The Five Biggest Enemies of Being a Highly Successful Ghostwriter

Ghostwriters all of us are a peculiar breed. We’re the ancient wild Prezwalski Horse, the Blue Bird with burnished orange vest, the multi-coloured Betta with gills flaring when enemies threaten. And enemies we have, most notably and notoriously the mysterious, scary, beguiling axis of blockage known as Me, Myself and I.

Private Enemy #1:

…Is Me, Myself, and I, because it is the repressed spirit inside of Us who has shackled and bolted itself tightly to the wall of complacency or fear or gaggle of excuses that would make a goose choke. Geese truly choke? You must be sheeting me! I thought they only honked.

But yes, it is You who are feeding Yourself subliminal messaging that is stopping you from unlocking those shackles and escaping the trap that (it turns out) you have laid for yourself. So herewith the keys to fly high into the ghostwriting sky…and soar!

Private Enemy #2:

…Is (for most of you) Your Online Personae, currently a toxic by-product of the Me, Myself, and I axis that hardly represents who you are, why you should be hired as a ghostwriter, what placing trust in You means, and where You can be seen and admired in all of your soaring glory.

Indeed, what you currently have as your online personae may derive from that honking gaggle of excuses that often block your actions, you know: money, time, and you’re just not sure what to do — that may well be a by-product of your not growing up with a digital device sown to your hand.

So here’s how you must present your online personae:

Your Author Website

Is absolutely totally without any question of any kind whatsoever…the most critical portrait of yourself. It must display:

  • Your catchy pithy clever wordiness or lack thereof.
  • Your prior books ghostwritten or |with written and as illustrated by their vibrant book covers,
  • Your book reviews,
  • Your collaboration reviews,
  • Your prior life if you’ve double-flipped to the present, and/or your ongoing life if you haven’t, and  
  • Most importantly, Your writing and life spirit.

Because, when all is said and done, that last factor may well be the most important of all. As Exhibit A of what I mean in the flesh, go to SteveEgglestonWrites.com.

Your Social Media

…Is also critical, so do not let the triumvirate fool you. Your social media are the gales and winds and fury that lift you high into the sky, where your ghostwriting banner can be seen by all who dare to look into the bright, shining sun that’s (hopefully) their next book written in collaboration with You.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube – all must be resonate and glowing and seamlessly similar but different…as if deigned with the touch of your favorite interior designer.  

Here are mine, illustrating that for all of us our online personae is always a work-in-progress that rises and expands and blooms as we get smarter and bigger and the chipping away and stacking of the individual bricks starts to make a difference:

Private Enemy #3:

…Is Your paucity of credited books, which makes it difficult for anyone to place confidence in Your ability to do the job at hand: ghostwrite their baby.

It’s the curse of the ghostwriter that we often must sign Non-disclosure Agreements (NDAs) that bar us from disclosing our involvement as a writer on our books; but we must be self-preservationists, mustn’t we? For otherwise we’ve put ourselves out of business.

So here are some magical “tricks” to this ghostwriting science-and-art that we pursue as a trade.

First and foremost, ask for credit in your Writer’s Agreement or Writer’s Deal Memo. I stipulate that my book covers and all media should read be as follows: “Subject | with Steve Eggleston.”

Take a look at the book cover for Conquering Your Adversities, by Dr. Kenneth Polke | with Steve Eggleston, which illustrates my meaning eloquently:

If that is not in the cards for the Hiring Party, then so be it. But if you don’t ask, you shall not receive, right?

And here’s a related suggestion, secondly and somewhat foremostly. Even if the Hiring Party doesn’t want to extend you the contractual right to have your name on the book, include a little proviso that states: “The Hiring Party shall have the right to include Author’s name on the book with the agreement of author if, after the book is written, it is warranted.”

This little proviso at least gets the Hiring Party thinking about it, and from experience I can tell you that your contribution if significant enough will compel many HPs to offer to include your name, deservedly, with theirs.

And you could say, it also gives you an incentive to do your very best so that the book when it garners your authorship credit creates confidence in people googling for ghostwriters and finding You.

Private Enemy #4:

Is Your lack of amazing book reviews from respected authors, authorities in the field, and readers.

Of Conflicted, my debut legal thriller, now 10x New York Times bestselling legal thriller writer John Lescroart wrote this review (and thus landed on my cover):  

“Killer book. I loved every page of it…CONFICTED is a total winner on every level. Great courtroom stuff, great characters, great plot, narrative mega-drive and – in Dave Splatter, P.I. – a stand-alone hero for the ages.”

How in holy you-know-what did I manage to get this review, without a traditional monster publisher behind me? I messaged John on Facebook and he, quite magnanimously, agreed to review it because Peter Miller was my agent.

The power of this single review cannot be undersold. All ghosts when writing their own books should aspire to this, reaching out personally to anyone whose name matters.

On Dr. Polke’s book mentioned above, his publisher submitted the Beta Review copy for review to dozens of impressive people Ken knew from his life’s travails. Those reviews were and are quite spectacular (see here), but not for what you might think.

Sure, the book was good, if I might say, but for ghostwriting purposes this one review below is more important than all the rest:


“Conquering Your Adversities is delightful. Ken Polke writes in the manner and style in which I have encountered him—engaging, smart, and reflective. Not only does he give readers insight into the Boomer generation, but his reflective questions at the end of each chapter give readers an opportunity to go deeper into their lives to make clearer choices for their futures. These questions come out of the author’s faith background and are both self-help and spiritually-oriented. As a Catholic priest who lived through the years Ken writes about, I recommend this book for enjoyment and for the spiritual and historical journey you will encounter in its pages.”

Father Raymond Thomas, Pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Ashtabula, Ohio


Now the reason I quote this review in full is because otherwise God is devilled in the detail. The single most important result a ghostwriter can achieve, in my humble experience and as assured me by many a client, before and after hire, is to put their voice to the page. And that’s what Father Thomas noted. And for this reason, I emphasize this to potential clients, as they ponder the weighty decision of whether to lay down hard-earned cash for my ghostwriting services.

Private Enemy #5:

Is Your absence of any reviews of your work as a collaborator qua collaborator. I can’t tell you how many artist websites, many exceptionally conceived, lack a single reference to the author’s innate skills, natural empathy, and teamspersonship as a collaborative ghostwriter.

How well You as an author are able to enthusiastically work with others, painstakingly bring out the best story points from the chaos, and jointly and robustly execute from the torn and withered and wicked path of someone’s life…to reduce all things to the digital page – is of utter importance to the Hiring Party.

Your ability to collaborate is HUGE, because that is what you will be doing, yet obviously, this particular review cannot and never will appear on a book cover – not only because you’re an unaccredited ghost, because sometimes you’re not, but because that skill is irrelevant to the book’s potential buyers and readers.

What I’ve found instead is that freelance sites like Upwork.com (see mine here) provide munchy tasty yummy fodder for these type of reviews, which can then be transposed onto your Author website. Proof being in the pudding, amongst many other things, I provide you these examples from Upwork and quoted on my own Author website:

“I want to begin by thanking my dear friend, Steve Eggleston. Steve has provided me with the treasured feedback I needed while writing my memoir. At all hours of the night, I contacted Steve to discuss the innumerable ideas that bounced back and forth in my head like ping pong balls. Steve helped me remain focused on a vision greater than myself. His infectious personality and the positive influence of his belief in my potential inspired me to write the best manuscript I could write. Without Steve’s exceptional lens and perspectives, I would not have been able to realize my dream memoir. In this process, I sharpened my craft in the beautiful art of writing and grew as a writer by following the footsteps of this acclaimed author and illustrious gentleman of the first order.”

— Steeve Simbert1/6/2018


“Steve Eggleston is one of the most professional writers I have ever dealt with. I spent 21 + years in the motion picture industry and never have I been more impressed with someone’s work ethic, meeting milestones, researching nearly every subject matter in our Novel and going the extra mile to continually improve our joint work. A very rare individual indeed. We actually spent the last three weeks plus working side by side to improve our Novel from very good to what I believe will be a Best Seller. I would be please to personally discuss anything further about Steve with anyone. SIMPLY AN AMAZING INDIVIDUAL!”

Book: The Food Mafia, by Jon Gordon & Steve Eggleston – $22,500 10/16/2016

Review by multiple, award-winning British author (of 24+ fiction and non-fiction works) Piers Paul Reed said: “Hi, Jon. Many congratulations to you and Steve Eggleston on The Food Mafia. It is quite a saga, with convincing detail, and all the feeling that comes from your own experience. It should be a best-seller. Best wishes, Piers.”

“The best editor yet. Thanks a million, Steve. You’ve been a great help, well beyond what I expected.” – CRITIQUE MY MANUSCRIPT 5/26/2016

“Another home run on up work! This guy is extremely smart! He is fast. He worked on the weekend and went over and above the call of duty to get things done. I would highly recommend Steve. I will work with Steve over and over again! Not only is he a lawyer-but he is a shrewd businessman. I couldn’t ask for a better freelancer. Thank you Upwork!” MARKETING FOR CELEB HYPNOTIST AS SEEN ON MTV (February 2016): 2/8/2016

“The Eggman411 did a wonderful job of keeping our project moving forward at the agreed to costs. He is energetic and very positive to work with and helps bring a team together. His knowledge about legal and business was valuable along the way of the entire process. I plan on using him again in the near future.” –STARTUP CONSULTING/WEB CONTENT WRITING/BUSINESS PLAN UPDATING 1/17/2015

WOW! GREAT work! Better than anticipated, better than I knew it could be. 

“You did in a couple of days what would have taken me a couple of months to do without you, and my work would not have been in the same league as yours. Quick, perfectionistic, personable, and professional. What else could I want? That is easy, to work together again!” (Apr 2014 – Review on Upwork) 4/9/2014

“Freelancer went above and beyond what I was expecting. I already have other projects lined up with him. I highly recommend!” – BOOK PROPOSAL 3/2/2014

And there you have it. Conquer these five enemies and engage strong Google ads campaign and the only thing between you and an enormously successful ghostwriting career is time itself…and of course, that same little axis of blockage which will rear their little heads and create grief and delays and consternation in the writing process itself; but that’s an article for another day.

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