There must be a high degree of trust between ghostwriter and client. Each must recognize and respect the other’s talents. Like with a marriage, the relationship between ghostwriter and client has ups and downs, pitfalls and pleasures, risks and rewards.
Either partner can throw things out of whack. Clients might typically try to take advantage of a situation, and it’s up to the ghostwriter to reel them back.
But what happens when the ghostwriter oversteps?
It happened to me recently. I knew I had to contact a lawyer to set up an interview. I also knew the lawyer on her website bragged about the work she did for her client — the same client I now ghostwrite as.
This client told me this summer how impressed she has been with how fast I’m writing her book. So to keep up that pace, I called the lawyer and spoke to her assistant. I explained who I was, referenced the website and asked to make an appointment to talk to her at length.
The next day, the assistant called me back to tell me the lawyer would call our client and me next week.
I was so pleased, I emailed my client the good news. She responded with a phone call.
“Why did you call her? I haven’t even called her yet,” she said.
“I thought you had contacted her,” I said. “You texted me her posting.”
“That was just to show you I found her,” she said.
Immediately, I knew I was in the wrong.
“You need to take a step back,” she said.
All I could do was apologize and pledge it wouldn’t happen again. “If the lawyer calls me first, I’ll ask if she’s spoken to you,” I offered. “If she says yes, fine. I’ll set up the appointment to talk. If she says no, I’ll stop and say, ‘You need to talk to her first.’”
And then we continued working. We were able to because of the high degree of trust we’ve already attained through the year we’ve been collaborating. We both understand that this is a partnership, and we act in service to each other. We both bring our expertise into the situation: The client brings the story and the ghostwriter brings the writing skills.
I screwed up, so I admitted it, fixed it, and we moved on — because we trust.
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