I could not have asked for a more cooperative and skilled writer/contractor to help us with a difficult project. Ed is what I would call a value-added provider, doing his work diligently while adding worthwhile suggestions to the mix and going the extra mile to make the project a success. – Mel Hecker, Publications Officer, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
I worked with Ed as the author of The Life of Charles Stewart Mott: Industrialist, Philanthropist, Mr. Flint. In addition to crafting a well-researched biography and all around “great read”, Ed was enthusiastic, responsive and creative in all elements of the book’s development and promotion. His publishing and communications background is a bonus to his skill and style as an author. – Raquel Thueme, President, The Ruth Mott Foundation
I’m a ghost. A ghostwriter, to be specific. In addition to ghosting business books, memoirs, and biographies, I write my own books. These have been published by such houses as Crown, Doubleday, Simon & Schuster, Oxford University Press, Basic, and the University of Michigan Press. They’ve been reviewed with favor in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, etc. (In short, I am simply fabulous.) But I also enjoy writing books that publish with other people’s names on them rather than my own.
The woods are full of us ghosts these days. Plenty of competition. Or so it seems, until you realize that the bar for entry is pretty low, and the genuine qualified competition pretty scarce. I remember reading a piece of criticism written during the early days of the 1960s folk music revival. The writer noted that all you seemed to need to be a folksinger was a guitar, the ability to play three chords, and some “dirty jeans.” Perhaps that was true, until you began playing and singing. Music is not opaque. It is, rather, quite transparent. One either has the skills or one doesn’t, and one’s talent or lack thereof becomes plainly self-evident after the first few notes. No amount of hype – “they loved me in Pittsburgh,” “I did a sold-out show in Milwaukee” – will rescue you once your simple strumming becomes tiresome and your off-key singing begins to grind on people’s ears. Members of your audience soon realize they would each rather be held hostage by Jihadists, chained to a radiator in some Beirut basement, than listen to your noise for one more minute.
Wannabe ghostwriters don’t have this problem of transparency. Who’s to dispute the claim that a particular writer has ghosted “dozens” of manuscripts which have gone on to be sold to major publishing houses? Who’s to say that he or she doesn’t have numerous professional contacts in the industry, and is willing to bug the crap out of them until they offer you a million bucks for the manuscript he or she will ghost for you? But on the other hand who’s to say they’ve written anything at all that anyone has ever paid one thin dime for? Ghostwriting is, by its nature, a confidential and quiet collaboration: opaque and unadvertised. So building a resume and supplying references is a tricky business. This is why a significant publishing record of your own, a publishing record such as I have, is a handy thing to possess. It is also why I made sure to place this salient fact in my first paragraph above. That, along with the related fact that I am, as I said, simply fabulous.
Actually, however, I am probably not all that fabulous. Though every book I’ve ever ghosted has been published and well-received, I’ve only ghosted a few. Why? Because unlike many ghostwriters, if you approach me with a book idea that I don’t think will sell, I am definitely going to tell you. I don’t want to take your money under false pretenses. I’ve got plenty of work, and I’d rather feel good about my work than feel like I am wasting your time and dollars.
Also, I don’t ghostwrite fiction. Others do. But for the life of me, I can’t even imagine how that would work. “So, Mr. Dickens, let me see if I have this right. You want a novel about a kid named Pip of whom some people have great expectations. He finds an escaped convict in a graveyard and, under threat of harm, tries to help him elude those who pursue him. This proves a failure, and the convict is promptly recaptured and sent to prison in New South Wales. Later on Pip is forced to play regularly with a weird little girl, Estella, in a spooky mansion owned by an ancient madwoman who, having been stood up at the altar in her youth, wears her ragged wedding dress day-in and day-out and keeps her rotting, sixty-year-old wedding cake on a center table in the dining room. In time, Pip is made the recipient of a trust fund provided by a mysterious source. Although he suspects the nutty old lady, the source in the end turns out to be the convict he’d encountered years before who, after his release from prison, has gone on to become rich in New South Wales. The convict eventually repatriates to England, even though as part of his sentence he’s been banned to return at risk of death. He is discovered and bound over for trial but dies in prison before the trial takes place. In the meantime, Pip has somehow discovered that Estella, now grown, is the convict’s illegitimate daughter, and tells the convict of this before the old man dies. Does that about sum it up, Mr. Dickens? And you say you want 150,000 words? I suppose we can have it by Tuesday. Is Tuesday alright with you, Mr. Dickens?”
If you’d like to speak with me about a project, please don’t hesitate to make contact and we’ll set up a time for a telephone or Skype conversation. I promise to be nice. But I’m also going to be honest. By the way, in addition to telephone and Skype and its variants, I’m readily available for in-person conversations in Manhattan, Boston, and Providence.