I’ve ghosted books on nearly every conceivable subject.  The first question every new ghostwriting client asks is, “Are you an expert or do you know anything about [fill in the blank]?”  My answer is usually always the same: “No.”

So how do I do what I do?  Furthermore, why do these people hire me nonetheless?

Answer: While it is somewhat helpful to know a little about a subject before ghostwriting about it, it is absolutely unneccessary to be an expert.  Why?  Because the client is the expert.  If I were both the expert as well as the (semi) talented writer, why the heck would I need the client in the first place?

Every field of interest has that dreaded thing called “jargon.”  Experts use jargon endlessly and without pause.  It is the language of their field.  Fortunately or unfortunately, when people reach out for a ghostwriter, it is because they are looking for an audience beyond the narrowness of their field and its accepted experts.

Enter The Dejargonizer.  This is my superhero name.  When my client rambles on about “Invertilizing the DRC of the SMU, we econometrically strafe the LLG, which leaves us in a much better astrometrical situation,” I get to stand up and scream, “Enough!  What the hell does that mean?”  As The Dejargonizer, I get to revel in my ignorance.  My lack of expertise is my greatest weapon.  When a client says, “Wow, you really are stupid,” I get to respond by saying, “Thank you.”

I take jargon and make it understandable.  This is not “dumbing down.”  I hate that phrase.  It is “universalizing.”  You can be a genius expert in one field and totally lost in the jargon of another.  This is not a measure of IQ.  Writing is communication.  I am hired by those who are often relatively poor communicators.

Yes, conveying this at an initial hiring interview is dicey, but since I am a paid communicator, my first job, my proving ground, is to get my potential client to understand all this.  If I am successful, I am hired … and my follow-up novel is pushed back that much more on my life-calender, but at least the bills are paid that month.

It also helps that I am old as the hills.  Ghostwriting is actually one of the few occupations where, I believe, the elderly (like me) are at an advantage.  When I am asked if I know anything about [fill in the blank], there is a far greater chance that I at least have a nodding knowledge of it simply through life experience.  A long life has also taught me humility.  I used to be really, really smart, but now I’m dumb as a tree stump.  This ingratiates me to people; don’t ask me why.  I seem less apt to try to take over someone else’s dream project and make it my own.  I don’t feel the need to do such things.  In the end, this is the client’s dream, not mine.  When I was younger, I doubt I would have understood that.

Yoda smoking

“I’m sorry, young Skywalker, but you are far too headstrong to ghostwrite my memoirs.”