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Update: so, I posted earlier that I sold a story I wrote. The client liked my outline, asked for the whole story. HOWEVER, when she read the beginning of the tale, she replied that it's not working for her because it does not 'flow'. She also said I focused on a minor character in the beginning, but she only reviewed approximately 2000 words. (That minor character has some information about a mysterious haunted mirror.) I've already changed the ending to accommodate her wishes and now it looks like I have to figure out what to do to help the story 'flow'.

The thing that is difficult for me, I'm unable to know what she is seeing in her mind as she is reading my words. I agreed to work on a rewrite and I'm glad I didn't submit the full story, or rework the points she had me change. But I'm also sitting here thinking I don't know what elements are right and where I should go.

I'm really just venting. I'm going to get some food and then tackle the job, but aaarrrgh! Why don't people just like my stuff????

Lillyfield41 7 Sep 10
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The people you're dealing with are business people and wouldn't know if anyone's writing is good, bad or indifferent. You're going to face this with every commercial publisher you approach these days. As a ghost writer I suppose you've been through plenty of this before. Just seems like a lot of trouble to go through for something that won't be your own idea, technique, or writing in the end.

Garbonza Level 6 Sep 10, 2019

Well, I have bills to pay. But you're right, they have a formula and are putting out the saccharin (false sweetness) for their readers. This client wants a 25,000 word story. To me, that qualifies as a short story. She also asked that instead of a double death at the end, if everyone could remain alive. (happy hollywood ending)

One of my inspirations used to write for a soap opera - complete vapid garbage - saying he needed to pay his bills. I'd rather someone else's name is on the trash than mine. i actually had a corpse (my word for the clients who use me as a ghost) - I had one of these corpses put my name on his book. I negotiated for it to read, As told to Esther Buck. I also insisted on writing a forward explaining this is the client's work.

@Lillyfield41 All good points. Appreciate your writer's sense of humour too. You've certainly got your work cut out, but I admire your ingenuity in coming up with solutions that swing the power your way.

I've only ever written two novels and they were around the 90,000 word mark -- don't have it in me to write a 900-page one that seems to be required to qualify these days. I once wrote a "short story" as long as the one you cite at 25,000 words -- but the writers groups I work with set exercises that are more like slice-of-life pieces with limits of 1500 (so that 15 writers can fit into a 150-page anthology), and it's all I can do to expand these out to 3,000 words to make it a worthwhile story. It's good that there is a market for a 25,000-word piece. For the past few years I've been accumulating wordage around a series of three short novels on inner-city street life here in Auckland, pitched at around 60,000 per book. The one "serious" conversation I've had with a local publisher concluded with the complaint that he didn't know how he would market a "novella" length book. He thought it was up to me to answer this, so I'll probably end up self-publishing again.


i didn't understand editors at times as a journalist

TheDoubter Level 9 Sep 10, 2019

I see a lot of commentary here that is Johnny's-the-meany-and-you're-the-good-kid. Folks, that's neither helpful nor honest. The fact is that @Lillyfield41 has made a contract and money has changed hands. Professional writers stay in the business by performing, not by bitching and moaning in any way other than internally.

Esther, I have 2 questions for you. Is this client a publisher or a writer to whom you've pitched and sold a story line (ghost writing with a reverse spin)? If it's a publisher/publisher's acquisitions editor, have you worked with or for this person before?

By flow he/she might merely mean word rhythm rather than plot advancement. You might ask the client what it is he/she means specifically, otherwise you could wind up spinning your wheels for no reason. Until you know, you don't know and are just guessing.

You are correct. I have a contract with a client who will put her name on the work as their own. So a writer. (the clients I have worked with in the past have called themselves authors, even though I did the work.)

I was more or less just venting an obstacle that I hit while working with her. I have been paid for the plot and she will take that to another ghost if she is dissatisfied after my attempt to rewrite what I had submitted yesterday. The only 'note' she gave me was that I focused too much on what she perceived to be a minor character. I had planned to make that character an integral part in the climax of figuring out how to fix the situation. I don't think I was clear about that in the outline.

Again, I'm taking one more stab at it with her few notes (that doesn't give a clue how I can meet her expectations). If I don't get it right today with the short rewrite, we have agreed to nullify the contract for writing and keep working together for plots. And again, I got paid for the work I did. I would like to continue working with her (because it would be steady writing work) but if it's not mutually agreeable, then we won't work together.

@Lillyfield41 -- Then all is good. I thought that was the arrangement, but didn't know. Carry on and wow her with your fancy footwork.

@evidentialist fancy finger work... 😉

(you know, because i'm typing. 🙂 )

@Lillyfield41 I've done massive rewrites for an American shyster who called himself an "author" too, then didn't pay me -- so I suppose you're one up on me. Guess I'm lucky in that I have other means to live off, but I'd much rather work for nothing and do my own thing -- even self-publishing for 100% of the net profit -- than be a so-called "professional", which in other words, historically, would be called a dog's body or hack on Grub Street (see Dr Sam Johnson 1709-85 and the story of Richard Savage). No personal offense intended.

@Garbonza not offended at all. I've been starving artist for a long time, but I've become dependent on my son for bill paying and i can't live like that. I've tried interviewing for other jobs and haven't given that up. Fortunately, in my younger days I curated/organized art shows where I received a commission for sales and was all about drafting a contract. I will not work without a contract and have only been burned a couple times. The amount of money I would have gained from litigation would have been less than the court fees, so I let it go. But if I got a big job and got stiffed, I definitely would go to court. Contract contract contract!

@Lillyfield41 Hey, moms deserve support. Wish I had been in a position to do the same for my mother, just help out a little. Yes, it's the lot of us starving artists to feel the pressures of "getting a real job" -- I didn't give up applying till last year, when admittedly my efforts at respectability had shrivelled to very occasional. I'm 64 and, after two redundancies (government clerk and newspaper proofreader at age 37 and 42) it was all uphill in terms of a full-time job to the point of even getting an interview is counted as a triumph -- a very ageist society this is. The old age pension doesn't kick in here till 65, and they're talking about raising that to 67. This means most Maori males and other disadvantaged (in which I don't count myself) don't even get a sniff at one.


She can't flow or float a are Mozart she is not half as good as Salieri....get your money up front b4 she picks on another genius for her scheming

she paid me for the plot already. and i only submitted the first two chapters to her for review. I think I'm going to get paid for the work i do, and i don't want her to be unhappy with the work that she is putting her name on (that's the contract); it's just a setback. 😟

@Lillyfield41 you gotta be both politician and slave....boost her ego....say what a skilled genius she is to "see" and suggests how things are brain food and drink ROCKSTAR gold star WITHOUT sucralose on label when yo take your ginko vitamins....don't work overtime....stay on your schedule


She's trying to earn her by-line to call your work hers....she likes your work great....she is just fucking with your ego

It took a few stories with a previous client I worked with to get his voice and vision correct on the first pass. I haven't ghosted in a few years. I can do this!

@Lillyfield41 stay strong professional're the eagle she is the turkey

@GreenAtheist I got this!

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