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  • Writer's picturealisonkilian

My Double Life as a Ghostwriter

The bulk of my ghostwriting focuses on business topics. However, I also ghostwrite fiction—and I think my nonfiction writing is all the better for it.

My ghostwriting career focuses primarily on nonfiction writing. Working with creatives and innovators across an array of fields, I help my clients bring their audacious ideas to life on the page. I love the job, which exposes me to all kinds of big thinkers with big goals for their books, from reshaping healthcare communication to inspiring young entrepreneurs with out-of-the-box approaches to startup success. I spend my days interviewing my author partners and writing, capturing their thoughts and vision in a way that's true to who they are, while effectively engaging their target audience.


At night, I put all of that away and do a very different type of work—ghostwriting fiction. It's a bit of a double life, one that I used to hide. While my nonfiction work focuses on serious topics, from healthcare to entrepreneurship, my fiction work is all torrid love affairs and crafty criminals. My nonfiction is meticulously fact-checked and tested for truth; my fiction revolves around duplicitous characters and unreliable narrators. And while my nonfiction demands a straightforward narrative flow that gently guides the reader, my fiction is full of twists and turns designed to create discomfort.


Different as my fiction work may be, I think it helps improve my nonfiction work in a number of ways. As I've fine-tuned my fiction craft, I've noticed my nonfiction writing has benefitted from:


  • Improved scene setting. Transporting someone into the moment requires great attention to detail, whatever the genre.

  • Better dialogue. Sometimes an author partner wants to include snippets of dialogue in their narrative. Crafting countless conversations in other genres, from thriller to romance, has sharpened my dialogue writing.

  • More creative story framing. How you present a story can play a big part in catching a reader. What's your opening hook? What red thread will you carry through the narrative? What analogies will best convey your message? The creativity needed for fiction has encouraged me to flex my nonfiction creative muscle in fun ways.


I used to hide the fact that I ghostwrite fiction, worried that it would make people take my nonfiction less seriously. Now, I'm more open about it, because I have seen that it benefits my nonfiction as well. I often tell my author partners that it helps create those "movie moments" on the page, where you experience a scene as vividly as if it were a movie playing on a screen before you.


Plus, I've found that some of the author partners I work with get a real kick out of my double life! My fiction has even helped me get a job, once that I know of—an author partner who decided to work with me revealed that the deciding factor in selecting me as his ghostwriter was a short story of mine he'd read (the short story in question was one of the rare instances in which I'd published under my own name). I was at first embarrassed when he mentioned it—but now I'm proud to say that little story landed me one of my favorite projects of all time!


So, I'm bringing my double life out of the shadows. Ultimately, I think people want to work with someone who is passionate about what they do. In my case, that's telling stories—and I love to do that, whether it's a nonfiction memoir or a romantic suspense novel. If you're going to hire a writer, wouldn't you want to hire one that actually loves to write?


Thank you for reading my blog! This is a space where I share personal thoughts — an opportunity for self-expression that has nothing to do with my professional writing. None of the thoughts or opinions expressed in this blog should be construed as anything but my own, nor should they be affiliated with any company or person I contract with or write for.


NOW that that's done... I'd love to hear from you about this blog post in the comments!

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