometimes cringe-worthy, but quite civilised process, the agent and/or publisher lines up their ‘big name’ celebrity, sport-star, pop-star or whatever with a selection of possible ghostwriters. Then they get to know each other – usually over drinks, dinner or lunch somewhere very, very nice. The relationship between author and ghost is co-dependent. Each needs to trust the other. The author with their secrets, the ghost with their skills and confidence. It’s a time to open hearts and minds, stay honest and aim for common ground.
Sometimes people ‘gel’ instantly, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, the ghost may be keen on the job originally but then decide after chatting to the author that it’s just not for them. Perhaps they think they will be unable to do the subject matter justice, or maybe they just don’t think a good, working partnership will develop. Sometimes there will be a gender, a culture or an age mismatch.
A beauty parade like any other type of audition can be nerve-racking, but a potential ghostwriter should not take any rejection personally. There can only be one winner, and not every-one gets to wear the tiara.