Hi, Tell us your name and what you do. What exactly is ghostwriting jobs as a productized service?
Hello Women Hustlers; My name is Roxanne McCarty-O’Kane and I am a ghostwriter. It’s a secret underground profession that allows me to write non-fiction books for clients who are too busy to write one themselves, or who get overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to pull together 50,000 words.
This suits me to a tee because this is exactly what I love and I’m passionate about; giving people the opportunity to become authors when they never thought it would be possible for them.
Not only that, but they create a new income stream and establish their credibility as an expert in their field by raising their profile and following – all this in one fell swoop. It’s no wonder that authorpreneurs are on the rise.
Plus, I get a pretty cool job title that is surrounded in mystery – most people don’t know what a ghostwriter is!
Through my business, Roxanne McCarty-O’Kane Writer, I write book manuscripts and also publish them so my clients can literally go from a great idea and a desire to write a book to literally holding one in their hands without all of the pain of writer’s block.
I have a team that I work with to make authors’ dreams come true and as of mid-2019, the monthly revenue for the business fluctuates from $7000 to $10,000.
My passion project is The Phoenix Phenomenon, an interview series that is now coming up to its third season that features high-profile Australians and gives them a platform to share their life-changing journeys with my audiences to inspire, educate and transform lives.
What’s your own background. Were you always proficient in this business, or did it just strike your mind one fine day?
I have spent 13 years in journalism and have written for just about every type of publication you can think of; suburban weeklies, metropolitan dailies, quarterly glossy magazines, online magazines and blogs for websites with international readerships.
Variety has been the spice of life for me, with stories as varied as court reports through to feature pieces on the latest solar technology and long-form profiles of international celebrities.
Since entering the world of ghostwriting, my penchant for variety continues to be satiated and I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with clients from a range of backgrounds to bring their stories to life in books.
I have always been an avid reader, but never imagined I would one day be writing books for others.
I was enjoying a little too much consistency with freelance clients and had fallen into a predictable pattern that meant I was spending too much time in the office, away from my young children. I was grateful to be in a position to have too much work when so many freelance journalists struggle to make ends meet, but I wasn’t fulfilled.
I went to the inaugural Shine Business Women’s conference on the Sunshine Coast in 2018 and that is where I found my desire for change and it was shortly after I realized that there is a real need for ghostwriters in an era where authorpreneurs are on the rise.
It aligned perfectly with my desire to continue writing as well as to help others with my skillsets, so I went for it!
What went into designing the initial product? Can you take us through the actual process?
It took some thought to design a package that would tick all of the boxes for my clients.
At the end of the day, it was about being able to provide them with a one-stop-shop to go from concept to physical book without the stress of having a stunningly-written manuscript and then having to find a publisher or assisted independent publisher to complete the process for them.
While it was a breeze to craft manuscripts using the skillsets I’d honed for the past 13 years, I knew it could potentially take me years to establish enough industry contacts to be able to offer my own publishing service.
So I looked for a like-minded Queensland business who attracted the same type of clients I do and have an incredible ethos of, “Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Published” and it only took one meeting for me to realize that Cinderella had found her glass slipper!
I am now one of only two Ocean Reeve Publishing sub-publishers, which means that I have access to their highly qualified and professional team of editors, typesetters and publishers without the need to invest my time seeking out the best talent to create my own team.
Talk us through the process of the launch of your business
There was no pomp and ceremony when it came to launching my business. Because I had established such a great reputation within my industry as a journalist, I had already been able to freelance successfully with as much as half a dozen regular clients at a time for just under three years.
When the time came to switch tack to ghostwriting, I simply communicated this to my network and invested in renowned website design and marketing guru to create me a website that I could use to anchor all of my content and provide a platform for people to connect with me.
This going life was essentially my launch and after just one Facebook post, I had three client calls booked in and it rolled on from there.
How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
My business is a little young to have repeat customers as yet, but I am on the fast track to getting there.
My first 2019 client is already so excited about having a book printed that we have had discussions about follow-ups that will cover his business journey. Another client I edited a book for in 2018 is also working on releasing a second in 2019 and will be connecting with me for that as well.
As far as attracting clients, I have established a large network through face-to-face communications and this has been the main driver for the referrals I get to my business.
People know they will get quality and have no qualms about letting other people know that, which is the best form of advertising you can get really.
I have a modest social media following, largely on Facebook because this is the platform where I have found I have the most interaction with my network, and I have used organic posts to keep people engaged and interested in what I am doing.
Because my work is quite unique, as soon as someone mentions writing a book to someone in my network, I will often get an email or booking for a discovery call.
What is the current situation? How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
The business is going from strength to strength with back-to-back projects since October 2018 and more clients lining up to have their book project commence. This has meant that I am already looking to scale and bring on more writers so that I can serve more people than I could be doing it on my own.
With a fully supported back-end of the process when it comes to publishing, the next 12 months will see me grow the ghostwriting component and I already have amazingly talented and qualified writers lined up and ready to take on projects as they arise, with myself still at the helm conducting interviews and structuring the book layouts.
As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
There is no doubt that this bold move into the unknown has been financially rewarding, but it has also forced me to really take a look at who I am and what I am capable of.
In going through the process of setting up my business, I learned a lot about myself and I went through a fairly full-on personal development journey that saw me face a lot of the limiting beliefs I had placed on myself – beliefs that led me to previous work in an office environment for years despite being completely unhappy in it. At the time, I told myself it was because I loved my job (I did, just not where I was working…) but it was an excuse to cover up the fact that I didn’t feel like I was good enough to work anywhere else.
I didn’t believe in myself or my abilities.
It took finding a group of like-minded women and an incredible business coach to help me to acknowledge the positive feedback I had been receiving for my work, to realise that I had been able to work for almost three years as a freelancer just from word of mouth referrals and that I had established such a great reputation that it would follow me whatever I decided to do with my life – so I decided to choose passion.
To be able to say that I now do what I love and have the freedom to spend more time with my husband and children than ever before is uplifting on so many levels.
What tools or services did you use?
Many women, especially those with partners or children, no doubt know that you can say the same thing over and over again to someone and they simply won’t hear it until they are ready to. Well, that was me!
When it came to overcoming my limiting beliefs, it took something as drastic as walking on fire to make me realize that I was enough. I just needed to believe in myself. The moment I cast that into the fire and then walked on it while on a Find Your Fire retreat with Erin and Kurek Ashley, I never looked back.
To get established, I enlisted the help of a mentor and business coach who focused on service-based businesses and also had a background in media and publications, so she instinctively knew what was possible for me and showed me how to engage the business part of my brain to move forward with confidence.
I also decided to outsource the creation of my website – which has become a priceless interface for clients who don’t come to me by word of mouth – to a professional who is highly skilled in web development and personal branding and she was amazing. It took a lot of pressure off my trying to do it myself while also establishing myself as a businesswoman.
What are your key challenges today? How are you planning to tackle those?
My key business challenges lie in scalability.
What began as a sole trader business is quickly growing wings and I am already on the path to tackling this by enlisting the help of a team of passionate and highly-skilled writers to assist with manuscript creation for clients.
I will remain the face-to-face contact for clients and will largely structure the manuscript flow and layout, but this will give other writers an opportunity to hone their skills in a niche industry and it feels amazing to be in a position where I can offer employment to other writers.
I also want to offer writing mentorships to those who wish to write their own books, and plan to create a group environment that is interactive and educational so that everyone gets the most inspiration possible from each session so they end up with incredible results on their respective writing journeys.
Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
I have become a huge consumer of books on leadership and rate Brendan Burchard’s The Charge up there with just about anything by Brene Brown.
As far as resources, I have been working hard on my mindfulness and meditation in order to give my mind some space from time to time to process the things that are happening around me. I have found Erin Ashley’s Five-Day Meditation Challenge to be a great starting point for me to begin.
An insider’s tip from a longtime journalist – if you are looking for an easy way to get some free PR (other than writing your own book…) list yourself on Source Bottle and you could be contacted by journalists and bloggers who are looking for experts in your field.
Many times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
I do believe there could be many more women in the upper echelons of the business world, but I don’t think that business is considered a male-only realm any longer. So many female entrepreneurs are kicking ass and taking names and establishing themselves with the respect and admiration of their male counterparts.
Once upon a time, a strong businesswoman was portrayed as having more masculine characteristics, but now a strong businesswoman uses her feminine power to assert her position in her given industry.
More and more women are capitalizing on unique ideas and creative solutions to bring new and exciting businesses into the world and are no longer afraid to scale and reach their business goals and it’s freakin’ awesome!
Looking to kick start your own venture?
Hi! This is Misha?
My idea is for other women to get inspired by these actionable tell-all stories and start their own profitable enterprises.
I am hugely inspired by inspirational interview series starters like IndieHackers, StarterStory by Pat Walls, Failory, SpaceBandits and have put significant efforts in reaching out to women founders in order to get started.