Ghostwriter. Sounds mysterious, doesn't it? In today's show, my guest Nick Pavlidis unpacks what a ghostwriter is, what they do, and who can benefit from hiring one.
Nick used to practice law, but he wanted more control over his time, and more time with his family (you can hear more about that in our earlier interview). He became a skilled ghostwriter, and now he’s teaching others the craft and business of ghostwriting.
His mission? Nick says, “I help people help people.”
What is a ghostwriter?
Ghostwriters help create written content, often without a byline. That content might be a series of blog posts or articles, or it might be posts for social media. It could be a book. “Basically we’re creating written content and positioning it to make a connection with a desired reader for a greater purpose,” says Nick.
Why hire a ghostwriter?
Writing is part of it, but positioning that content to make a connection is something else. This is a special skill. The ghostwriter does more than take your words and ideas, and rearrange them on the page. The skilled ghostwriter understands how to deliver your content to the reader in an effective way.
A skilled ghostwriter can do this for you:
This skillful organization and positioning helps your audience find you. It strengthens connections and help keep your readers engaged. Ultimately, by hiring a ghostwriter to create quality content, your message can help more people.
The difference between a good book and a great book is not the information. It’s really the presentation. -Nick Pavlidis
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Hey Nick, thanks so much for being on the life and mission podcast this week. How have you been? You were on the show a couple of years ago.
My pleasure, Kay. I’m honored to be here. I love what you’re doing. You know, I’m a big fan of you, so I am just super excited to share some time here. I’ve been doing well. I know it’s been a couple years since you and I at least spoke in this setting and, I’ve been in my business, staying positive, having fun, choosing my own adventure. And lately I’ve been trying to set aside time to help others follow their own dreams, especially as it pertains to ghostwriting, which is something we talked about last time, right?
Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you so much, because you are such an encourager and it’s really, really great to talk to you, just about all kinds of things. But lately we’ve been talking a lot about ghostwriting. And you have launched your ghostwriting school, and that’s one of the big things I want to talk with you about. But first, if we just let people know who you are and what you do, and then we’ll go from there.
Sure. Yeah. Well, I have a wife and two kids and I was a lawyer. So I’m a lawyer, turned ghostwriter, and now I spend, I like to describe what I do as my ghost writing business evolved and grew as helping people help people. So if you go to, I help people help people.com it’ll redirect you to my website.
Just as a reminder to me that what I am doing through ghost writing and through teaching and through connecting with people, is finding people who have a positive message to share, a positive impact to make on people and helping them connect with the people who need their messages, either through written content or other forms of content in such a way that they are able to reach more people, impact more people, and put a positive spin on the world, no matter what is going on around them. So most of it’s through ghostwriting.
Like you mentioned, I launched Ghostwriter School. I opened the doors for a few days for that. And so I’m helping people. I help clients get books and articles written to share messages of inspiration, accurate information and stories to encourage people to make a positive change in their lives. So everything I do is centered around that concept of helping people, help people.
Love that because that’s what we’re about here. Life and Mission Podcasts. That’s it. You’re living, you’re doing what you do, but you’re doing it because there’s another purpose. You’ve got a strong why behind what you’re doing and that’s helping people.
Yeah. Yeah. And it’s super fun because, with ghost writing, especially, I tend to help people who are talented speakers. They might even be talented writers, but they are there. Talented communicators in some form, podcasters, public speakers, coaches, consultants, but they either don’t have the time to write or they don’t have the writing talent.
Some of them don’t have either, but they have positive information, positive stories to tell really helpful stuff. And if they were to do it themselves, best-case scenario, it would pull them away from doing their core. Piece of their message or their business. So it would, it would unplug their marketing for their business if they took the time to write their book or they’re not talented at it, or they don’t have the desire to do it because it’s a lot of work.
And on the other side, there are people who they won’t listen to podcasts, they won’t watch YouTube, not because there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just not their style of learning. So through ghost writing and getting it an article. And or book form. We help them reach an audience that’s not going to reach their core business function.
There’s, they’re not going to go to a conference and hear their keynote or they’re not going to listen to their podcasts, but they will read an article. They will read a book. So there are some people who just want to read books or just want to read articles and they won’t listen to podcasts. And there’s some people who only want to listen to podcasts and won’t reach a book.
If you’re only sharing your message and sharing your story in one place, you’re missing out on helping a whole group of people who need your story, need your teaching, need your information.
That’s so true. I mean, you have to, it’s kind of like learning to speak different languages and so you’ve kind of have to speak. You know, but that’s the language of video, the language of a book, the language of podcasts. It’s whatever way your audience receives what you have to say and the more languages, so to speak, that you can communicate in the better off everybody’s going to be.
So, this ghostwriting, kind of like you say, “ghostwriting,” and people kind of lean in and sometimes they get a little funny look on their face. Right. Because we don’t, it’s not really something you hear. You hear people say, I want to be a writer, I want to, I want to write a book. You actually hear that a lot. But ghostwriter is not something we hear a lot about. So can you unpack what is a ghostwriter? What does a ghostwriter do?
Yeah. So we, we help create written content. Sometimes that’s as simple as social media. I don’t do as much social media content, unless it’s someone who does, who’s already working with us for books and, or articles. So I’ll do social media associated with that. So I don’t tend to do as much as that.
But basically we’re creating written content and positioning it to make a connection with a desired reader for a greater purpose. So we have worked with people. Either from scratch where we, we design a book together; we design what the book’s intention is going to be, or the articles or the series of articles we, interview content out of them.
We do some research. So we’re basically creating a written piece of content that is helpful to our clients to share a message, to spread a message, to build their business, to tell their stories. And there are some people who just would never get that book. And then. They would never get the book out.
They’d never get the articles written and everybody, everybody kind of gets hurt by that. The people who need that content that we talked about who won’t have access to it, the people who would continue to struggle. So we help not just write the content with them, but we help design that content as being experienced in how the written form of delivering information can create momentum for people. So basically we design written content. We help gather the information that we need to get that written content, whether that’s through someone’s keynote or a course, or a YouTube videos or podcasts, or creating it a new through interviews. And then we put it in a written form in such a way that it connects with people because the art of.
Writing when you don’t have your hands to wave around or you don’t have an inflection that you can use with your voice or pace of voice to deliver information. There is an art to writing. There is a bit of a science to it as well, so we create content and position it, not just with the words, but even position it on paper through paper, how it looks on the on the written paper, on the written page and how it looks on the screen.
To attract to the right people, to keep them reading and to deliver both the message and that momentum, that motivation for them to make some improvement in their personal professional lives and want to connect more with our readers. So we do, you know, with ghost writing, there’s this perception that you’re just writing a book and someone else’s name is on it.
There’s a lot more if done well. There’s a lot more that goes into it. That’s really that design to say, Hey, listen, just like you would with a coach of an NBA team, put your teammates in the – put your, your team members in a position to succeed. We do that through content. We help coach the content out of the clients, and we position it in simple to understand functions.
So their words. Are just presented in a way that puts them in a better chance to succeed in making a positive impact on their reader and in, in growing their authority, their business, their audience.
So let me make sure I understand so. It’s almost like you’re, you’re taking the – you’re almost translating the person’s message from, say they’re a big, they give a lot of speeches and so they have this great idea that they spread through speech and now you help them translate that into a written format, which is really it’s such a different medium.
It requires different requirements and they may just really rock that speech. They may be getting thousands of dollars to go stand in front of a crowd and speak. But they sit in front of that computer to go type that book and they don’t know where to start. Maybe, or, or they can kind of get, get it to a certain point, but it’s just not working. Or, you know, like you said at the time, but it’s, yeah. You have to wear a lot of hats to be a ghostwriter. Right.
Yeah. And it’s, and, and the thing about ghost writing is it’s not about the information, it’s about the presentation of the information and how you do it. Whether you do it through stories. There are a lot of books where you can, you can almost tell when something was, was either written by someone who’s not, who, who doesn’t have that same storytelling or that, that nuance style of presenting written information, whether it’s.
And what I mean by that is sort of a writer who’s just coming into the project with the mindset of, you tell me what to say and I’ll write it. That’s not a ghost writer. That’s a transcriptionist. Essentially. That’s just a, that’s a, almost like a commoditized, way of looking at things. Or if it’s something who’s, that’s self-published, self written, nothing wrong with that, but by someone who’s just trying to get the information down.
This is a book about this. And the difference between that and someone who takes the approach of, I’m coming to this as a professional ghost writer, designed to help you tell your story or deliver your information in such a way that it makes that deep connection. So when we do it, we and when teach to do it, we teach to do it through story.
So because the difference between a good book and a great book is not the information. It’s really the presentation. And the great books do two things differently. Number one is they, they help the, the reader gain the confidence to move forward. They give them that they give them that motivation that, wow.
Chapter two told this story of some person who had a similarly positioned to me or I resonated with in some way, achieving something I want. So they resonate with stories. So we tell multiple stories, little stories, anecdotes, pop culture, stories, reflections. it’s not always, doesn’t always have to be that the author.
Experienced every single piece of it, but the author as an expert is someone who can tell a story about something they saw on the news or some, someone they met or someone they helped. So we build the books. We build it in such a way that. The way we first learn about the ideal reader and what they want to achieve or get out of reading this book and then why they haven’t.
There’s something about themselves. They believe they can’t lose weight because they have bad knees or something about their environment. They believe they can’t be a good leader because they don’t have final authority. They’re just an entry level or an assistant manager, or there’s something about the subject matter themselves. They believe that. You know, this, the art of, of content is just something for intellectuals or for professors to argue over. And what we do is we, we, we lean into those objections before we get started and we identify stories that show people. Who have those objections, overcoming them. So it might be someone who tells a story about, Hey, let me tell you about Nick.
“Nick used to struggle. He had bad knees his whole life, and he just accepted that he’d never be athletic. So he just decided blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And then you just show Nick who had bad knees, and then the person who’s reading it, you don’t just say, “Don’t worry. If you have bad knees, you can do it.”
That’s not very motivating. That’s good information, but it doesn’t give Nick confidence or the reader confidence. But if, if the reader says, “Wow! Nick had bad knees his whole life, I got bad knees, maybe I can just try what Nick tried.” And that gives them the confidence, because they do that. So that’s the first thing they get is confidence.
And then they get, they become more competent. Not because you’re showing them the beginning and the end, but you’re showing them the middle and you’re showing them small pieces that they can say, all right, if I just try these one or two things or three things, if I do these three things every day, I’m going to be able to move forward, or I’m going to be able to achieve it.
So it’s not just the information, it’s how you act, you’re actually giving them the small steps that they can do right away. And you’re actually giving them the connection, the motivation, and the confidence that they can, that they themselves can do it. By leaning in and understanding the objections that people have and then telling stories that help people resonate with someone.
Cause if you’re just telling the author’s story, then the reader has to resonate with the author in order to get that confidence. If the author is telling other stories as well, then there are many opportunities for the reader to make a connection with someone and gain that confidence that, Hey, if Nick can do it by can’t dire, if Kay can do it, why can’t I?
Yeah. It has to be some way for that reader to see themselves and in that book, succeeding, doing what? The goal, whatever the goal of the book. Yes. Yeah. So that’s a great skill that, the ghost writer brings, like, and, and really, you know, it’s the same as the author of any book. It’s just that you’re taking it, you’re working with the person whose name is going to be on the book, but you’re doing all that, all that work,
Yeah. And for that ghost writer, it’s not just the art. The ghost writer doesn’t come in to just help you write a book. It’s to help you write a better book. So if you go to a, you know, you go to a professional, like a professional ghostwriter, you get a professional work product.
Right, right. And I’ve heard you talk about, you know, writing sometimes as is bought and sold almost like a commodity, and it kind of goes to the lowest bidder. And that’s not. That’s not what we’re talking about now you’re, you’re really talking about buying, not buying, but hiring services of a craftsman to help you produce something of great value to other people.
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. A book you can be proud of, not just a book or article or whatever is, Just to have, just to have a book, because a lot of people will say, Oh, I’m a public speaker to get on these stages, virtual or otherwise. They want to know that. Where the one thing that gets us stand out is that if we’re an author, because I’m competing against people, especially now with a lot of, with the, when the, when the world’s economy gets flipped, there are a lot of people who will go into consulting.
A lot of new businesses will get started. A lot of people with messages to share, a lot more people with messages to share who are going to be sharing them. And one of the ways to stand out is having a book, but if you have a book that it looks like a pamphlet or a book that’s just a bunch of information, you send it to someone and they flip through it, they’ll look and say, wow, this seems like a lot of information.
That seems like that, it won’t give you as much help as if you have a book that actually, because of the content and the presentation and the flow and the, and the cover presentation, all that stuff because of that. Yeah. it’s a page Turner and I tell people, one of the simplest things you can do to improve your writing is to put more subheadings and don’t go more than 700 or a thousand words tops without some visual element on the page.
If you’re just flipping page after page after page in a book, and it’s just straight. It’s straight text, especially if it’s one long paragraph, then the reader’s brain is going to get tired because there are two things that go on in people’s brains when they’re reading. One is the mechanical side of things.
Getting the stuff from the page into your brain and then the application side of it where it’s understanding it and how to move forward with it. If their brain is working really hard for the mechanical side of it, they’re going to get tired and they’re going to say, all right, maybe I’m going to put this book down, and then what they do is they try flipping forward to see, all right, well, how much longer do I have to go before I get to a natural stopping point?
I do that all the time.
Right? That’s like 10 or 12 pages. You say, forget it and you just stick a bookmark and you say, I’ll just figure it out. If it’s one or two pages, then you say, all right, I’ll read to the next image or read to that great out quote, or I’ll read to that next subheading, and then you get to that point.
And many times people will say. You know what, let me just see if there’s one or two more things and they flip forward again and they say, Oh, okay, we’ve got one more page and it’s the end of a chapter or one, two more pages, and it’s another section. And in this section, the subheading looks really interesting.
So let me just read this, another one. And you could get someone going through for an hour or two going through, and that’s what makes it a page Turner is that presentation. It’s that craftsmanship to a book.
Yeah. And so that’s one of the skills, one of the many skills that that ghost writer is going to bring into it. And it’s not just, we’re talking a lot about books, but I ghost writer also is, you know, write your blog posts or write longer form articles for your, your business. all kinds of contents.
It’s not just limited to books. We have writers that are producing content. I did a workshop the other day on, How, how local businesses could use content marketing, Or it gets a little specialized, but you do have to know how to do it right versus just kind of flinging a lot, a lot of information out there.
Yeah. And that presentation for, for a, for an article is really, really important to, people have less patience with the articles than they do with a book because the way we look at content, we’re used to looking on Facebook feeds and Twitter and LinkedIn where even. If the content is, even if the content is long, it’s, it’s shortened.
And then you have to click more to see. So when you’re looking at a page, you see a person’s name and you see a little bit of content. Maybe you see an image, then you see another person’s name. You’re the way content is presented to us. It naturally has this, these breaks in it. So what we do with articles is we, we make it skimmable, which means we have, we, we don’t go more than 300 words tops without a subheading. So even if you’re telling a story and you’re still, you’re not doing a “three ways to write a blog post” type of post, even if you’re telling a story, then you break it up visually and you give almost little teasers for why people should keep reading. So if you’re telling a story about something that you lost, then you might say.
And the first one is, you know, that time I lost whatever, but I would actually flip it around and say and turn it to a lesson or something else. Make it about the reader. Because that time I lost is about you. So if you say something to the effect of, you know, how to find your lost earring or whatever, and then you sell your story, at the beginning, and then the subheading, even if it’s just a story about an afternoon that you lost your earring, the first subheading might be, you know, look behind your ears or whatever.
And then some little quirky thing. And then later on down the road, it’s, Giving up right before you strike gold or whatever, and then when someone just looks on the page, they see, you know how to find a lost ring, look behind your ears that never give up or whatever. They see some sort of message, or just about to give up or strike and gold.
Then that. Just that it’s quote unquote journey of the subheadings makes it more attractive to the person on the page. And just like they do in a book, they might read a section and then say, you know what? I’m tired, but you know what, this next section is just short. Let me just read this next section. And then they read the next section and then you, you’ve drawn them in and then they see that, that, that T’s that subheading and that tells them there’s something interesting following it and it keeps them reading to the end.
So there’s that art in that presentation. In both the written form online and articles and magazines or whatever. And there’s the written form in longer form in books, for sure.
And more of us are reading content on our phones. So you’ve got this little tiny spaces, narrow space to fit all that in. So if you have a big wall of text, kind of all coming at them at once.
You know, it just is too much work to read. So just knowing things like that is, is golden. So from this standpoint, if somebody says, I have a message, and I need to get it out to people.
What’s the advantage to me then of hiring a ghostwriter to do all this for me?
Well, part of it is the effectiveness of the writing. So, a skill to ghostwriter will know how to present it, to get people who land on your page, to be able to enjoy it and like you and want to do more with you. Another part is that when it’s done really well. It can attract people to your page. So a ghostwriter, a really talented ghost writer, has a skill of intuition, and that they will intuitively know why or what would lead someone to your page.
What are they likely to be searching on Google when they’re in need of your message, in need of your services and need of you. And they will design posts with your content to match those types of searches. So if someone is searching for leadership, for example, they might say, you know, how to communicate better, or how to motivate my team members or something like that.
And so instead of saying, instead of designing a post that says, , if the title is something to the effect of being positive in the workforce or being positive in the office, no one, probably no one really searches for something like that, perhaps. But if the answer is being positive in your office and the post is how to communicate with your team better, and one of the, one of the ways to do that is to be positive.
Then the post title of. How to better communicate with your team members or how to motivate your team members is something that they’re going to be searching for. So what the ghost writer does is it presents it in such a way, not just on the page to make people who land there naturally, connect better with it, but to present it on the page in such a way to get more people to land there naturally by writing it and designing it and presenting it using.
The technical side of how blogs are written, and that’s through sort of a, it’s sort of like in Microsoft word, if you were to do bold and capitalize and things like that, there are ways to better connect your content with Google search engine in particular by instead of making things bold by tagging it.
As a heading or a subheading, and that tells Google that, Hey, this post is really about communication in the workforce, or that tells Google, Hey, this post is about whatever your topic is, so the ghost writer will not as present it in such a way that makes the content stickier, but they’ll present it in such a way that communicates with Google to get more people to get your website more likely to show up over the longer term when people search for information like yours.
Yeah. So yeah. You’re not talking about these little tricky tactics that, you know, we used to, you know, if you remember, people used to put all their keywords at the bottom of the page and all that, and that’ll get you, that’ll get you off Google really fast. But understanding, you know, that you’re writing for a real reader, and Google is actually looking at your page.
You’re scanning it and saying, is this for a real reader, and what would that reader be looking for? What’s the answer that this provides? Or a real person and, and then of course real people are going to type something into that search bar and they’re looking for an answer to a problem and understanding that is probably nine-tenths of it right there.
Absolutely. And these are simple changes for a ghostwriter, but for, for a businessperson or a speaker or someone with a message to share, to have to keep up with all the things that go into it. It’s not their business. So for me, I like to bring in experts when I pretty much do anything. And I can design a website, but I don’t. When I opened up ghost writers school, I brought people in to do that technical thing because I know that my skills aren’t as good as theirs. And there are little nuances that can make a big difference in a way that matters to reaching people. So I won’t run my own Facebook ads.
I’ll have someone do that. Even though I understand Facebook ads, because they changed their algorithms, they change their reviews; they change their specs; they change everything so frequently that I can’t keep up with it and still be a world-class writer. So I try to find the people who do that all day, every day.
And who’s. Right income really depends on them doing it well to do it, because I know that they know that their kids will get really skinny if they don’t do it really well. So I like to, bring in experts as much as I can for whatever parts of the project aren’t part of my core competencies or core offerings, even.
There you go. So then let the subject matter expert be the expert in their subject matter, and then let the ghost writer be the expert in the writing and the presenting, the writing and, and the message out. And then. Let the other people come in and do their job. And then you’ve got a really nice team and a nice presentation for your information and your business has a much better chance of going farther and being successful.
Yes, and it really helps, especially if someone is looking to build thought leadership or someone that has a higher value offering, because if they’re able to do, first of all, typically my clients just, they love what they do. And what they do is not right. They help people in some way so they get more fulfillment out of it and they’re able to serve more people because they’re, they don’t have to take time away to do the writing, and they’re able to serve people better because the more they do it, the more they learn and the better they get.
So that positive momentum, just by outsourcing. One little piece to them. It’s a big piece because it takes a lot of time. It takes more time for them to do it then than a lot of the things they do that make a bigger impact, so they’re able to outsource something that helps them in several ways. But in addition, it gives them more time to fill up their pipeline and more time to serve their pipeline people and their clients.
And it makes them better at what they do because they get more practice hours because they’re not taking practice hours out too. Right.
Yeah. That’s good. That’s good. Well, what, what should somebody do? Okay, we’ve got two groups probably listening to this right now. People that say, ah, I need a ghostwriter because I’ve wanted to write a book, and I didn’t know where to start, or I didn’t know what, what to do about that. And then you’ve got another group going.
Ghostwriting. I love to write, but I, you know, I, that’s, that’s me. I love the writing part in the, in the technical, how to, how to position it and things. And I love learning different things, which is another benefit of being a ghostwriter. So, what’s the, what’s, what’s a step that somebody could take for each of those.
Yeah. If you’re looking to get into ghostwriting, the best place to go. I have a free guide on my website, ghost writer, school.com it’s pretty much the only thing on the website is here’s your quick start guide and then you click, you stick in your email and I email you a PDF. It’s 10 pages long or something like that.
It might be longer than that, I don’t remember, but it walks through all the things that I would do if I were first getting started in ghostwriting. And then you will, , you’ll be able to, it’s marketing. It’s hard to find clients, all sorts of really good stuff there. So I would go there, ghost writer, school.com if someone’s looking to hire a ghostwriter, I’d say the best way for them to do it is to connect with you.
Cause I know you are really talented at writing, and you’re growing your ghostwriting business. And if they connect with you and you’re not a good fit, you and I collectively can help find them. Someone.
That’s right. Yep. All right. So, all those links that Nick talked about, they’ll be in the show notes you’ll find that at lifeandmission.com and Nick, thank you so much for being with us today and demystifying the world of ghostwriting for us.
Nick: Oh, my pleasure. Okay. Thanks for having me.