GWI editor worked on this book

Hire a ghostwriter here. One of our Ghost Writer, Inc. team members, a best selling ghost, created the proposal, "edited" the book, got it published and caused the production of the related movie. It became a blockbuster starring Queen Latifah and Jennifer Garner in 2016. Showings have finished, hope you rent the DVD or Blu-Ray!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: Falter & Fall

Falter & Fall Falter & Fall by Dr Vivekanand Jha
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book of elegant, sophisticated poems, 51 in all, is by an Indian writer. His manner of turning a phrase is uniquely his alone. Each poem inhabits but one page, mostly, but every one of them grabs you the instant you begin to read. Forthright, evocative, each easygoing poem beckons you into reading more. The entire book’s beautifully flowing language is written to cover a deeply wide variety of topics. This is no ordinary book of simplistic love poetry or redundant religious verse. Rather, the poet takes you on a revealing journey involving hidden, dramatic and political aspects of Indian culture. A must-read for those who enjoy truly nativist Indian poetry!

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Indian ghostwriters

The ghost who writes: Here's why anonymous authors are thriving

IANS | May 29, 2017

Indian ghostwriters

NEW DELHI: What if you were told that many of the books that you have read of late have actually not been written by the authors who find mention on their covers? 

Difficult to believe -- but true. An anonymous world of ghostwriters lies hidden behind the glitz and glamour of the books business and literature festivals that most readers are unaware of. 

Sample this: "Don't have time to write a book, but still want to be a published author? Go for our world-famous book ghostwriting option."

Absurd as it may sound, it is the tagline of Power Publishers, who, in their own words, are the world leaders when it comes to ghostwriting. And they are not alone, the internet is full of platforms that provide ghostwriters to those who cannot write but still want to be writers.

A ghostwriter is an anonymous figure, who, by contract, agrees to write a given book for somebody else. The ghostwriter is paid a fairly good sum of money but has no claim over the copyright of the book or its royalties. When the book hits the stands, it carries someone else's name -- the perceived author for its readers.

And, as a breed, ghostwriters are gaining prominence in the publishing industry. Forget self-publishing platforms or smaller publishers, many of the leading publishing houses too have, at some point or the other, sought the help of ghostwriters. 

Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee, former Director of the National Book Trust (NBT) and former Editor of "Indian Literature", Sahitya Akademi's bi-monthly journal, explains why. 

"Successful people are gradually becoming more and more ambitious and want to talk about themselves -- and that they do through autobiographies and memoirs. But they do not have wherewithal to write books. So they employ ghostwriters.

"Most autobiographies and memoirs of popular figures in the past 20-25 years have been written, partially or wholly, by ghostwriters," Bhattacharjee, who is currently spearheading the editorial works of Niyogi Books, told IANS. 

Poulomi Chatterjee, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Hachette India, which has many bestsellers to its credit, said that there are "certain segments" for which ghostwriters are used.

"You wouldn't find ghostwriters, I hope, for fiction because you are actually looking for the author's art and craft and voice and story. 

"But for non-fiction, there might be experts in various subjects that you want information from. They could be entrepreneurs, business professors or academic historians and you would want them to collaborate with a ghostwriter when they have a lack of time or... don't necessarily have the skill to (write)," said Chatterjee, who had a long stint at Penguin India before Hachette.

For Udayan Mitra, Publisher-Literary of HarperCollins India, ghostwriting has become much more prevalent and organised than it was before and this, he felt, benefits the publishing industry in the long run. 

"It has become a lot more professional... it used to be that the author or an editor knew a particular person who was capable of the task. But now there are many more people who are doing it, who have the experience of doing it, and they know how to turn an idea into a book," Mitra told IANS. 

Sharing an interesting anecdote about working with a ghostwriter (before he joined HarperCollins), Mitra said that some five years ago, a big industry leader wished to do a memoir on himself and his corporation -- and so they had this hunt for a ghostwriter, which ended with a foreign journalist.

"The person landed up in India for ghostwriting the proposed book, but the first day in Delhi he was struck by Delhi Belly and every time he recovered, it would strike again. The corporate leader was getting worried because he had flown him to India and was paying a lot of money for the project. He had also put aside a lot of time from his hectic schedule. Eventually, the book happened -- but it was a funny as well as tragic experience," recalled Mitra.
Ghostwriters as well as several online platforms suggest that they are paid decently. Ghostwriters are available at about Rs 700 per page (containing 250 words) for fiction books on several online platforms.
Of course, the amount of money that many well-to-do are willing to pay ghostwriters for writing a book on their lives or their business is astonishing -- sometimes running into several lakhs of rupees.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Review: Blaque Beauty and the Billionaire

Blaque Beauty and the Billionaire Blaque Beauty and the Billionaire by Erin Lee Daniels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To start: this is no ordinary adult novella. It’s set mainly in a ski lodge, leading with the gorgeous, youthfully attractive Black assistant to the company in charge of the lodge’s interior design. Little does she know, as she sits planning her job out in the lobby, what is to befall her. The man of her dreams enters the picture, without telling her who and what he is.

He sweeps her off her feet, and in one breathtaking sequence, takes her sexually in a long, torridly passionate loving manner. But he can’t seem to tell her the truth about what he is – the owner of the ski lodge she’s been hired to redesign! When she finds out the truth, she nearly loses her life in a winter storm, only to be rescued in time to discover to whom she owes her life. As she’s angry beyond measure, it takes a lot of effort on the billionaire owner’s part to convince her that his love for her is real, and not simply a weekend’s lustful, one-time splurge.

To finish: if you’re over 18, read this scintillating romance featuring the well-to-do and their loving schemes, dreams and antics. It’s a quickie, easy to finish in a single read. But there’s a series of Blaque Beauty books by the same author to enjoy.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ghostwriter for Other Ghostwriters

UT alumnus epitomizes meta-ghostwriting

Published April 25, Updated April 26, 2017

Ghostwriter for other ghostwriters
         Photo Credit: Maria Luisa Santos | Senior Videographer

A ghostwriter writing for fame by ghostwriting for other famous ghostwriters is the premise of Connor Gleim’s new book, ghostwritten for him by his friend Austin Robinson.
UT alumnus Robinson ghostwrote “The Ghostwriter’s Ghostwriter: How I Became a Ghostwriter’s Ghostwriter,” a novel chronicling the fictional ghostwriting career of his friend and advertising senior Connor Gleim. After graduating this past December with degrees in English and youth and community studies, Robinson said he was inspired to write the book when comedian Nathan Fielder employed a ghostwriter to pen a fake motivational workout book for his show, “Nathan for You.” Robinson brought up the episode to Gleim, who suggested Robinson follow in Fielder’s lead by ghostwriting a book for him. 
Gleim and Robinson met up, penned an outline on Google Drive and Robinson took the reins from there. 
Robinson said the project itself required arduous research on the logistics of writing an actual book. But when it came down to it, Robinson said writing the 136-page book took him only 10 days. 
“I was really inspired by Nathan Fielder,” Robinson said. “He only gave his ghostwriter a few days to write a much longer book.” 
Gleim said he contributed some ideas for the story and cover design, but let Robinson handle the rest. 
“The story set him ablaze with passion,” Gleim said. “He’s a great writer in general, and he has an interesting view of the world.” 
Robinson has always found wacky outlets for his creative flair and loud personality. Before becoming a published author, he said he wrote so much comedy that his friends believed he wrote for Texas Travesty, even though he had never worked for that publication. 
Robinson said he has also invested his creativity in other ventures such as his own T-shirt brand and an energy drink he marketed.
“It’s really funny because none of those things were ever in my plate of things I wanted to care about or do,”
Robinson said. “People would come to me and say, ‘You’re a genius at marketing.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my god, thank you!’” 
Ads he released for the energy drink, H20, feature the drink in anachronistic settings, an element Robinson said he added because it was so funny and quirky. The T-shirt brand he started simply has his name written in bold lettering. 
“When marketing my products and my brand I think, ‘How can I make this totally me?’” Robinson said. “My personality is definitely in my brand, my marketing style and my products.” 
Robinson said he took the same approach in writing “The Ghostwriter’s Ghostwriter.” The book is filled with meta-humor and a wacky storyline that reads like an article from Texas Travesty.  
This absurdist humor is introduced with the book’s dedication, which memorializes Gleim’s roommate, mechanical engineering senior, Marshall Geyer, whom the book
falsely states was killed by a truck collision while also battling a
life-threatening illness.
“I was glad to be a part of the dedication, and if I were still alive I would have read (the book),” Geyer said. 
Before inspiration for the book stoked his passion, Robinson had been looking for a job as a case worker to supplement his study in youth and community studies. His plans haven’t changed, but he is now looking at more options including graduate school and professional ghostwriting programs in California. 
“I was all over the place,” said Robinson. “And I still sort of am, but I am getting back on my feet. Of course, I want to be a writer, but right now it’s sort of a serious hobby.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

What is Ghost Writing?

The ins and outs of ghost writing

Mmegi Blogs
Friday April 7, 2017

Ghost writing is when someone writes something but the credit for the writing goes to someone else. Many, if not most, of the books you see written by celebrities are in fact written by ghost writers.

ghost writing

Most presidents give speeches that they have not written. Some people nowadays even have someone else writing their posts on Facebook and Twitter. Ghost writers are everywhere. But what to do if you’re approached for a ghost writing gig? How does it work?

The most common ghost writing gigs are usually a one-off writing project. Let’s say for example, a family wants to record their history in a book to be given only to other family members. I’ve heard of these sorts of jobs in Botswana.

In this case, it’s likely they will be self-publishing this book with no intention of selling it. They want the writer to put together the information that they have gathered. The writer might need to record some oral stories from members of the family and transcribe them. Then the writer would put it all together in a readable form, ready to be taken to a book designer for layout and the cover, and then to the printer.

It’s important for the writer in this instance to have the full extent of the work involved clearly written out and forming part of the contract the two parties will sign. Such a project can bleed into many, many more hours than you might have anticipated. You don’t want a situation where you have conflict with the people who hired you. Conflict is avoided by having a very clear contract. For example, three one hour recording sessions or all research materials will be given to the writer by a certain date, no research material will be allowed after that date. Otherwise what seemed like a nice, easy writing gig, can turn into your worst nightmare.

The set fee will include the complete copyright being owned by the people who hired you. You will not be able to use any of that writing because it was a work-for-hire and you will not own the copyright. This and the amount of hours you have decided the project will decide the one-off fee. I would advise at least a quarter be paid before the project begins. The remainder given as instalments as the work progresses. The final payment should be ten percent or less. Be sure to include the number of rounds of edits that you’ll allow.

This means you write, you give it to the client, they make changes, you institute the changes. Limit the number of times that the client is allowed to do that. You might want to have an outline stage, where an outline for the book is agreed. If that’s the case, then any major re-writes should be defined as well, i.e. not more than 10% of the manuscript.

If the book is a ghost writing project for a celebrity that is going to be published by a traditional publisher where royalties are earned, then there are some different scenarios. If the publisher has hired you, then again it might be a one-off payment. And again a detailed, well-defined contract is a must. And too, a one-off usually means that you are forfeiting your copyright.

Alternatively, you might be given a royalty agreement with the publisher. Though your name will not appear on the cover, and in its place the celebrity will appear as the author, you will still earn royalties as the author. This is a good deal if the person is uber-famous and you can keep your own ego out of the equation.

The ghost writing gig that you should avoid and one I’ve seen often is where a person approaches you to say: “I have a fantastic story. I think you should write it and we can go half- half on the money the book earns”. This person almost never has a publisher lined up. S/he is going to self-publish. You’ll do all of the work and get no money until the book sells, and, undoubtedly, the story is not “fantastic” and you will earn no money for a lot of work and all of the time lost with having to deal with a delusional person. Do not do this. Please.

There are some writers who only ghost write and offer themselves as such. I’ve seen people who wish, for example, they could write a novel but can’t. They will pay someone, often a very good fee, to write the novel for them just so they can put their name on the cover as the author.

The most important aspect of ghost writing is to be clear about the project. You must have a well-defined contract with no lee-way for either party and with a strict payment regime, with payments along the way as the work progresses and a substantial chunk paid at the outset before beginning the project.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ghostwriter Christopher Shulgan

Christopher Shulgan's not-so-secret life as a ghostwriter

Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Mar. 03, 2017

Ghost Writer Christopher Shulgan

It was late at night on a dirt road in the Michigan wilderness. An auto industry executive and I were driving to his vacation home to hole up for a few days to work on a manuscript. Then the headlights illuminated a tree the snowstorm had blown onto the road. The two of us tramped out into the cold. On a count of three, we heaved at the trunk – and succeeded in moving the thing just a couple of inches.
My client looked at me and grinned.
“I don’t suppose this is in your job description?”
The thing about being a ghostwriter is that it doesn’t really have a job description. I began this line of work by accident. More than a decade ago, I called up the media relations manager for a company that I’d profiled for Toronto Life. The company had posted the article on its website, a violation of copyright, and taken my name off the story. I’d prefer if they just posted a link to the original article, I said. Sure, the manager agreed. No problem. And by the way – the company sometimes needed a writer. Would I be interested?
Sure, I shrugged over the phone. Why not?
What started with essays and op-eds segued into speeches. I ran an e-mail newsletter that required collaborating with a half-dozen professionals per month. Then came an offer to ghostwrite a book.
Turns out ghostwriting fits well with my abilities. It helps to be impervious to criticism. And psychic when it comes to interpreting editorial feedback. I happened upon the key skill early in my career when I ran a magazine that relied on a handful of volunteer contributors. With more empty pages than writers to fill them, I would dash off articles myself and slap a pen name at the top. The practice helped me develop the ability to write comfortably in a variety of voices.
“A ghostwriter, huh?” an Uber driver asked me recently. “You must be a really good writer.” And I suppose I am. But that’s not the service that I’m selling to my clients. A few years back, I judged one of CBC’s Canada Writes short story contests. I read hundreds of entries created by amateur writers, and time after time I was blown away by how good the contributions were. The experience deflated my ego. A distinct voice, a fresh turn of phrase, a well-told anecdote – sure, I manage each one pretty well, but it turns out plenty of people have those abilities.
Once, at a party, somebody asked me why I do it. Didn’t I want my name to be the big one on the cover? “I do it for the cash,” I said. The line earned a guffaw, but like a lot of cheap laughs it wasn’t strictly true. I really enjoy the work. Aside from therapists, whose job mine sometimes resembles, ghostwriters hear the stories that no one else gets to hear.
People have various ideas about the job. The name, ghostwriter, suggests some sort of subterfuge. Over the 12 or so years I’ve been doing it, I’ve worked with … Oh, hell. I don’t know. Fifty? Let’s say 50 clients. Only a handful have insisted on complete secrecy. Most of them are happy to admit that they’re working with me.
My latest book, The One-Minute Workout: Science Shows a Way to Get Fit That’s Smarter, Faster, Shorter, was written with the McMaster University time-efficient exercise expert, Dr. Martin Gibala. Working on that book was basically my ideal experience. It started when I was interviewing him for another client. Once I was done that job, I called up Marty and mentioned to him that I thought he should do his own book.
“Oh,” he said. “I’d never have time.”
“No,” I said. “I could write it with you.”
I explained the way I worked. We’d meet every week, for about an hour at a time, and just talk. Then I’d edit the transcript of our conversations. He’d read the result and offer feedback. I’d revise, and we’d repeat until both of us were happy.
Marty is a smart guy and, really, he could have written the book himself. Except it would have taken him a lot longer. Because, like most of my clients, he’s also a busy guy – a research scientist who runs a major physiology lab, and the chair of one of the most renowned kinesiology departments around.
Which brings us to the service that I’m actually providing to my clients.
Writing a good book requires big blocks of time. Scads of it. A certain kind that doesn’t exist for most people. The kind without interruptions. Long spans that aren’t punctuated by text messages or e-mail pings, Instagram notifications or Twitter DMs.
My career has confronted me with some remarkable experiences. I’ve suffered altitude sickness on a Himalayan mountaintop, sprinted across an active driving range in Aix-en-Provence and, for an upcoming project in Silicon Valley, ridden in the world’s most advanced self-driving car minutes after interviewing the men who designed it.
Then, I head to my office and I do something that’s not available to most of my clients. I stay off e-mail and avoid social media, and type away on my unnetworked computer for hours at a time.
Many of my clients can write well. Many of them are smarter than I am. And at least one of them can manage to work with his ghostwriter to heave a fallen birch tree off a remote Michigan road, inches at a time.
What they don’t have is the ability to disconnect from life.
Who does but a ghostwriter, these days?
Christopher Shulgan lives and writes in Kensington Market in Toronto.

Hire a Ghostwriter - When should you?

Should you Hire a Ghostwriter?

By Jonathan Crowl |March 2, 2017

Should you Hire a Ghostwriter

This morning, your CMO approached you about creating new content to be published online. Among several new ideas for campaigns, she mentioned having a ghostwriter create some thought leadership content that could be published under her name. You’re supposed to come up with a way to make this work.

You want to give your boss the answers she wants, but you’re uncertain of how to handle the suggestion of ghostwriting. For one, you may never have worked with ghostwritten content before, and might be uncertain of its efficacy. For another, you may be unclear on the rules of producing ghostwritten content and attributing it to a different source. Before you can have a meaningful conversation on the subject with your boss, you need to know where you draw the line on using ghostwriters versus producing original content in other ways. And that line’s location can depend on several factors.

When Ghostwriting Works

There are plenty of scenarios where ghostwriters can be useful in a content strategy. Companies inevitably have a need for content that isn’t necessarily inventive or dynamic: website content can fall under that banner, as well as white papers, press releases, and other straightforward content. In these cases, it’s more about communicating information than conveying a sense of passion or personal expertise, and ghostwriters are often all that’s required to get the job done.
Other types of content, meanwhile, require the creative touch of someone familiar with that specific content channel. Two great examples are social media and website landing pages: while they may not seem complex, each type of content is closely cultivated, and the stakes are high. More than a writer who intimately understands your brand, you first and foremost need a content creator who knows how to have success on these platforms. Your best in-house writer is worth very little on the social media front if they don’t know the nuances of creating Facebook content, for example, as opposed to Twitter, LinkedIn, or another social channel. Likewise, a landing page that doesn’t generate conversions is useless to your company. It’s common for brands to find that ghostwriters are the best experts to put in these positions.
It gets dicier as you move toward content that requires a deeper understanding of your brand. Blogs, articles, videos, and other digital content often take a longer form that demands a more developed understanding of your company. If you’re creating ghostwritten content in the voice of one of your executives, it’s even trickier to get the tone and details consistent and correct. Covering industry news in a blog may be manageable for ghostwriters, but the more specialized and authoritative the content, the tougher it is to find success through ghostwriting.

The Problem of Thought Leadership

In your industry, and as one of the faces of your company, your CMO is very important. She plays a crucial role in many aspects of your company’s success, all of which affect the brand’s bottom line and its future business prospects. So when she pitches the idea of having content ghostwritten, it’s important that she understands what she’s really asking for: she wants to hand over her voice—and, by extension, the voice of her business—to someone she hardly knows.
This isn’t to say that ghostwriters can’t be trusted, or that they can’t offer incredible value to a company in certain scenarios. But asking them to write content in the voice of an executive isn’t necessarily fair to them, either. For one, they don’t have your experience in the industry, or at that company. Their knowledge of the work you do isn’t as deep as an executive’s, even if that ghostwriter has worked for companies in the same industry in the past.
Ghostwriters also won’t have the personality of the executive, which is hard to match perfectly at every turn—and, since the executive is more visible to the outside world, inaccuracies will be easier to spot.
But a bigger issue, as HubSpot pointed out, is the problem ghostwriting poses to your credibility. Typically, one of two things will happen: Either a ghostwriter won’t be able to fill online content with deep insights and high value, which means the executive will still have to do the heavy lifting if she wants successful thought leadership content. Or, ghostwriters might pitch ideas independently—which means your CMO won’t develop as many concepts and innovative ideas of her own. Over time, the latter can erode the competence of your leadership. By outsourcing thought leadership to ghostwriters, in other words, you risk executives’ reliability as thought leaders in their industry.
It’s not a clear recipe for failure, but it’s a content experiment that is rife with potential pitfalls.

Finding the Right Balance

Ultimately, the answer isn’t black or white: a ghostwriter could be a great investment for your company—but only if you use him or her wisely.
You can start positioning yourself for success by hiring ghostwriters with a proven background in your industry. Establish clear parameters on what ghostwriters can effectively handle, and what should be reserved for in-house staff.
In general, it’s best to ease into the relationship with ghostwriters, making sure they aren’t biting off more than they can chew. As they establish themselves as competent and reliable, you can increase their workload and the types of content they create.
Thought leadership and other specialized types of content are always going to be risky to hand over to ghostwriters. It’s best if your c suite can take a more proactive approach in content creation, and thought leadership articles are a great way to do this: executives can create a first draft that captures their innovative ideas, and marketers can work to polish the piece over time.
If your boss is insistent on having a ghostwriter create content under her name, encourage her to offer ideas and provide feedback to help shape that content strategy. If you’re working with the same ghostwriter over time, this can help address some of the inherent shortcomings that ghostwriting often renders on thought leadership content. Additionally, suggest that your ghostwriter conduct an interview (either in person or over the phone) with your CMO to capture her ideas and get a sense of her personality. This will help synthesize the writer’s talents with your CMO’s voice and expertise.
In the end, every company has to make content decisions based on their own in-house resources and the outsourcing options available to them. If you do find yourself in need of ghostwriters, just remember to look for two key features: a solid body of work, and a commitment to working consistently with your brand.

Jonathan has worked as a journalist for the past 8 years. His journalism credits include employment at the Omaha World-Herald, Willamette Week, and, with projects appearing in New York Newsday, WRITERS' Journal, and others. Other writing has regularly appeared on, and, among others. He is the recipient of a First Place award in Sports Feature from the Society of Professional Journalists Northwest Region. He lives in Portland, Oregon and works as a marketing writer and a freelance editor.

Celebrity Ghostwriter Nancy French

Ghostwriter to the Stars

By James Bennett

Feb. 18, 2017

High-profile political figures and celebrities trust Columbia's Nancy French to tell their story.

Celebrity Ghostwriter Nancy French
    Milwaukee County, WI, Sheriff David Clark (Facebook)

The wife of David French, who came close to running for president in 2016 as a conservative independent candidate, has ghost-written books with high-profile figures such as Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin, former "Bachelor" Sean Lowe, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and actress Stacey Dash.

"I just ask my subjects, 'Give me everything you have, and I'll give you back the best version of you,' " French said.

French's latest book on Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, Sheriff David Clarke comes out Feb. 28.

Three of her books landed on The New York Timesbest-seller list and turned her into a go-person for conservatives who need clarity and personality in putting their thoughts and unforgettable moments into print.
"Once you get a New York Times best seller in the conservative world of politics, you're asked to do more," French said. "People will look at their books and say, 'Oh, Sarah Palin's ghostwriter is this person.' They'll call my agent and set it up.
"I didn't know David Clarke, known best for wearing the big cowboy hat and boots and for being plain talking on crime and race," she added. "I did not know him from anybody. His people called my people, and we worked out a deal."
"Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime & Politics For a Better America" was published by Worthy Publishing of Nashville. French spent two weeks with Clarke as he campaigned for Donald Trump in the presidential election.
"When I wrote about Sarah Palin, I spent a month with her in Alaska," French said. "Now I tell my subjects that I am not going to do that with them so it will not sound so intimidating. I made two one-week trips to Milwaukee to spend time with Sheriff Clarke.
"What I do with celebrities is just stick with them," French said. "You eat breakfast with them. You go to work with them. You meet their kids. You meet their wives. You go to church with them. You see what the details are like. You get to know everything about them."
French, 42, and her husband were opposed to Trump's candidacy, with National Review columnist seriously considering a White House run with substantial backers led by influential conservative editor Bill Kristol. Some of David French's commentaries were among the most scathing against Trump before he won the Republican nomination.
"Donald Trump provided a plane for Sheriff Clarke and I to go somewhere," French said. "I literally was on a Trump plane, writing a book about Sheriff Clarke while everything was swirling around us."
Some Trump supporters threatened the French family for their outspokenness and for considering a presidential run. Nancy considered one to be a death threat. Clarke advised her to learn to carry a gun.
On the other hand, Clarke was one of Trump's biggest supporters. After voting for President Barack Obama in 2008, he became a Republican. He spoke at the 2016 GOP convention, opening with the words, "Blue Lives Matter."
"Sheriff Clarke has been a faithful and adherent supporter of Donald Trump," French said. "He did a great job, talking about the law-and-order aspects of Trump's platform."
On Friday, Clarke tweeted his support for Trump, whose "Make American Great" campaign led to his Electoral College victory over Hillary Clinton.
"Michelle Obama said she was never proud of her country til they elected her husband POTUS. I've never been prouder since we got rid of him," Clarke wrote.
Later Friday, Clarke was in Orlando, Fla., when a woman told him he should take off his "Make America Great" baseball cap.
"Told her she should go get her money back for her ugly haircut. That ended THAT! Mic drop!" Clarke wrote on Twitter.
"The People's Sheriff," as Clarke calls himself, has charisma in spades, French said. He wears cowboy boots because his uncle, Franklin Clarke, played for the Dallas Cowboys after being taken by America's Team in the 1960 NFL expansion draft.

"He wears cowboy boots and a hat, and walking around Milwaukee with him is amazing because of his charisma," Clarke said. "He is mobbed like a celebrity. He speaks the truth plainly and a way that is resonate. He speaks what Americans believe. If he thinks something is true, he will say it in the most dramatic and forceful way possible.
"He's gotten in trouble for controversial statements in the past, and probably will in the future," French added. "But he's generally saying what most people believe, and that's why he is so popular."
In the book, Clarke talks extensively about racial issues and "Back Lives Matter," a movement that emerged in wake of police shootings in America.
"The chapter on Black Lives Matter that is so eye-opening and brilliant about that organization, even if you're not a Sheriff Clarke fan," French said. "It's worth the price of the book itself just to read that chapter. He's also an expert on national defense and terror."
French said she's unsure whether Clarke aspires to higher political office either as a governor to replace Gov. Scott Walker or as a member of Trump's cabinet.
"You may wonder why he is the way he is," French said. "He's so emphatic that everyone take responsibility for themselves, which is a great American attribute."
Clarke's father, a paratrooper with the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company, raised him in an environment of trust. He used to let Clarke pack his parachute at age 8.
"He knew if he made a mistake, his dad would die," French said. "Finding out that was very poignant to me."
French became close to many of her subjects, including Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, and her daughter Bristol.
"I love the Palin family," French said. "I have talked to her 10 times in the last six hours. We collaborate on a lot of things. I love my clients so much. As a ghostwriter, my relationship with them is somehow like a counselor, somehow like a best friend, somehow a confessional like a priest. It's all of those rolled into one. And I am responsible for making their story as enticing as possible.
"The one thing I don't like about ghostwriters is they get close to celebrities and do tell-all books," she continued. "I get close to celebrities and appreciate them so much. I develop this close relationship. I have a very close and trusting relationship with everyone I have written about."
When John McCain chose Palin as his running mate in 2008, she only had been governor of Alaska for two years. Some thought she was not ready for prime time, but French disagreed with that analysis.
"She was perfectly capable of being rolled out when she was rolled out," French said. "The press hates strong political women who are conservative. They did everything in their power to assassinate her character and her intelligence.
"No woman has been treated like Sarah Palin in the history of American politics," she said. "It's reprehensible what the press did to her. I don't think the McCain campaign handled it properly. There were many who supported McCain because of Palin. She was a breath of fresh air. I hate all that happened to her. I hate seeing the affect of politics on a family."
French knows the impact of politics on a family first hand. She was criticized for a book she and David wrote about his experience in Iraq. Media outlets erroneously reported she and her husband came to an agreement that she would not use e-mail or social media while he was stationed in Iraq.
In "Home and Away," a book co-written by the two, they revealed they set up rules for their marriage to keep it strong while French was gone. A Harvard educated attorney, French went to war as an Army reservist in 2007.
"I am thankful for freedom of speech," Nancy said. "We complained a little bit because we wanted people to see the underbelly of what was going on at the time.
"Some of the stuff written was just flat wrong, like the stuff about our e-mail and social media while David was away. We did talk about how our marriage would stay strong while he was deployed in Iraq. The unknown story of the war was, people would land in Iraq and be greeted with divorce papers. It was awful. Men would be at war and look on Facebook and see their wives with another man. So we did not have to worry about what was happening at home, we just made some basic rules. The liberal media got a hold of it and make me out to be subservient, which was asinine. I am a professional person. I was working three jobs while David was away at war."
French said she was proud her husband was considered as a presidential candidate. She said she was just as proud that he turned down the opportunity.
"It wasn't the right thing to do," French said. "It was the right thing to consider it. It would not be good for America for David French to run for president and affect the race in the way he undoubtedly would have. I am thankful David is the kind of man who can decline power. He is a really great, rare person. He is very smart and not seeking the limelight."
David and she write from their home in the Zion community of Columbia. Their daughter, Camille, was the valedictorian for the Class of 2017 at Zion Christian Academy.
"We don't even have a home office," she said. "He writes from the bedroom. We stuck a desk in there. I write from the kitchen. We're happy in Columbia, writing."
The presidential campaign experience came in handy for her next book. Instead of ghostwriting a biography, French is writing a novel about a woman and her family unwittingly pulled into national spotlight when her husband decides to run for president.
"It's based on what happened last summer, but it is not the actual events," French said. "I'm going to have some fun with this one."


James Bennett is editor of The Daily Herald. Contact him at

Monday, February 6, 2017

Hillary Clinton Ghostwriter Barbara Todd

Confessions of a Washington Book Ghost Writer - Hire a Book Ghost!

Behind many a politician’s book, there’s an invisible ghost writer who gets to see what the author is really like. In an adaptation from her new memoir, Barbara Feinman Todd dishes on her career as the go-to book ghostwriter for some of Washington’s biggest bylines.

Book Ghost Writer for Hillary Clinton

Photograph by Hugh Kretchmer.

For many years, I helped people in this town write books. First as a researcher and then as a collaborator and ghostwriter. Before I ultimately laid to rest my ghostwriting career, the identities I came to inhabit included an African princess, a member of Congress with a “female problem,” a congresswoman who took on the male-dominated Congress, a Middle East peace negotiator, a tire magnate turned Republican presidential candidate, and, most notably, a First Lady who would later become a two-time presidential candidate and nearly the 45th President of the United States.
This wasn’t the path I’d envisioned for myself as a creative-writing student at UC Berkeley in the ’80s. I’d had some vague and lofty notion I would write novels or screenplays or, Lord have mercy, poetry. Being a ghost isn’t something a person aspires to.
But in 1983, I got what I considered to be my lucky break—to work as a research assistant for the biggest brand in Washington journalism, Bob Woodward, first on his A1 newspaper stories for the Washington Post, then on one of his blockbuster books, Veil, about William Casey’s CIA. Jobs on additional high-profile books followed, including a memoir by Woodward’s Watergate partner, Carl Bernstein, and the autobiography of legendary editor Ben Bradlee. Eventually, I transitioned to book doctor and ghostwriter for several political books, including Hillary Clinton’s It Takes a Village.
I’m asked all the time what it was like to be a book ghostwriter. People are curious about it because it’s one of the few occupations that give you access to what famous people are really like when they aren’t on the public stage. Here’s what I learned.
As a ghost, there’s no room for your ego in Washington. I was only 23 when I began working for Woodward and suddenly found myself interesting to people who I thought were more interesting than I was. This proximity to fame and power was intoxicating, even for a constitutionally camera-shy person like me—until I attended a dinner party during which I realized that every question directed at me sought my latest subject’s opinion on that year’s presidential campaign. Unsolicited, I offered my own take: “I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone would ever want to be President of the United States. It just seems like the most thankless job ever. Power is overrated.”
A pall fell over the table, no one responded, and then everyone started talking over one another as though I hadn’t spoken. I spent the rest of the evening pretending I wasn’t there, which was easy because everyone else did, too.
Humiliation came in all forms. When Woodward’s book was done, he arranged for me to help Bernstein with an unfinished book and I prepared to move temporarily to New York. There was just one thing, Woodward said, seeming uncharacteristically flustered. He uttered something to the effect of “I’m sure you’ve heard about Carl and women?”
I nodded.
He went on: “I just want you to know I’ve talked to Carl about this, since you’ll be staying in his apartment.”
He laughed nervously.
I was both mortified—picture talking about sex with your father—but also slightly pleased that he thought Carl might behave badly around me. It meant he thought I had game. Of course, I then remembered a line from Nora Ephron’s roman √† clef that was inspired by her disastrous, imploding-on-the-gossip-pages marriage to Carl, who had cheated on her, while she was pregnant, with the British ambassador’s wife, Margaret Jay. Nora described the Carl character as “capable of having sex with a Venetian blind.”
Politicians order up a finished book as if it were a bacon cheeseburger, not realizing that a good book takes patience.This was a perennial struggle, because no trait is more important for a ghost than empathy, and that takes face time to develop. One way I’d do it was to make myself a fly on the wall by observing my subjects with their children.
To witness Hillary preoccupied by 15-year-old Chelsea’s stomachache after school one day underscored that no matter how famous a person is, she still worries about her child the way the rest of us do. When I worked on a book about women in Congress, A Woman’s Place, by newly elected representative Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, I met her family so I could actualize the political commitments to women and children that she championed. What happens when you need more access to your own author and you can’t get it? You plumb your own memories. I may not be a senator who has been caught in a compromising position, but I can dig into the reservoir of crappy things I’ve done and come up with something to feel bad about.
Sometimes you’re bewildered by the access you do get. In April 1995, I was called to the White House for a “debriefing” and escorted to the Solarium in the inner sanctum—a room where Mamie Eisenhower had held her bridge parties, Nixon had told his family he was resigning, and Reagan had recovered from John Hinckley’s attempt on his life. In the room this particular day was Jean Houston, a New Agey author and motivational speaker. It took a few minutes, but I finally figured out Houston was there as a psychic guide who would lead Hillary in a therapeutic exercise. I watched bug-eyed as Houston suggested Hillary close her eyes and imagine she were talking to Eleanor Roosevelt.
There they were together in the White House, the ghost of a former First Lady in conversation with the current First Lady, discussing the challenges of the job. Then Houston told Hillary to switch roles and inhabit Mrs. Roosevelt’s mind. Although what was unfolding before me was oddly familiar—the kind of Method acting I myself engaged in as another kind of ghost—I couldn’t believe I had been summoned to observe this deeply personal activity.
Your job is to make the book sound as if it came straight from the mouth of the subject—which in Washington is an occupational hazard. After reading a draft of a chapter I had just written for a new client—a member of the Washington aristocracy—he told me I made him sound depressed and regretful. I did because he was. I thought that illustrating his humility would make readers of regular means connect with him, but these qualities were diametrically opposed to my client’s vision of himself. (Sorry, I’m your ghost—not your shrink!)
Ghosting for Hillary turned up a variation on this problem. Even away from a Teleprompter, she talks in whole paragraphs, unlike the rest of us who interrupt ourselves with digressions and other random thoughts. She’s not a storyteller and resists revealing herself—I believe because she doesn’t trust what people will do with information that isn’t grounded in facts and data. (Can you blame her?) So what comes out of her mouth is like a ticker tape of policy material. This does not make for good copy. As the writer Joe Queenan once noted, her 592-page ghostwritten memoir, Living History, sounded like “the world’s longest speech.”
(Note: Clinton caused a scandal dubbed “Thankyougate” for failing to credit Todd as her book ghost writer on a big bestseller.)
I ran into this issue ad nauseam. After one particular snoozer of an interview for the book I worked on about women in Congress, I began asking a new question: “If your life as a congresswoman were a movie, what’s the defining moment?” Because I was asking them to imagine something, it yielded a more candid response. Sometimes they would stop themselves just as the material got interesting, becoming self-conscious. “Pretend I’m not here,” I would say.
Usually they would need more direction: “What’s the opening scene of this movie that would introduce the point you want to make about this place and yourself?” Then I’d move in for the specific, defining moment or detail. In journalism, this is called getting “the name of the dog,” as in tracking down the name of the dog/horse/turtle of the porn star/embezzler/tech-start-up CEO you’re profiling so you can make him three-dimensional.
With proximity to power comes an odd commingling of identities. Author Ben Yagoda once called this phenomenon a “weird version of Stockholm syndrome,” which I think nails it. One senator I worked with used all too frequently the political clich√© “leveling the playing field.” Even though it grated on my nerves, it eventually crept into my own conversations. Then there’s Hillary and her emphatic head-nodding. Ostensibly, this is a nonverbal signal that she’s listening and feeling your pain, though I came to wonder if it was more a tactic for keeping people at bay by listening instead of offering information. Nonetheless, I began nodding in just the same way.
Another manifestation of this identity-merging is that your subjects’ success becomes your success, and their failures yours. Same for their enemies. (I would bristle when I saw a particular talking head on television, because he was a harsh critic of one of the senators I ghosted for.) This has led, on a few occasions, to my wanting to fix things not just in my subjects’ books but also in their lives. That’s my only explanation for how I became a bit player in a foreign-embassy intrigue worthy of The Americans.
One day during an interview session, my client asked if I spoke French, because she needed a translator for an important meeting. Sadly, my high-school French wouldn’t suffice, but I volunteered that one of my best friends had studied at the Sorbonne and might be game. The next day, the two of us showed up for the meeting, which turned out to be in a Georgetown hotel penthouse. The drapes were drawn, the lights were off, and bodyguards stood silently in the foyer, armed and wearing tinted glasses and impressive scowls. Not part of the conversation, I sat across the room on a couch, just out of earshot, catching only snippets of French and English.
Afterward on the street, my friend, wide-eyed and breathless, told me that the conversation had involved a Swiss bank account and a government shakeup. The mysterious scene obviously wasn’t going to end up in the book I was ghosting, but decades later, my friend and I still get a laugh out of it.
There are all kinds of ways you might become a pawn. I worked as a researcher on Bernstein’s book, Loyalties, about his parents’ experience of being harassed by the FBI, during the Red Scare, for being Communists. Just after he handed in his manuscript, Carl invited me to his family’s Passover Seder. I knew Mr. and Mrs. Bernstein were nervous about their son’s book and that there might be tension. I didn’t realize how much.
Carl kept dodging his parents’ questions about the book, so they redirected them to me—When would it come out? How long was it? What did I think of it? As I fumbled through my answers, trying to be diplomatic, it dawned on me that Carl had brought me along less for breaking matzo with his loved ones than because I could serve as an unwitting human shield on the battlefield of the Bernstein family’s unresolved issues.
If you don’t do it for too long, ghostwriting can be a kick and not feel exploitive. As vexing as the whole business of midwifing others’ books became, it gave me the opportunity to go places I never would have gone on my own: flying on Air Force One with the First Lady so she could appear on Oprah; joining the President and his wife for an impromptu private dinner (try managing cutlery in the presence of the leader of the free world); watching Annie Leibovitz at work during a Vanity Fair photo shoot of Ben Bradlee; standing in the wings as a Republican presidential candidate taped a commercial with live grizzly bears (I don’t need to do that again).
But you have to think about your own legacy and reputation—because no one else will. I had reservations about helping on It Takes a Village because it was partly a damage-control operation for the riddled-with-scandal Clinton administration. I took the gig against my better instincts. I ended up having to hire a lawyer when I was deposed by the Senate counsel on the Whitewater controversy because I’d had the bad luck to stay overnight at the White House during a period when the First Lady’s missing subpoenaed billing records from the Rose Law Firm suddenly reappeared—in a room very close to where I was sleeping and working. Getting caught up in that mishegoss became a lifelong regret.
Barbara Feinman Todd Hillary Clinton Book Ghostwriter
If you do get deposed, do not treat it as an opportunity to try out your new comedy routine. Seriously. Although my lawyer issued stern instructions—“Stick to yes or no”; “You’re not a guest on Late Night”—I couldn’t resist cracking a joke whenever I saw an opportunity. I ended up with a summons to reappear for televised hearings.
The ghost/author relationship is often like marriage: You enter it full of hope, but its chance of survival is 50-50. And being the less powerful half of the marriage means you’re likely the one who’ll get stomped on. When It Takes a Villagewas published in 1996, Hillary chose not to acknowledge me as her ghost—for reasons that to this day have never been explained. This was a slight to my ego, but it also threatened my earning capacity, because ghostwriters get their gigs through word of mouth and the acknowledgments pages of books.
Lucky for me, the backlash, dubbed “Thankyougate,” was strong and swift. And the way the First Lady responded made it even worse for her. Rather than backpedal, she and her PR machine doubled down and looked petty by inviting journalists to the White House to see her legal pads of handwritten manuscript pages—supposed proof that she’d written the book herself. Had she just noted that due to a demanding schedule and a tight deadline, she needed some editorial assistance, no one would have noticed or cared.
I can’t tell you how many times I thought back to that debacle during last year’s election cycle, when I watched her hubris, her penchant for secrecy, and her poor judgment—particularly in owning her own stumbles—combine to bungle her responses to the flaps involving her e-mail server, her speeches to Wall Street, and her “basket of deplorables” comment. (You probably want to know: Did I vote for her last year? I did. But in my heart it was a vote against Trump.)
Politicians and operatives really do create their own versions of “facts” and “truth.” When the White House decided to issue a press release about my contribution to It Takes a Village in order to tamp down Thankyougate, Maggie Williams, Hillary’s chief of staff, faxed me a draft of the release. It was cordial and stated that the First Lady had relied on me for early drafts over a six-month period. But that wasn’t true. So I called the East Wing and said the timeline needed to be corrected.
“I worked on the book for eight months,” I told Maggie.
Her response: “Would you take seven?”
If I had to do it over again, would I become a ghostwriter? It’s painful to admit, but no.
“Authors” resent you for needing you. You resent them for resenting you. Even when things go well—such as when a book lands on the bestseller list—you can find yourself questioning your decisions later, as we saw when Tony Schwartz, Donald Trump’s ghostwriter on The Art of the Deal, issued his mea culpa for having helped puff up Trump into a celebrity all those years ago. I never cashed Schwartz-style royalty checks, but like him, I definitely made choices I regret. And I got burned by the Washington machine in the process.
I want to believe that the gravitational pull between me and ghosting was empathy, but it was more likely a convenient defense mechanism. It was much less of a risk to work on other people’s books—or so I thought—than to pursue my own projects. Now, more than 30 years after it all began, my memoir, Pretend I’m Not Here, is being published. I’m also at work on a historical novel set in Washington during the Lincoln administration. It would be great if these projects are well received, but even if they aren’t, I finally have the satisfaction of using my own voice to tell my own stories. That is, after all, the point of being a writer, at least the sort of writer I once dreamed of becoming.
Adapted from “Pretend I’m Not Here: How I Worked With Three Newspaper Icons, One Powerful First Lady, and Still Managed to Dig Myself Out of the Washington Swamp,” published this month. Copyright © 2017 by Barbara Feinman Todd. Used by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Washingtonian.
Book Ghost for Hillary Clinton
Barbara Feinman Todd got her start in the
1980s as a researcher for Bob Woodward.
Photo by Lisa Berg.