Interview With Founder Of Gotham Ghostwriters, Dan Gerstein
1. Dan, what led you to launch Gotham Ghostwriters?
Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I stumbled across an unmet need in the marketplace after I moved to New York several years ago. There was a tremendous demand for great writing, especially among thought leaders. There was also a terrific supply of elite freelance writing talent out there. But there was no place or way for them to find each other. So I came up with a novel solution — a matchmaking service that would help leaders, thinkers, and speakers connect with the right writing partner to tell their stories and sell their ideas.
2. What does your company do and what makes it uniquely positioned in the marketplace?
We have developed the largest network of specialized long-form writing pros in the country — more than 2000 ghostwriters, book editors, speechwriters, white paper whizzes, etc. And that puts us in the unique position to not just find a few good generalists for any given client's needs, but to recruit, vet, and recommend multiple writers who specialize in the format and have a knowledge base in the subject matter. If you can dream it, we can write it.
3. Who usually needs a ghostwriter and why?
Most of our clients are leaders in their field — business, politics, advocacy, higher education, etc. — who have stories and ideas they want to share but don’t have the time or the capabilities to write a book or draft a speech on their own. They are coming to us because they appreciate the value and power of great writing and care deeply about the quality of the content they are going to put out into the marketplace under their own name.
4. How do you make sure a good match takes place between writer and client?
Much like the three key words in real estate are location, location, location, our mantra is listening, listening, listening. We invest meaningful time up front to get a clear understanding of our clients’ motivations, priorities, and preferences. And then we use that guidance as a roadmap for the searches we do. We start by evaluating the writer’s credentials and work-product, but we will also screen for intangible qualities like style and personality. The key element in our method, though, is that we engage the client directly in the vetting process, encouraging them to do at least one round and often two interviews, so they can find out which writer they will click with best.
5. What challenges does your service face?
Probably the biggest handicap for us is our inherent invisibility. To stay true to the ghost code and respect our client’s confidentiality, we don’t identify who the businesses and people we work with. That can make it very difficult to market and credential ourselves to leaders, thinkers, and speakers who would be interested in our services but want to know if they can trust us. Another related challenge is that because our field is so opaque, there is no standardization or understanding of fees. So it’s difficult for customers to comparison shop.
6. Writers often complain they struggle to make a living penning words. Can one make bank some dough by being a ghostwriter?
Not only can you make a living, but I’d contend that ghostwriting is the most lucrative form of writing work available today. Indeed, many of the top book ghostwriters, speechwriters, and thought leadership specialists in our network earn well over $200,000, and many, many more easily clear $100,000. That’s because of the convergence of several forces in the marketplace — the huge value placed on thought leadership, the exploding demand for content marketing, and the democratizing of the publishing marketplace — all of which together are fueling intense demand for writers for hire with highly specialized skills.
7. What are your impressions about where things are heading for the book publishing industry?
We are in the midst of a sea change in the book market that before too long will rock the traditional publishing industry to its core. There’s a significant and expanding community of authors who have different goals for their book beyond selling units — be it promoting their business to expanding their personal brand to simply being first to market with their ideas. The rigid, sales-driven business model of traditional publishers is increasingly ill-equipped to serve their interests. And if these legacy companies don’t adapt, pretty soon it won’t just be Amazon who is eating their lunch.
8. What do enjoy most in working with a collection of very talented and creative writers?
What I love most about what we do is that we get to bring great stories to life — and bring great value to the profession of writing — simply by bringing people together who can’t find each other on their own.
This article originally appeared on Book Marketing Buzz Blog.