We are gridlocked in a dodgy area of a dodgy city in a country thousands of miles from home. A bus has stopped halfway across a junction 100 yards further up the street and nothing can get by. We haven’t moved for ten minutes and are now surrounded by two lanes of angry traffic, each car jostling for a millimetre of advantage that will take them precisely nowhere. It’s midday on Saturday and the pavement teems with people. I watch one man on the curb performing on-the-spot ear-piercing – his client winces as his lobe is punctured and the new
A first draft never goes straight to print. In my experience the first ‘final’ draft never does, either. This is especially the case when you are working as a team – whether it’s an editorial team, or author and ghostwriter. In nonfiction, a ghost is sometimes working with two, or even three, named authors, so it becomes a small business project. Quite early in my career I learned never to call a version of a document the ‘Final’ draft, because before long you have the ‘Final Final Final draft v5’, and someone else has created a ‘Final Final draft v6’.
One of the first discussions I have with any author I work with is: what next? Not as in, what is the next book, although I often do go on to do more than one book with individual authors. But what next, how will they publish the book? This is invariably the cue for me to explain the pros and cons of traditional versus self publishing. In the early days of my ghosting career, credibility was the focus of the ensuing discussion. Traditional publishing was deemed to be the seal of approval that this was a ‘proper book’. That smart
We’re a diverse bunch at United Ghostwriters. Several of our members write crime fiction. So I’m going to do a blog on the subject. A convincing, likeable detective is one answer. A tour round the world of current crime fiction will reveal a bewildering selection of sleuths. Policemen, of course – my favourites are the team from Ed McBain’s 87th precinct – but if you prefer you can have your murder solved by Jane Austen or a cat. Must the detective be likeable? I think the answer is ‘yes’. They can be flawed, of course, as we all are. They
I wouldn’t want to change my profession, but there are days when it does get frustrating. I’m currently working on reviving four crime novels I wrote back in the 1990s, for republication. Most of the time this is a delightful experience – I really get into them again. Every now and then, however, it can be thoroughly dispiriting. Re-reading them, it’s clear that one of the four books is weaker than the others. Particular passages shout ‘not good enough!’ at me. In some, I give the reader too much information – the great crime writers give nothing away they don’t