Ghostwriting on the Menu: A Minimalist Guide to the Industry

Posted on August 27, 2013


ImageRecently, the head chef at the Spanish restaurant at which I’m employed presented me with a new dish. 

“What is it?” I queried. 

“Just try,” was his unadorned reply. 

The dish was simple, delicious, and took no more than a bite for me to realize his achievement. The chef had created the experience of enjoying a traditional margarita pizza (flatbread, fresh basil, tomato, and mozzarella) in a single bite. Now, where could I possibly be going with this, you may understandably be asking yourself. Well, the flavor and technique that the chef achieved would mean nothing unless it could be promoted (to sell it, to make one salivate from the description, so to speak). The chef, who primarily speaks Spanish, then asked me to write it up for the menu. 

“Wait a minute,” I thought. “This is eerily coincidental since I have a blog on ghostwriting that I’m having trouble beginning.” And there you have it.  The restaurant has one of its now most popular dishes: Cherries Margarita: locally farmed cherry tomatoes roasted in Spanish olive oil, infused with basil and oregano, finished in GranDaisy breadcrumbs and toasted rosemary, $13.00; and I have an intro.  Now, one can see that ghostwriting is a broad industry, but who is seeking it out, why are they seeking it out, where can one find a ghostwriter, and finally, what can they expect their experience to be like?

First of all, what exactly is a ghostwriter? Put simply, it’s someone who writes something for someone else, and takes no credit (my name appears nowhere on the menu, for example).  Now, more importantly, who seeks out a ghostwriter?  The quick and easy answer may be, someone who can’t write; but this would also not be entirely correct. The correct answer may be someone who isn’t comfortable in their writing ability; or more appropriately, someone who doesn’t have time to write, such as the celebrity, the CEO, the politician, or the musician that may feel the need to “strike while the iron’s hot.” 

Recently a friend told me of a project in which he was writing Wee Man’s (of MTV’s Jackass “fame”) autobiography.

“How’s it going?” I inquired. 

“Not bad, I just need to finish Shaquille O’Neal’s introduction,” was his response.  I laughed, but was really asking myself how I could find a gig like that.

Go on Craigslist on any given day, and under writing services you can find hundreds, if not thousands of writers willing to do your compositional bidding.  However, with so many choices, and such anonymity, how can one really know the talent that they are acquiring? (Let’s be honest, a good writer can make a really good fake resume.) The more intelligent and responsible approach may be for the client to seek out a licensed publication company that offers ghostwriting services. A company like Asta Publications, for example (plug-plug), that takes a professional, interactive and logistical approach to satisfy its many busy clients’ needs.

Now, how does the process work?  Well, for the client it’s actually quite simple. Bring an idea, a concept, a manuscript perhaps (though not necessary), some capital, and some patience (as little as 120 days with a company like Asta); and the ghostwriter will deliver a finished product.  For the ghostwriter, the process is a little more complicated. The ghostwriter should be prepared to take any concept they are presented, take the time to do many rewrites, take criticism, take satisfaction in a completed project, and take zero credit whatsoever.  Though many people may have trouble with that last statement, honest writers will know that though their names are not on the covers, they have advanced themselves on the road to becoming better at their crafts (a writer writes).

So, are you a busy television celebrity whose window of viewer interest is closing (slowly, but be assured, surely), a celebrated CEO that is seeking more celebration and compensation, or a chef that wishes you could make skate fish with poison ivy sauce sound more appetizing?  Then you qualify as someone that should seek out a ghostwriter; and now you know how to go about it.  Pescado Blanco Asado: locally caught Skate fish roasted in herb and Iberico ham compound butter, served with spicy radish and radicchio, finished with a Rhus Radicans creme. 

Hans Freiwald, Writer and Editor, Asta Publications

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

Posted in: Publishing