Join us on Chasing Financial Freedom this week as we sit down with Tim Vandehey, a New York Times bestselling ghostwriter, and journalist, to uncover the power of ghostwriting in the entrepreneurial world.
In this episode, we explore the strategies and mindset shifts that have helped top entrepreneurs win big in their businesses and how ghostwriting played a crucial role in their success. Tim shares his insights and experiences working with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, revealing the secrets to crafting compelling content and building a personal brand.
Don't miss this episode of Chasing Financial Freedom, where we uncover the power of ghostwriting and how it can help you achieve financial freedom.
Tim's New Book: Swipe, Coming March 21, 2023
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[00:00:00] Ryan: Hey guys, Ryan DeMent from Chasing Financial Freedom Podcast. I hope you guys are having a great day. We have a returning guest. Tim was on Chasing Happiness last week. He was able to step in for a guest that could not come on Chasing Financial Freedom. So Tim is back. If you guys haven't met him on the other podcast, listen to him, and hear what he has to say.
But today, Tim is going to talk more about how he became a ghostwriter, how he's earning his living as a ghost writer. And we're going to talk a little about his book Swipe, which he's now an author of, so he's coming out behind the curtain. Tim, welcome into the show.
[00:00:38] Tim: Thanks, Ryan. Good to be back. Had the, had fun the first time.
I'm sure I'll have it just as much fun this time. So yes,
[00:00:43] Ryan: so thank you for coming in and on short notice. So let's jump right in. So before we get into, being a ghost rider, just a little about you and then we will, we'll get into the nuts and
[00:00:52] Tim: bolts. . Absolutely. Yeah, I'm, I'll get more into this later, but I'm a ghost writer.
I've been a professional writer for 36 years. I've been freelance for 20. eight of those years. And I live in Kansas City, Missouri. I'm a native Californian, and I as you said earlier in the intro, I am finally stepping out from behind the curtain and co publishing my own co-authored book, which actually comes out on March 21st which is called Swipe the Science Behind Why We Don't Finish What We Start.
And that is my first foray into the, being out front in front of the book, which is, it's been interesting. It's been a little, people are asking me how many clips of put on you on podcasts? Do you have things like that? I'm like none. Because I haven't had to do it in the past.
So it's very comfortable being behind the curtain. I don't have to be out front. I just write the words and get these people in trouble, and they go out and deal with the. . But that's the ABC's. Me, I'm, I'm a jazz singer and things like that, and I have a couple of daughters and I'm married and like I said, live in Kansas City, Missouri.
So those are the sort of the basics of the bio.
[00:01:55] Ryan: Cool. So let's just jump right in and let's talk about how you got into the ghost riding business and then nuts and bolts of it. So let's start back. What started the career and what kicked it? .
[00:02:05] Tim: I wanted to of explain, cause I know a lot of people don't know what Ghost writing actually is, so let me start there if I might.
Cuz people hear about it, they don't know anything about it. A lot of people heard about Ghost Writers because of spare the book that just came out a couple months ago for. From Prince Harry cuz he had a ghost writer who has done three or four huge books. I've done a lot more than that, but none of mine have been as big as that.
A ghost writer basically is a professional writer who writes books that other people put their names on. Simple as that. It's been a, it's that profession's been around for hundreds of years, as long as there have been people who wanted to write books but couldn't write either, the people who hire me and other ghosts, and there aren't that many of us.
There's probably a few hundred in the country. They're people who have a reason to want to publish a book. with their name on it and either don't have the time to write it, don't have the skill to write it, or more, more likely Both. Because, I writing well is not something everyone can do, and writing is certainly at a professional level is not something everyone can do.
And even if they have the skill, they al almost never have the time because I'm dealing with people who are, CEOs and professional athletes and so on. They don't have the time to do, to, Six months or a year figuring out what their book looks like and, outlining it and draft writing multiple drafts and things like that.
So they hire someone like me and I'm behind the scenes. Sometimes I get credit on the cover, sometimes I don't. If I get credit, it'll be a with, well with Tim Van Dehe. Sometimes I'm completely invisible. But that's the general gist of what ghost writing is. How I got into it was I was always been a writer.
I started working in a magazine when I was 22 and spent eight years working for other people. But I always wanted to be freelance. I never wanted to. My life working for other people. I just didn't. I like the idea of controlling my own time and controlling my own what I was capable of earning. And after four years at an ad agency in Southern California, I said I don't like the pressure here.
I don't like the. The type of work I'm doing, but I like some of the people I've worked with. So I found three clients who did not like my agency at all, but liked me. And I said, I'm gonna leave. I'm gonna go freelance. Will you come with me and be, basically I poached three of my employer's clients.
No, there's no other way to put it. I poached them. But it was okay. They. . They they were gonna leave, I think anyway, cause they didn't care for the company. They liked me. When I said I was going out of my own, they said, yeah, we'll stay with you. And I moved down to a beach house, the bottom floor of a duplex with my best friend in Laguna Beach, California.
We were living right below an Irish couple who were drunk all the time, pretty much. So St. Patrick's Day was really fun. Actually, most weekends were really fun and noisy. And we start, we planted our own weed and I started writing for myself. and I've never looked back and that person is still my best buddy.
And that was the end. That was the beginning of 1995, back when internet was, it was pretty much a o l the iPhone and things like that were a long way away.
[00:04:51] Ryan: S when you said you started, you said you started at a
[00:04:53] Tim: magazine. I started writing for a trade magazine that you would've never heard of.
[00:04:57] Ryan: Let's run it by me.
[00:04:59] Tim: What is it? It was an old trade show magazine called Trade Show Week. It was about, it was a magazine about trade shows. .
[00:05:04] Ryan: Might have heard of it. I don't know. I'm just curious because I've met some other authors and some ghost writers I should say too, that wrote for magazines that are completely gone.
I'm like, oh yeah, I remember that. Men's Health, I met somebody that used to write for Men's Health. Yeah, they're still around. Yeah, but it's, you don't see very many magazines nowadays, so I was just curious to see what you're writing for and then the,
[00:05:26] Tim: The second one I worked for is still around cause I wore, the next one I worked for was Black Belt.
So I went and did work. I worked for Black Belt Magazine and worked for them for. A couple of years, I think it was maybe two and a half years, and eventually ran my own magazine there, karate Illustrated, which was another sub, a subset. But I got to meet all the people who knew Bruce Lee because the people who founded the magazine were all friends and family of Bruce Lee and Bruce Lee was like a demigod.
So I learned all about that and and I learned more about the magazine world, layout and advertising and design and all that stuff. It's good. And I didn't re but it was, it wasn't work that I was really that into and didn't pay that well. When I had a chance to take a writing test for an ad agency that worked in the real estate business down in orange County, down south of la, I jumped to the chance and apparently I aced the writing test cuz they offered me the job on the spot.
I was there for four years and I learned a ton. I learned a ton about design, especially cause I did a lot of graphic design, which I had never done before. But but then I hit that point where it was like there was lot, it was a lot of pressure, a lot of deadline pressure. I didn't, I don't mind, I don't mind deadline pressure.
I don't on deadline all the time, but it was imposed by somebody else. . I had no control over the deadlines at all. I didn't like that. Plus who doesn't? Not everybody wants to work for themselves. That's not a fair question, but I think a lot of people would, if they had the opportunity, would work for themselves.
And I certainly did. And it was good times. I was 30 years old. I had gotten rid of my girlfriend at the time. She and I had broken up. And I didn't say, I don't even gotten rid of like in a Sopranos way, that, not that kind of gotten rid of, but she and I had split up and she moved back east.
And I'm like, I'm 30 years old, I'm single. I'm living to the beach with my best friend, working for myself. It was good times, man. . It was some good times. But I did that for about five years. And then in 19 99, 1 of my clients who I'd known for a long time, had done a ton of work for him.
Mark, I was, know, I was doing marketing copywriting at this point. I wasn't, books weren't even on my radar at all. Never thought about writing a book, never thought about ghost writings, purely accidental. And this client of mine said, can you write a book for me about branding? And I said, absolutely.
Peter I can write. Then I hung up. I can write a book, and I hung up the phone. . Oh crap. How do I write a book? And because like I always tell writers when I, when I coach writers, just talk writers that's what you do in anything is, when you wanna pursue, if you wanna pursue opportunities in this life, you say yes to everything.
And then you hang up the phone and you have a mild panic attack and then you figure it out. Because otherwise God knows what you might turn down, that you don't that you might regret missing out on. I wrote that book. It was terrible. But it was a, what's that, what was it about?
It was about personal branding, like building your own personal brand. That's the, that's what, that's the business that this friend, this client and friend of mine was in. And it
[00:08:04] Ryan: tanked you said?
[00:08:05] Tim: Yeah, it was self pu he self-published it and it was the first time he'd done that. First time I'd done it.
So not, neither of us knew we were doing and. . I don't know. I, I don't think it was very good. I don't think it sold especially I think he was using it as a more like a credential for his little marketing agency that he was building. But we did a couple more books in the third one, which is called The Brand called You.
He self-published really well, and I was a better writer by this time. This was in 2000 and. I wanna say it was oh three, so it was four years later, I'd gotten, I'd become a better writer by then just through sheer practice and repetition. And I knew what I was doing more and I'd, I'd written a couple books for him already, and this one did really well.
It was actually a bestseller in. I wanna say Japan or Korea, I forget which. But it did really well and it was actually quite widely noticed. And I got a lot of people, agents publishers several famous authors mark Victor Hansen, who was the co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, who became a friend of mine.
He saw it and I got started getting a lot of attention because of that. And so like Mark came to me and said, do you, are you interested in helping me write a book? And I ended up writing, writing a book with him, an Art Link letter if anybody remembers who Art Link letter was. I do you? Okay, good man.
Yes. He was great. He was 92 when we were together. And Sharp. Sharp as hell. Kept telling kept, he kept telling the same jokes over and over again. That was the only thing that I noticed was like a little off, but, 92 year interview, you had 92, you had the career he had. You wanna tell the same joke over and over again?
Go ahead. He was awesome, but, I was I started to get, I started to get noticed by agents and things like that, and people started coming to me about writing books, about ghost writing books for them. And in 2004 I got, I think I got four clients. I went to a big conference and I had. Four ghost writing projects come out of that one conference.
Couple of clients I, that I stayed, that were, I stayed with for quite, for several years, I think I wrote, oh, probably three or four books for one of them. In the medical field. And so that was the beginning of things. 2004 was really the year that my, my ghostwriting career became a career and not just some, really cool sideline to my marketing writing.
That's when I started to go, Hey, now this could have some legs. Cuz I saw what the pay scale. And I was like, wow. Yeah, this is promising. If I can keep up with the work, cause I'm a fast writer, that's one of the things I've got going for me, I'm really fast, which is why I typically write five or six books in a in, in a single year.
I've written about 65. up to this point. And not all of those have been big books and some of those have been published by little bitty publishers or self-published, and some, about 17 or 18 of 'em have been published by big publishers, by the ran houses of the world. But around that time, oh 4, 0 5, probably realistically oh five was when I got more, I kept getting more and more contacts and more and more work.
okay. I'm gonna dedicate myself fully to this ghost writing thing. I'm gonna set the marketing thing aside. I contacted all my ad agency and branding agency contacts and said, I'm out. It's been a pleasure, but I'm not gonna, don't call me with any more work. Cause I'm gonna focus just on writing books.
And that's pretty much what I've done Since then. I haven't done any really marketing writing at all. I've just written, I've just written books since. Oh.
[00:11:06] Ryan: So back to almost the beginning. So when you started writing books and you're like, oh, crap, how am I gonna do this? That very first one. .
[00:11:14] Tim: Yeah.
[00:11:14] Ryan: How did you, because this is ties into entrepreneurship, small business owners, you just jumped in feet first, but Yeah. How did you start figuring it out? What got you down the path to say, okay, I can start doing this? looked at
[00:11:25] Tim: other books. I looked at other, other books peop, that people had written in the.
General field marketing and branding and things like that. And looked at how they organized their books and how they broke, how they presented the information. And I noticed certain patterns that there was a real emphasis on wanting to create original ip, original intellectual property for the author, so that the author could own certain phrases or processes or things like that, that there, that were theirs, jim Collins owns Good To Great, that kind of thing. Where is a phrase or a process or an exercise or a, an acronym that someone owns it, is theirs and is part of their intellectual property. So there's a big emphasis on creating that sort of idea because most of these, like this book was a, was in, it was intended to help my client.
Build his brand as a personal branding expert. Books are very good for that. One of the reasons I do a lot of books for business people, for consultants, for speakers is because a book carries a lot of prestige. Even if it's self-published, it still carries a lot of prestige. As long as it looks.
These, something self publish, it looks terrible, doesn't really help, even if it's
[00:12:24] Ryan: on an Amazon best sellers. Yeah. Even I
[00:12:26] Tim: found Amazon bestsellers this it doesn't really matter. It doesn't, it really doesn't matter. It's shocking. I've always found it a great irony that we live in this world now that's so digital and yet this object made of dead trees.
With little scratches and ink on it carries so much intellectual weight. So I've literally seen, had clients who I did their book, they self-published, no hybrid publisher, no small publishing deal. They went to a self-publishing service, had a nice cover designed, got books in hand. And a couple, these people were like professional speakers.
That was their, pretty much their gig as they went around speaking about whatever topic they were speaking about. And a couple cases these guys, they're both men went, took, got their books finished after six months or however long it took, and told me later on that their speaking fees literally doubled overnight because they.
A book because the first question they always got was do you have a book? When they would book a speaking gig, do you have a book? Wow. They always had to say no, I don't have one. And they knew they were passing up. They knew they were missing out because you can sell books, but it's not just that You can sell books as books elevate people in certain professions in terms of their standing, in terms of their prestige, which means you can charge more for your speaking, you can charge more for your consulting.
You're gonna have access to a greater, to a higher quality, a higher caliber of client because. Your book could be crap, . Your book could be, it doesn't matter. Sometimes it's just having a book. It's a strange dynamic, but having a book confers a certain amount of credibility on people, and even it does make a difference.
[00:13:56] Ryan: So the book can be crappy, but you're saying the cover, so the outside has to look great, but the book on the inside with the content can be crappy and it still helps
[00:14:05] Tim: people. It does, yeah, it really does. Because, crap, I crappy is in the eye of the beholder. It's about yeah, I mean it's about packaging.
It's part of your brand. You have a book you, which means, which tells people that you have ideas that you were professional enough to stick with the project, and you have ideas to share. Now, I ideally the book won't be garbage. It'll have some, the content will have some value, but even if it doesn't have a ton of value, and I've talked to people who had put out books and I read their books and write their books, but I read their books.
and they're like, this is just warmed over junk that's been written in 50 other books. Didn't matter. Didn't matter because they, this was part of their brand. This is basically a really expensive business card. For them. Wow. But it really bumped them up in terms of their perceived X level of expertise and prestige.
And for some, books have the power to do that. Absolutely. I,
[00:14:52] Ryan: I have the dirty question to ask is, so something like that for a speaker or consultant, if you're ghost writing for them. What would be a typical fee that somebody would pay for something like that? This is their first book.
You're, I'm not, let's not take your experience. Let's say you're a middle of the road ghost writer, maybe a little bit lower than you. Okay. What would that cost somebody that's in that space that wants their first book to be put out?
[00:15:16] Tim: If somebody is doing middle of the, cuz I'm I'm at the upper.
Yes. Of fees, but I have no problem to tell you why fees are, but that's fine. I have no worries, no problem with that at all. But you answer your question. So middle range you're probably gonna pay 30 to $40,000 for the writing. You can get it, you can get it cheaper than that, but you're probably gonna pay 30 to 40 for somebody.
Somebody good with a moderate amount of experie. Okay.
[00:15:44] Ryan: That's fair. So I gotta go even now, let's go further up. Yeah. With Harry's biography that came out, what did that cost him?
[00:15:53] Tim: Oh, I have no idea. I can ballpark guess. It depends. I It depends. Ballpark on it depends on how the writer got paid.
I forget the ghost name, but he's done it. He's done, he did. Andre Agassi's. , oh yeah. A memoir a number of years ago, which was, got fantastic reviews and was a huge best seller. And of course, so can
[00:16:09] Ryan: we jump, can we jump right into that? I Let's talk about how ghost writers get paid in the Yeah.
[00:16:14] Tim: There's typical, yeah, sure. There's typically two ways. I The simplest way is. When a book is not attached to a publisher and the writer, the, then the, in the, I'll just use myself as an example. So when the book is not attached to a publisher at all an author might contact me and just go, Tim, I wanna write a book.
However, whatever the contact is, they're a CEO or they're a professional athlete, or they're a reality TV star. They're a a doctor, a lawyer whoever, and they will just pay me out of pocket generally. So now my typical fee is more like 60. 60 grand and up. There's a certain number certain, there's a certain class of people who can afford to pay that.
That's out of rain, out of the real, of possibility for a lot of folks, which is why I refer a lot of work out. Actually there aren't enough ghost writers to take the amount of work that I reject. I turn down a lot of work. Which is a good thing. I always think, I always say, when it comes to business, you are what you say no to.
. If you can afford to say no to things, you're doing well. And that's the straightforward way, which is there's no publisher attached to this thing. They may wanna self-publish, they may want to publish with a hybrid where they pay for the cost of publishing, but the publisher is a real publisher like Greenleaf or Amplify, which is publishing Swipe.
They may want to go after an agent in a publishing deal later on. They may not be sure, but they want a book now. However, they're gonna publish, they may not even know. A lot of times they don't have a clue how they're gonna publish. They just they wanna get a book done. They're gonna pay me. over a period of however long it takes to get the book finished.
[00:17:34] Ryan: How long does it normally take you to get a book finished?
[00:17:36] Tim: Ah, it, there really isn't. There's no, normally, lately Covid really messed with all that. . Covid really screwed up my timelines. I've had more projects get postponed and delayed in midstream. Since Covid than I ever had before. But if you subtract Covid, if you take it out and you're talking about a full length, 65,000 word manuscript from Word one, the planning and the writing, it's probably six to eight months.
Wow. Wow. I've done it faster. I've done it a lot faster, but I've done it in as little as three, but that was Balls to the wall. I wouldn't, I would generally not do that. I'd do it if a publisher paid me a lot of money. Can you get this book done in three months? Yeah, I could probably do it, but it wouldn't be pleasant.
And I wouldn't be pleasant, but in, but in general that's what happens. So that's the simplest way. That's probably the tr that's probably the track. on which I get paid 70% of the time. Okay. The other 30%, and I don't know whether this happened with spare or not, is is we'll have a, the author will either have an agent or they want an agent, literary agent.
So we'll write what's called a book proposal. I only write non-fiction books. I don't do fiction and non-fiction books are sold with a proposal, which is a, might be 50, 60, 70 page sales document that outlines what the book is. The table, a very detailed table of contents, a couple of sample chapters. The marketing, basically it's a, it's a stack that you, first you send it out to literary agents and.
Helped them. One of my authors get an agent a couple of weeks ago. So you send it out to agents and they say, yes, I'd love to represent this author. And they sign a contract and off they go. And the agent submits the proposal to publishers and the publisher, if they find a publisher who likes the book, says, here's an offer.
I'm gonna offer you $200,000 for your book. Now I might get paid a percentage of that. And that's what I'm getting paid. So if I get paid a percentage, then I'm taking a chance when I sign a contract saying I'm gonna get, 30%, let's say, of whatever your advance is. That's I'm taking a risk there because if the advance is not so hot, I don't get paid much up front.
So I don't always do that. The reason I bring that, if you, if
[00:19:36] Ryan: you go into that blind, you don't get to see that firsthand.
[00:19:39] Tim: You signed the contract with the author and you know what, whatever the term, the terms are, whatever the terms are. And it's, that's a matter of what of do you believe in the author?
Do you believe in the book or not? Now, sometimes I'll just do a flat fee, or if the author has an agent, they might just go through the agent and say, we're gonna pay you this amount to write the book, whatever the advance is. So if the advance is low, I'm like, yes, I got. Really well paid. You got a little bitty advance.
If the advance is huge and I'm not getting a cut of it, then I'm like, man, I could have had more. You take your chance. Either way. You take your chances. I've always figured, and I've had agents who say the same thing, it's better to not gamble on a percentage of something that you don't know what it is.
Just have an amount, have a fee and say, okay, it's gonna cost you $70,000 for me to write. Whatever the industry, and if it's a, if it's a $400,000 advance, oh, then your author did really well and everybody's gonna be happy. And, that's the way it goes. Yeah. Which, by the way, I've only had that kind of, that big a deal once in my whole career.
That's not very common. Ge, but it's generally better to have a flat fee than get a percentage. My guess would be. , you asked me about spare, my guess would be that ghost probably got a percentage of the advance and may well get a percentage of royalties because they had to know that any book, that book was gonna get a monster advance.
Yeah. That's like saying that's that's like a book by Barack Obama or Oprah or somebody like that. It's gonna be big. It doesn't take, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that out. My guess would. That all that ghost probably got, 25% of the advance, which I dunno what the advance was, but I'm guessing it was in the millions.
. So he probably did really well. Then he may get a percentage of royalties and once the book earns out, which means it sells enough copies to earn back the advance, which it may not, I have no idea, but I'm sure he did very well. But that's, that's the top 100th of 1%.
Those that's the hitting the jackpot kind of ghosting. So most of us don't.
[00:21:26] Ryan: What does a typical ghost writer make per deal? Somebody that's, maybe got three to five, seven years of experience
[00:21:34] Tim: probably in that 30 to 40 range that I was telling you about before.
[00:21:37] Ryan: And that means they could probably write two to three books a year, roughly.
[00:21:42] Tim: Yeah. I If, if you're, the average the average writer of average. If you have a good system going, if you have a good structure, because the thing is, a book's a long-term project. So what I do is when I'm working on a project, I stagger my books. I'm not writing three manuscripts at one time.
I might have a book that's in the planning stages, what I call development, where you're brainstorming and outlining and so on. I might have a book that's in the manuscript stage and I might have a book that's in the revision stage all at the same time. That's how I, that's how I can write six books in.
Now writing three, if you have a system like that, or even four, probably is not that hard if you do it full-time. And if you have a system, if you have a system where you're managing your time and managing the workflow. So yeah, I mean you, you could, if you were mid-range and you were able to pull 40 a project, you could make, 120 to 150 grand in a year.
Might not say easily, it's very much within the realm of possibility. Absolut.
[00:22:36] Ryan: So you work with other ghost writers, coach 'em up and so forth. How
[00:22:40] Tim: do you I'm trying to, I'm I do it informally. I'm trying to make it a formal thing. I'm trying to build practice, so right now it's informal.
They call me and I help 'em out, got it.
[00:22:49] Ryan: I'm guessing a lot of ghost writers don't have a system that's set up like yours. ?
[00:22:55] Tim: No. don't really know. I I don't know what their work practices are. But I it's not really so much of a, it's not really so much of a system as it is just a work management, just a I don't even wanna call it project management cause it's not even that formal.
I don't really use, software and things to manage my projects. I'm a pencil and paper notes kind of guy. . I don't know that they necessarily think of it that way. I really can't speak for that though, cause I don't, I'm not, leaning, looking over their shoulder as they work.
I know from having spoken to the newer Ghost Celeste experienced ghosts that I've been informally helping out and coaching and referring work to over the past probably two years, really started during covid. So last two or three years , most of them haven't really taken a systematic approach to staggering work like that.
They might work on The impression I get, again, I don't really, I'm not looking over their shoulder. The impression I'm getting is they're working on primarily working on one project at a time, or as one project is wrapping up, they're starting on another one. So there's a small overlap, one project is approaching final draft approval and they're starting work on another one.
I've been I've just been doing it such a long time. and I guess I was born to do this cuz it just, it's not something I learned, I just started to do it. , I'll manage five or six projects at the same time. They won't all be books by the way. They might be book proposals or they might be I write a column for one of my clients for Fast Company Magazine, so I'm always managing a bunch of, I've always got a, half a dozen balls in the air at any one time.
That's just, that just comes through experience. I know how long things take. And I know I've got lots of shortcuts on how to do things. But in general, but yeah, go. Go ahead.
[00:24:20] Ryan: No, but you would say that this has been learned over time and so this is where we're back to entrepreneurship, small business owners, is we always have so many balls in the air that we're juggling.
But if we don't apply the same, I don't know how to describe it. Work work standards. We fail. And that's why I think you helping other ghost writers is huge because you have those skills that you can pass on to others. I'm guessing they're probably not using the same type of system you're using.
I'm not saying it needs to be automated, but you have a workflow that works for you. Yeah. And you can share some of those ideas and thoughts to allow them to be more productive. Yeah. And that's a struggle that we have as entrepreneurs because I'm viewing ghost writers as an entrepreneur, small business owner, because you're tru.
Managing the business. Yeah.
[00:25:05] Tim: Go ghost writing is that, there's two things. Ghost writing is, that separates it from other kinds of writing. It's journalistic. So not everybody can be a ghost writer. Yep. Which is fine cuz a lot of writers don't wanna be ghost writers. I've pitched it hard. I've said I was at a, I was doing a workshop at the, a small workshop in Amelia Island, Florida, a very northeast tip of Florida a few weeks back.
And I was talking to some of the writers, they're all fiction writers about ghost writing. And one of them, one, I think one of them seemed pretty interested in it. The others were of lukewarm. And that's the reaction I get because I think number one, a lot of writers, fiction and non-fiction doesn't matter.
Wanna ha they, they're addicted to the. , they want their byline out there. Now I get my byline on some books, some I don't. But, I'd rather get paid . I'd rather get paid. I'd rather get published. I'd rather work with really cool people. I'd rather travel. I get to do all those things as a ghost.
Writing novels and not having a thousand people read them, if that's what, if what's in your heart, that's great, but you can also ghost write. That's why I tell people all the time, this. , you don't have to give up writing your novels and have your name on them and trying to make a splash as a fiction writer.
If you write, if you ghost write and you're good at it, you can write a couple of books a year bank a cool 80 grand. That's not a fortune, you can certainly live on that if you're more than any, very easily if you're, if you aren't a spend thrift you're not living in California or New York City and and then you can have the time that can bankroll your.
I tell writers that all the time. The problem is ghost writing is number one. It's journalistic. So you, it's a very much a journalist profession. You have to like and be good at telling other people's stories. It's not just a matter of ego, it's a matter of skillset. You have to really enjoy and be good at crafting other people's stories.
And the other thing it as you said, it's entrepreneurial. You are you're running a small business. You really are. And you are running a small business that is charged with caretaking other people's stories. And putting a product up for them that may change their lives or may change the lives of other people who read their book.
And that's, that there's a lot of weight to that. That's important stuff. I take that very seriously. So there's a lot to it more I think, than people realize. On the other hand, on the other side of it, it's just a really damn great way to be a professional writer. What else could you ask?
And I tell people that all the time. I tell writers that all the time. It's you should try this. There's plenty of work. Believe me, I make a great living and I probably at my peak, which is now I'm having my best. I'm on my way to my best here by a long shot in 2023.
I'm probably gonna surpass my best earnings of my ad agency job now. That was, 28 years ago, inflation. But I'm gonna surpass my earnings probably by a factor of. This year, wow. My best year. I surpassed when I left my first full year of freelancing, 1995, I earned more than my best year at my ad agency job right out of the gate by a substantial margin by probably about 20%.
and that's never gone down. So that's been very financially rewarding as well. But yeah, I think, for, there's a lot, there's a lot more to ghosting, to ghost writing than there just, than there is to just being a professional writer. In another way, you have to manage clients, which is a huge thing.
That's one thing most writers don't know how to do, I think, is they don't have, do, they don't have their working on their own stuff, but if you're a speech writer, cause there's a lot of ghost writing of speeches. That's one of the other big areas where ghosts work lots and lots of speeches.
But if you're writing a book for somebody you're client managing, you're, you're doing customer service essentially, and you're managing their expectations. And not just probably about the book itself, but about the publishing process. And can I get a publishing deal pro? Probably not because most people can so there's a lot to it in terms of just, you're managing a bookmaking machine, which sounds like I'm talking about sports betting, but Yeah.
A book production machine. Yeah. So you are running a small business. Absolutely. And it can be a very lucrative one if you do it right.
[00:28:48] Ryan: That is, it's really cool and you hear all the nuances that go into this. So let's, before we wrap up, I want to swing on over to swipe your guys' new book and talk a little bit about that because now you're coming, from behind the curtain and you're actually putting your name on a book.
So let's talk a little bit about that. .
[00:29:05] Tim: Sure. So anyway, and I'll try to, I'll try to bring it back a little bit to the financial side of things for your audience. Cuz this is a little bit different from the other, from Chasing Happiness. . So Swipe is a book started out as a business book was conceived as a business book.
My co-author Dr. Tracy Maillet, who's an organizational psychologist, he and I wrote Swipe, but I ghost wrote two books for him and one and his writing partners prior and they were both on employee Engage. . So from the corporate side. So how do you get your employees to engage with their jobs, basically, which is an important thing, especially in the age of a great resignation.
Everybody's bailing on their jobs. Or even worse, quiet, quitting. , when people don't leave, they just check out and stop caring, which is actually worse cuz you can't replace them or you don't replace them. They just sabotage things. So we were gonna write a third book about.
Okay, let's how do we get employees to choose to engage? You've got the corporate side over here where people or companies do all this stuff to get people to engage with the job. Now we're gonna write the other side. So we came up with this idea of disengagement based on technology, which is, technology history of programmed us unconsciously to think, if I'm not comfortable with something I'm doing on my phone, I can just swipe my finger and change my reality.
And that has bled over into the physical world. We subconsciously think we can actually do that with real. . And so it's lowered our threshold discomfort quite a lot, where we are much, find it much more, much easier now to whatever it is we're doing. Un I'm unhappy with this. I'm just going to what we call swipe and bailout, hit the eject button on pursuing a goal, whatever that goal happens to be, whether it's writing a novel or losing weight, or getting in shape, or saving money for retirement, or learning an instrument.
Anything that requires long. Focus and discipline. We are more apt to do what we call swiping, which is just instinctively, reflexively, I don't like this anymore. I'm uncomfortable. I'm embarrassed. This is not what I expected it would be, et cetera. And we realized that was really what this book was about.
It wasn't just about employee engagement, it was about everybody. Because everybody has something that they've tried to do over and over again for years and not been able to pull it off. They've, for some reason, they keep failing and we re realize that was a powerful topic. So that's what Swipe is about.
It's about why, about the fact that they, that mechanism exists, why we do it, and how we can stop doing it. And that's I think that applies to people in the world. I always think in terms of writers, because of course I've been in the world of writing for a long time.
But it applies to finance as well especially when I think it, and I think where it really applies is in the area of starting a business, because I've had businesses that I intended to start over the years, had all these big ideas and never followed through. . And I finally realized it was because that's just not what I like to do.
Simple as that. I did it because I thought I should. And that gets into the question of faulty. There's two big reasons people swipe, which is again the shorthand term for reflexively quitting something that you intend, you originally intended to, to to achieve. One is faulty motivation and the other is faulty expectations.
So I have seen, and I've done personally, things where people, situations where I said I should start this business. I should, get this company off the ground. I should, I have this idea, but don't, didn't really want to do it. And you, it's what, those are what I call self-imposed obligations.
, you think you're supposed to do something. You think you should do something, but you don't really want to. It's not, the fire's not in your. and we both know that as an entrepreneur, it's hard and if you don't have a passion for it, and if it's not what you want right now more than anything else, you're not gonna do it.
You're not gonna see it through. Yes. That's just not gonna happen. But the other big factor is faulty expectations. What do you expect from this experience? What do you expect from the experience? And what do you expect from from your results? is your ex, are your expectations of the experience gonna be?
Are they congruent with reality? If you start a business, I don't care if it's a small one, you're gonna put in a lot of hours. You're gonna spend a lot of money, you're probably not gonna make a lot of money right away. That's the path. We all know that. If you've read any, if you've been exposed to startup culture at all.
That's pretty much what happens. It's not all gonna be it's not all gonna be living in your office and, living on ketchup soup might not get quite that dire. But there are people who do that. There are people who, work 72 hour weekends and don't get any sleep and live on pizza and so on.
Those are cliches. But cliches are based in reality. So if you're expecting, I'm gonna start this business and it's gonna catch fire like that, and the hours are gonna be, are gonna be. Okay. You're probably gonna swipe then too, because the ex, those, your expectations are not congruent with the experience that you're likely to have.
So I think, that concept applies Absolutely. With complete relevance to the world of entrepreneurs in particular.
[00:33:47] Ryan: And we as entrepreneurs we start a lot of things and unfortunately, we think we can handle all those things that we start, and it ends up being, again, having too many balls, juggling in the air, and we never get there.
And then things start falling through the cracks. You start having issues. It's a disaster. And I know that all too well. Two failures of businesses and now on the third and gonna start a fourth and a fifth. And I'm like, why do I wanna start, why do I wanna start two other businesses?
And I think we talked about this on chasing happiness, is there's 12 and a half million baby boomers that have viable businesses that have been around for decades. That they have no succession plans. . So I said, you know what, I'm not gonna go try to reinvent the wheel. I'm gonna go find a, an entity that's in this wheelhouse that I'm looking for, and be able to bring technology and a different set of eyes to it.
And it's actually been an interesting journey to talk to these baby boomers that have retired that are gonna retire and their kids want nothing to do with their business. It is just eye-opening for me. Yep. Of what goes on. And I think that's part of. , the culture we're in, and we can go on for a while, but we're getting close to that at end is.
we put that one, and I said this on chasing happiness too. We put that one video out and we expect that video to make us go viral. And I think that's exactly what you're talking about with the book and swipe is we think that we're gonna put this business together, start it, and like you said, boom, instantaneously it takes off.
The current business I have, today, just really quick, true vest has taken five years to get to where it's at. It's been a shit ton of work that's gone into. To get it to where it is at today. And it's been rough and , there's been a lot of sleepless nights.
[00:35:26] Tim: Sure. No, it always is. It always is. It's taken me I'm at the peak of my career right now.
I'm 58 years old. It's taken me, it's taken me 28 years to get, and I've had great years. I Don't get me wrong, I've, I, I'm in, I'm close to the top of my profession, but to get where I'm at right now, Has taken me 28 years, which you, it hasn't, and it hasn't been, like this, it's been a steady climb.
, but still you get to a certain point where you're getting certain opportunities, you're getting certain levels of compensation, you're getting certain amounts of notoriety that takes time. The thing I think if, if I can throw a cl a, a closing idea that relates both to writing and to entrepreneurship as this.
Cuz I tell this, I use this with writers over the, I have used this with writers over the years, quite a lot talking to them about career stuff. And that is that there are two ways to think about this profession. There's wanting to be a writer and there's wanting to write, and those are not the same thing.
And I've come across a lot of writers, or should I say, aspiring writers wanna be writers. They wanna be a writer, they want that. They want that self-image. They want to feel like that's their brand. Like they, so that they can look in the mirror and say, I'm a writer, but that's not the same thing as actually just writing.
Do the work and you are a writer, but the aspiration should be to do the work. Yeah. To produce whatever it is you're doing, whatever kind of writing you're doing, whether it's journalism or books or speeches or PR or fiction or poetry or whatever it is you're gonna write. The aspiration should be to do the work.
not to. If you're aiming for some sort of identity, the I identity can't be the goal. The identity comes through the work. I'm a ghost writer. Not because I said I wanna be a ghost writer. I'm a ghost writer. Cause I never said that. . It's like I said, it was an accident. I'm a ghost writer because I was a ghost, written a ton of books.
Sorry, I didn't realize I could swear. So I'm gonna say a shit ton of. Yeah, so you cleared the way for me use program. Great. Appreciate that. I was gonna stay pg. It's, but it's the same thing I think for entrepreneurs, right? I've known a lot of entrepreneurs, brilliant people, men and women, both who have.
Who have had this idea that they want to be an entrepreneur because they love the idea. Just same thing as writers. We're in love with just thing as one. As aspiring writers who aren't writers are working in some other profession, and they want to be full-time writers, and they have this romantic idea and they see themselves as that identity.
And same thing with, I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to build something. I want to be looked at with esteem and respect by other people who know the work I've put in, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yep. And instead, the focus is, then don't worry about, don't go out and do it. Don't think about, I don't know any successful entrepreneur who calls themselves an entrepreneur.
That's, the point. They say, I built this company, or I do this. They don't say, I'm an entrepreneur, that's not the point. The point is the identity comes through the work. If you're focused on the identity, on the package, on the label, that's the, then you're gonna, you're gonna tank because you're not gonna have the fire and the belly to keep it going.
The focus, the identity comes through the. , whether it's as a writer, a musician, an entrepreneur, anything else. Comes through doing the work and focusing on the work and doing the work the best you can and the smartest way you can. And the rest of it, the label comes later. I'm, I'm labeled a ghost writer because of what I've done, not because I chose one morning to get up and say I'm gonna be a ghost writer today.
Did it happen? I'm just an accident. Good action. Very lucky accident.
[00:38:54] Ryan: That's cool. That's a great way to segment and let's wrap this up. The book, why don't you tease it a little on the video and then what the website is for the book. Sure.
[00:39:03] Tim: The book is called Swipe. It is subtitled the Science Behind Why We Don't Finish What We Start.
It's published through with Amplify Press. It comes out on March 21st, first day of spring, and you can find it on Amazon and it's firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:39:20] Ryan: Yeah. And we'll make sure that's in the show notes like we did for Chasing Happiness so people can Awesome. Pre-order it there, sir, I thank you very much for coming on the show.
Everything you said was so enlightening, but also you have some humor with it and the journey of being in a ghost rider. It's really cool to see what you've done and what you're doing and what goes into it because it's truly. that you're
[00:39:44] Tim: passionate about? I am. I enjoy it. I wouldn't live any other way.
[00:39:49] Ryan: Thank you, sir for coming on short notice and I hope you have
[00:39:52] Tim: a great day, Ryan. Pleasure, man. Thanks a lot. You too. Yeah.