Thursday, October 20, 2011

Heather Hummel and I talk ghostwriting

Product Details  This week, Heather Hummel, mid-blog-tour, takes time to answer some more of my questions about all things writing.... 

Me: In honor of Halloween, I have to ask about the ghostwriting, even though I must say I know so little about it (which I guess is kind of the point, ghosts and all).  Can you tell us about typical process or the way you find your clients? 

Heather: I fell upon ghostwriting when I wrote GRACEFULLY with my mother. The experience of working with McGraw-Hill (our editor, John Aherne was fabulous!) as well as Goldberg McDuffie (one of the leading public relations firms in New York…they handle David Baldacci and Jodi Picoult among many others) provided me with such valuable first-hand experiences, let alone the confidence, to go this route.

Currently I’m ghostwriting a book with Tamra Barney of the Real Housewives of Orange County. She was referred to me by a mutual friend who is a Los Angeles and Miami based public relations maven. I also recently ghostwrote a book for a company who is doing a website and book launch in tandem next year. That gig came as a referral from their publisher who happened upon my website.

Me: As a ghostwriter, what’s it like collaborating with someone else and trying to write their story?  And are there times when you’ve written something wonderful but we wouldn’t know it was by you?

Heather: The trick to ghostwriting is to leave my agenda and voice at home, and gain access to my client’s vision and voice in order to best present their book in their light. It’s a challenge that gives balance to writing my own fiction.

You hit on an interesting note in your second question. There have been times when I’ve come up with a great line, and although I would have loved to use it for my own work, I also knew it was best suited for a client and I made the “sacrifice.” In a few cases, like GRACEFULLY and the forthcoming celebrity book, I receive public credit for writing the books (i.e. ‘with Heather Hummel will appear on the cover), and it may or may not be assumed I wrote any given line. There are varying levels of ghostwriting -- from pure ghost to “with” credit to coauthor. Each has its advantages and can be negotiated in many different ways.

Me: The publishing process – yours specifically!   There’s something so motivating about hearing other writer’s paths to publication.   You’ve published a few different ways – do you have any stories, or maybe some comparisons between your experiences? 

Heather: Not so long ago it was fun to read stories about other authors’ journeys through the golden arch of publishing. Nowadays anyone can publish a book on Kindle in 24 hours and the eye catching stories are about how they sold their first million eBooks.

Because I delve into many different genres, have different clients (i.e. authors under my publishing house, PathBinder Publishing), some would consider my work to be spread thin rather than concentrated in say just chick lit or just ghostwriting. But, for me it provides a balance where I can showcase my fiction writing through my novels and my nonfiction, journalism style, through ghostwriting. I love the combination, and in my figurative book, doing what I love is success.

Me: The book we must all run out and get, right now, if we haven’t already?

Heather: Actually, I’m really excited to announce a new project coming out next year…I'm gearing up to film a documentary based on my forthcoming novel titled $1 AND $100. The novel tracks a $1 bill and a $100 bill through the different hands/time/places they pass through, with an emphasis on how each person relates to them when they have them in hand. The novel launches in the mid-seventies with a widowed, young waitress working in a Route 66 diner who receives a $100 bill as a tip.

For the documentary, I'll be interviewing people of all walks of life about how they relate to money: what did their parents teach them? Has their perception changed? Did they have a financial-defining moment? Did they have a financial mentor? What are they teaching their children about money? All of those types of questions that will in essence get to the core of how our society relates to money.

I don’t know if it’s been done before -- a novel launched with a theme related documentary -- but it’s allowing me to incorporate my love for photography and film as well and, of course, to continue to expand my platform and genres!

Heather Hummel, aka the Gypsy Writer, is the author of the Journals from the Heart Series featuring Whispers from the Heart and Write from the Heart.

Her nonfiction titles include:

GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe  (PathBinder, 2011)Gracefully Looking and Being Your Best at Any Age (McGraw-Hill, 2008)

Heather's books have appeared in newspapers such as: Publishers Weekly, USA Today and the Washington Post; and in magazines that include: Body & Soul, First, and Spry Living, a combined circulation of nearly 15 million. Visit Heather's website at Follow Heather on Twitter @HeatheHummel  and on Facebook

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