These articles written for Asta Publications

 

Ghostwriting on the Menu:  A Minimalist Guide to the Industry

 

            Recently, the head chef at the spanish restaurant, of which I’m employed, presented me with a new dish. 

            “What is it?” I queried. 

            “Just try,” was hisunadorned reply. 

            The dish was simple, delicious, and took no more than a bite for me to realize his achievement.  The chef had created the experience of enjoying a traditional margarita pizza (flatbread, fresh basil, tomato, and mozzarella) in a single bite.  Now, where could I possibly be going with this you may understandably be asking yourself.  Well, the flavor and technique that the chef achieved would mean nothing unless it could be promoted (to sell it, to make one salivate from description, so to speak).  The chef, who primarily speaks spanish then asked me to write it up for the menu. 

            “Wait a minute,” I thought.  “This is eerily coincidental to a blog on ghostwriting that I’m having trouble beginning,” and there you have it.  The restaurant has one of its now most popular dishes, Cherries Margarita: locally farmed cherry tomatoes roasted in spanish olive oil, infused with basil and oregano, finished in GranDaisy breadcrumbs and toasted rosemary, $13.00; and I have an intro.  Now, one can see that ghostwriting is a broad industry, but who is seeking it out, why are they seeking it out, where can one find a ghostwriter, and finally how can they expect their experience to be?

            First of all, what exactly is a ghostwriter?  Put simply, it’s someone who writes something for someone else, and takes no credit (my name appears nowhere on the menu, for example).  Now, more importantly, who seeks out a ghostwriter?  The quick and easy answer may be, someone who can’t write; but this would also not be entirely correct.  The correct answer may be someone who isn’t comfortable in their writing ability, or actually more appropriately may be someone who doesn’t have time to write;  such as the celebrity, the CEO, the politician, or the musician that may feel the need to “strike while the iron’s hot.”  Recently a friend told me of a project in which he was writing Wee Man’s (of MTV’s Jackass “fame”) autobiography.

            “How’s it going?” I inquired. 

            “Not bad, I just need to finish Shaquille O’Neal’s introduction,” was his response.  I laughed, but was really asking myself how I could find a gig like that.

            Go on Craigslist on any given day, and under writing services you can find hundreds, if not thousands of writers willing to do your compositional bidding.  However, with so many choices, and such anonymity, how can one really know the talent that they are acquiring (let’s be honest, a good writer can make a really good fake resume).  The more intelligent and responsible approach may be for the client to seek out a licensed publication company that offers ghostwriting services. A company like Asta Publications for example (plug-plug), that takes a professional, interactive and logistical approach to satisfy its many busy client’s needs.

            Now, how does the process work?  Well, for the client it’s actually quite simple.  Bring an idea, a concept, a manuscript perhaps (though not necessary), some capital, and some patience (as little as 120 days with a company like Asta); and the ghostwriter will deliver back a finished product.  Now, for the ghostwriter the process is a little more complicated.  The ghostwriter should be prepared to take any concept they are presented, take the time to do many rewrites, take criticism, take satisfaction in a completed project, and take zero credit whatsoever.  Though many people may have trouble with that last lack of credit statement, the honest writer will know that though their name is not on the cover, they have advanced themselves on the road of becoming better at their craft (a writer writes).

            So, are you a busy television celebrity who’s window of viewer interest is closing (slowly, but be assured, surely), a celebrated CEO that is seeking more celebration and compensation, or a chef that wishes you could make skate fish with poison ivy sauce sound more appetizing?  Then you qualify as someone that should seek out a ghostwriter; and now you know how you to go about it.  Pescado Blanco Asado: locally caught Skate fish roasted in herb and Iberico ham compound butter, served with spicy radish and radicchio, finished with a Rhus Radicans creme’. 

 

 

For the Legitimately Motivated:  How to Become Self-Published

 

            I can recall an incident I had a while back at a bar I used to manage.  It was a slow day, and eventually the crowd had dwindled down to only myself and a lone customer. I proceeded to watch the customer consume one too many frozen margaritas, and then as they say in the bar business, he “turned the switch.” I then found myself on the receiving end of a barrage of non-related utterances. They were strung together by a man that I had determined was a loose cannon, an assumed crackpot if you will.  He assaulted me with his theories about the Obama administration, the imminent technological collapse of society and the rise of a Texan ideology. Politely, I informed him that I think he’d had enough, and perhaps it was time to be on his way.  He kindly agreed, took one final swig, smiled wide, and stated, “Thanks for giving a lonely poet your ear.” 

            “You got it,” I replied, and went about my work. 

When I next arrived to work, there was a book waiting for me: Thus Virginia Passes by James Browning Kepple.  I took it home, opened it up to find it was a book of poetry, began to read and found out it actually contained powerful and moving poetry.  “Who is this author?” I wondered.   After googling the name, I found that, sure enough, it was that “crackpot” from a few days earlier.  Now, though he may remain “cracked” in my eyes he had also shown himself to be a legitimate writer, all because he showed me a published work (a self-published work, as I would later find out). 

Why do I begin with my story of Mr. Kepple?  Because he has chosen to become a part of a growing industry that has a growing audience, a growing clientele and an alternative for many who are finding that traditional publishing has closed its doors.

            Sparticus, Chicken Soup for the Soul and The Joy of Cooking all share one interesting commonality, and it shouldn’t take a genius to realize where I’m going here.  All were self-published and all together have sold over a hundred million copies. Now, why did these authors choose to self-publish?  First of all, they appeared to have been extremely self-motivated people, and second, they all found the traditional publishing industry to be less than ideal (Howard Fast, author of Sparticus actually found himself blacklisted due to his allegedCommunist ties).  

Those are some exceptional examples of people who have done it and clearly succeeded, but how can you find yourself in that company of names?  You have a great idea, or perhaps you’ve already composed a manuscript that you’ve sent out to publishing houses (hopefully having copyrighted your material first; it’s a must and affordable and simple online-  HYPERLINK "http://www.copyright.gov") and have had no responses. I think it’s time to take matters into your own hands.  Remember, motivation is essential. 

Online you can find many companies that offer self-publishing services.  Asta Publications offers publishing solutions that include format choices for both print and e-book conversion, professional editing, and some social media marketing.  However, whether you choose Asta Publications or another publishing service, it is up to you, the author, to promote your work and yourself.   People cannot read what they do not know about (simple, but true).

            In the end, though I still hope to never be involved in another one of Mr. Browning Kepple’s inebriated rants,  I must commend him for his pluck and tenacity with which he promotes his work.  He’s self-published, still self-publishing, self-promoting, and a true testament to the ideology that anyone can get their ideas out there if they exude a little effort.  Finally, with that effort one can attain a level of legitimacy, and with that, just maybe find his or her name on that self-publishing genius list next.