Friday, December 5, 2008

Freelance Writing: Writing a client's memoir

Now THIS is an interesting kind of project. I've done a little of it, certainly not enough to feel like a pro. But I know it's a gig that pays well, especially if you land a high-profile client.

I remember hearing Bob Bly talk about ghostwriting different clients' autobiographies, in fact.

But it just feels funny, and kind of hard to accomplish.

Editing is one thing - and I've edited memoirs before. But writing it is kind of hard to do - at least over the internet.

Puzzles involved:
- How do you possibly achieve the brain dump? You could be looking at hours and hours of phone time, listening to your client's life story.
- Even if they've got notes, it's awfully hard to capture the details that make for good reading - sights, smells, sounds, feelings.
- Well, actually, it's not hard to write those things... but it's nearly impossible to make them true to life, unless you were there.
- How on earth do you charge for a project like this? You've got a mix of writing and fact-finding, so it's not that simple to price the first couple times.

If you develop this as a specialty, you'll eventually know everything about the time involved, how to get the information, and how to price a project like this. Unless you've got a burning desire to learn all that - and the patience and grace to go into it knowing you could very likely make serious pricing mistakes - you might want to steer clear of this kind of gig.

Have you done this kind of work? Any tips or tricks you'd like to share?

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