Rodney Moore is a ghostwriter for entrepreneurs, innovators, mavericks and thought leaders and also copywrites and offers creative copy direction for established brands, emerging start-ups and product companies. Learn more at rodneyjmoore.com.
Looking back, what do you wish you knew getting started as a writer? What would you tell your younger self?
There isn’t one way to do this. If you live long enough, and let’s hope you do, you’ll have to pivot several times. Be prepared to adjust to things outside of your control and take risks. Try to see ahead so you can be ready to meet the demands of new types of outlets and platforms. Say yes to things you don’t think you’re ready for. Never stop learning.
If you could go back and change anything about your writing career, is there anything you would choose to do differently?
Even though I wasn’t drawn to it, I might have chosen to start my career writing for a newspaper. I think it could have served me well to have that experience of meeting a consistent deadline and covering a beat. I had my sights set on magazine writing so I never really considered a newspaper job.
What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to be a writer?
Choose another career. Kidding. It’s a challenging career path and there is a lot of rejection along the way. It’s often best to learn to be your worst critic, which means you are relentless about editing and improving your own work. Don’t fall in love with your own prose. And the people who love you aren’t always the best sounding boards for your work.
How do you balance your own projects with your ghostwriting projects?
It often depends on how many projects I have at any given time. While it isn’t necessarily the best approach, I’ll sometimes wait until I have more space to work on personal projects. This means personal projects have to wait their turn and maybe won’t get the traction I would like since I’ll prioritize paying projects with deadlines.
What makes a successful ghostwriter?
The same attributes that make any successful writer: patience, dogged determination, flexibility, business smarts, adaptability, interviewing skills, researching ability, a thick skin, versatility, negotiation skills, objectivity, practice, great mentors and teachers, good friends and the occasional beer or preferred beverage.
How often do you take on ghostwriting projects? What have you learned from those experiences?
Like many other ghostwriters, it depends on how many projects are lined up at any given time. I try not to overburden myself, but it can be hard to say no to a project that seems like a good match when I already have a full plate. It’s best to find a comfort level with your ideal project balance.
Any interesting stories from clients that you’ve ghost/written for?
They’re all interesting stories since everyone’s story is interesting in its own way. But the story I’ll tell is one about never know how long it will take to see a project through if it hits a few roadblocks. I started on a project with a client many years ago and after completing the proposal, the project was later sold to a major publisher. After the contract negotiation, the client ended up having second thoughts and decided not to go through with the book. My lesson learned was, nothing is ever a sure thing. Although, I do hold out hope that the client could change her mind one day.
How is working with business leaders different or similar to other people?
Certainly business leaders can have egos, but I’ve found many to be very humble and generous. It almost always comes down to finding a comfort level with how a business leader likes to work with a collaborator. It’s important to establish rapport and also set boundaries around the working relationship. Mutual give and take is normal in most business relationships.
What’s it like to work with companies versus individuals?
I’m very accustomed to working with companies since my previous work has been primarily with Fortune 500 firms such as UPS, McKesson and HCA. One of the differences between companies and individuals is you are typically working with multiple people or stakeholders at companies versus just one person on individual projects. One of my first ghostwriting projects was for the CEO of a large consulting firm and many of the team leaders and subject matter experts. The challenge was to create something that was cohesive given the number of different voices contributing to the project. In the end, the client was very pleased with how I was able to incorporate the voices into one overall ‘brand’ representation and viewpoint.
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