Since my first ghostwriting project five years ago, I have nurtured a steadily-growing stable of clients who return to me for additional work. A typical year also brings in several new clients. This month, however, marked a first for me: saying no.
Let me clarify by saying that I am extremely selective with the projects I accept. Ghostwriting zaps an enormous amount of creative energy, often to the exclusion of other coaching and editing projects. So by the time we are in serious negotiations, I’m fairly confident that I’ll see the project to completion. Wheelhouse projects like romance and YA and fantasy often seem inevitable. More careful consideration is given to middle-grade and non-fiction.
This project seemed the perfect fit with the ideal client. In time, however, it transitioned out of my comfort zone. My desire to hit a home run for my client wrestled with my muse. Dollar signs faced off against the prospect of seeking out something else to fill the scheduling void. After five years, I know no project will ever fit to perfection, but in those low-lows that are inevitable in every project, would I have regrets about this editing project-turned-ghostwriting?
And that’s when I realized my limits as a ghostwriter. Even if it only begins as a seed, the passion must be present from the project’s inception. I will only ghostwrite what speaks to the reader inside me. I cannot own, even partially and cloaked in anonymity, any project that pushes me past the boundaries I have set for my own writing career. Maybe having a sizable stable of clients affords me that luxury. Maybe if freelancing were my only means of financial support, I would think differently. Saying no was difficult but necessary. My client deserves no less than the best, and anything beyond my comfort limitations wouldn’t have been my best.
On another note, I’m making an effort toward a true social media plan this week: consolidating accounts, starting new accounts, making an effort with some, taking others to the next level, giving thought to consistent branding across all SM. I hope you’ll visit my contact page and link with me on the SM platform you prefer.
The longer I move in romance circles – reading, writing, studying, editing, coaching – the more apparent the phenomenon of every man vs. no man. I suppose this could apply to other genres, as well, but it seems prevalent in our romance heroes.
I finished ghostwriting a romantic novella last week. In it, the hero falls nicely into the brooding/tortured/loner archetype, but every single aspect of this guy is something fresh, something I haven’t read before. Every cliché I thought of, I twisted. I had some freedom with this. It’s a NA take on a modern Gothic. He’s eccentric and complex, as layered as Dante’s Inferno. He hangs the clothes in his cottage on antlers and keeps a yellow matchbox car on his mantle and leaves his house in both a Santa suit and a birthday suit. When a plot twist gives him exactly what he professes to want, he does the exact opposite. The number of actual men who might fit his mold in real life could probably only fit in my backyard. And maybe not even then. He is a “no man,” like no other man.
Simultaneously, I edited a contemporary romantic suspense from a long-standing client. Her hero is everything a romance reader wants: weak-knees kind of handsome, smart, protective, altruistic, rich, great in the love department…did I mention handsome? He rakes his hand though his dreamy hair when he’s upset. He pins the heroine up against walls (in a good way), listens when she has a problem and gets all up in his alpha when she’s in danger. Yet, we don’t witness idiosyncrasies like putting socks on that don’t match or how he walks one block out of his way to avoid a certain storefront or is obsessed with JFK history or that when he picks up a magazine, he leafs through it back to front. At some point in the story, the reader seamlessly superimposes her ideal man on him. He is “every man.”
The thing that baffles me?
They both work. Absolutely and unequivocally, work.
As writers, we’ve always heard that the golden ticket of characterization is uniqueness. But the power of a writer to gift-wrap a hero that will appeal to the greatest number of readers is not only brilliant, but savvy marketing.
Do romance readers want to fall in love with one particular guy or the particular guy they want?
WAY too much editing last week. My wrist is shrieking in protest, so for today I’ll leave it at the 1000 word love story captured in this photograph:
Have a great Monday, everyone!