Hi, I’m Claudia Suzanne, aka CSHarris
Read my weekly non-memoir at https://firstname.lastname@example.org
I founded Wambtac Communications LLC, Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program, Wambtac Ghostwriters, and CertifiedGhostwriters.com. I also produced Ghostwriters Unite!, the first and still only international conference by and for ghostwriters.
I wrote my first book, For Musicians Only, when I couldn’t play the drums for a living anymore. Watson-Guptil, aka Billboard Books, published it with little fanfare and a standard advance. But then Adam Curry plugged it on the then-brand-new MTV and, lickety-split, it sold out in Samuel French Books and every other bookstore across the country. (It’s horribly out of date yet still somehow available on abebooks.com for $3.89.)
And I discovered that being a bestselling author paid even less than being a wise-cracking, eye-candy drummer in a traveling duo. But at least the checks only showed up every six months [sic].
Since I could no longer earn a less-than-decent living onstage and I wouldn’t return to the dark days of medical/legal transcription, I decided to become the best ghostwriter I could be. It was the only logical (not to mention pragmatic) move I could make.
After all, being married to a musician’s musician meant I had a family to support.
To be or not to be an author
I quickly discovered I had a banquet of skills to conquer if I wanted to be a ghostwriter. To start, I had to learn how to:
- Actually write
- Write a real book
- Express somebody else’s ideas in their voice
- Maintain someone else’s fundamental intent and perspective all the way through their book!!!
But even more, I had to learn about the book industry—because it was nothing like what I thought.
Fortunately, an assignment to write about the book business kicked off that journey. It led me to repurpose and expand my research until I had a photocopied set of pages I called This Business of Books: A Complete Overview of the Industry from Concept through Sales. I printed 10 copies. I sold them and took orders for 10 more at my local writer’s group.
Before the year was out, I’d rewritten, upgraded, and actually printed 6,000 copies and sold them all through direct mailing, personal appearances, and the relatively new Publishers Marketing Association (now Independent Publishers Association). Thanks to PMA’s cooperative campaigns, This Business of Books, or TBOB as my husband dubbed it, was picked up and used in college writing and publishing classes across the country. And, apparently, around the world. I was completely blown away when someone from China Renmin University Press called me about publishing it in Chinese. By then, the third edition was shelved in 83 distinguished libraries, from Australia to Ukraine, from Oxford (Oxford!) to Yale.
And so, of course, the money just…trickled, trickled, trickled in. TBOB was dubbed a “standard of the industry, got me speaking gigs, and won an award, but it never covered the rent. (You can get the 4th edition from Biblio.com for $110.07. You can get the 5th edition from almost anywhere else for $19.99.)
Good thing I’d learned those ghostwriting skills!
I’ve never been a fast study, but I’m both dogged and diligent. As TBOB spread around the globe, I parlayed its success into one ghostwriting gig after another. Taking all comers, I wrote business books, and pop-psych books, and memoirs, and business books, and true crime books, and business books, and action-adventure novels, and pop-psych books, and spirituality books, and business books….
You get the idea. I ghosted for CEOs, psychologists, psychiatrists, MFCCs, and LSWs. I did lightweight legacy titles for wonderful seniors and legal tomes for attorneys and judges. Somewhere along the line, I hooked up with one, two, then three ex-CIA agents—no, they didn’t know each other—to ghost some variously tame, exciting, and rather disturbing stories.
Confession: somewhere during all that, I was facing imminent death. Spoiler alert: I didn’t go.
But my (then) failing health made me realize I didn’t want to leave my clients in a lurch, so I started teaching other writers how to do what I was doing. Realize, at that time there were all of 45 professional book ghostwriters in the country. I know because Dick Coté made it a point to find and count us all, and when he got to me, I was number 45.
To show you how that’s changed over the decades, Madeline Morel of 2M Communications said in a 2021 interview published in Publisher’s Weekly that there were maybe, oh, 50 or so professional book ghostwriters in the business today.
But she didn’t actually count us…
That’s why I train ghostwriters
I taught my first group of potential ghostwriters in the back room of a wonderful coffee shop that no longer exists. I relocated to the back room of my literary agent’s office, then to a local community college, Barnes & Noble coffee shops, and finally online using Free Conference Call [dot] com.
What started as a 5-week class grew to 7 weeks, then 15, then two separate semesters, then a full year…and is now a solid 12-month course plus an introductory six week class plus an independent six Action Step project. Our Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP) students and grads are all over the world, our professional certification is bestowed by California State University, Long Beach, and my fantastic (acquired) son does all the tech heavy lifting.
I’m pretty darn proud of GPDP. It won a UCPEA “Outstanding Non-Credit Program” award. It’s launched dozens of lucrative professional-ghostwriter careers and has brought some of the most amazing people into my life. Check out our team to see just a few.
My press kit says
- Bestselling and award-winning author
- Poised, frank, irreverent, and funny public speaker
- Award-winning academic pioneer
- Groundbreaking and innovative teacher
- Founding and principal partner of Wambtac Communications, LLC
- Launched more ghostwriting careers than anyone else in history
- Musical line editing
- Analysis & Recommendations
- Creative Analysis
- Nonfiction charting and fiction mapping
- Ghostwriting Psych 101
GPDP’s press kit says
- Demand for excellent ghostwriters higher than the supply
- Most profitable career for 21st century writers
- UPECA 2018 Outstanding Non-Credit Program Award
- Graduates report annual income increases of 50% to 150%
- 100% of 2019–2021 participants rate faculty as Excellent
- Unique curriculum deconstructed over thirty+ years of professional ghostwriting
- Professional designation certification from California State University, Long Beach
- Instruction: 60 videos (16.5 hours)
- Live Q&A/demo: 43 weeks (64.5 hours)
- Independent Action Steps: 6 steps (10 hours)
- Creative Analysis: 4 non-literary ponderings (8 hours)
- Total commitment required: 2-10 hours/week
- Empowering real-world results that can be applied immediately
- Cutting-edge research, trends, and skills
- Committed to inclusive and diverse environment/student body
- Online instruction structured for working adults
My bylined books are
Wanna talk? Pick my brain? Work out a problem? Just shoot the shit?
I’m still on the right side of dirt, and my personal mission is still to help as many people as possible before I go. So click here to find a mutually convenient time for us to chat.
I look forward to it.