Become a Certified Ghostwriter in 10 Months!

It’s that time again—registration is now open for the 2016-2017 Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP). We’ve made some changes, all designed to help you learn more, understand clients better, and feel even more confident as a Certified Ghostwriter.

There have been times when I felt like my head was going to explode with all the new knowledge you were exposing me to. I’ve gained enormous self-confidence. – Victory Crayne

You really launched me. Every one of your “Rules” has been absolutely essential… Just [signed] another client…  God, this is so fun. Just wanted to let you know, and thank you again.  – Jane Ploetz

BEST. CLASS. EVER. – Pam Sheppard

Ghostwriting is the best-paying, most in-demand career path for freelance writers, journalists, and editors in today’s editorial-service marketplace.

Lit Skills Pyr


Ghostwriters who command professional-level fees know everything writers and editors know, plus have mastered ghostwriting’s unique skill set and adhere to the profession’s best-practice ethics and protocols. There are only two ways to acquire all that knowledge and ability: through years of trial-and-error, or by taking Ghostwriting Professional Designation Program (GPDP).

This class had so much meat in it that the time went very quickly! I actually felt my brain expanding…. It really went further than I had expected. I felt like I got true insight into the processes that make a ghost successful and sets the professional apart from the run-of-the-mill. – Maryan Pelland

GPDP, the only academically sponsored ghostwriter-training program in the world, is a comprehensive, intense, career-launching course of study. Graduates, or Certified Ghostwriters, report greater confidence, more marketing opportunities, and higher earnings than ever before.

GPDP is offered in three parts over ten months. Each part comprises topic-specific modules in a progressive sequence. To be awarded the “Certified Ghostwriter” designation, students must:

  • Successfully complete each module to proceed to the next
  • Successfully complete all modules in the program
  • Submit the Final Course Project in Part 3

Each Part includes in-class interviews with authors who have worked with ghostwriters, working ghostwriters, and other professionals who can help students launch their careers.

Classes are offered live, completely online. All books and materials are included. Class participation is mandatory. Study Buddies are encouraged.

At first I was skeptical about the format (synchronous/online). I’m used to online classes being go-at-your-own pace. But once I got into the classes, I saw how valuable it was to work together. Thank you so much. – Tracy Hume

Who Should Attend

  • Ghostwriters who want to grow their skills and income
  • Freelance editors and writers interested in expanding their careers
  • Corporate writers and editors seeking to augment their expertise
  • Journalists looking for more control over their own earnings
  • Editorial-service providers who enjoy fulfilling other people’s dreams
  • Writers who want to get an “edge” over their competition!

What You’ll Learn

  • The advantages of ghostwriting as a career
  • How to transform from “writer” to “book-industry insider”
  • The full range of ghostwriting’s unique skill set and knowledge base
  • The professional approach to finding, qualifying, and contracting clients
  • Best-practices for keeping clients happy
  • …and much, much more

I had no idea what to expect from this class, so it would be impossible for me to say it was what I expected. But it was much, much more than I could have possibly imagined…. What I would say about this course to someone looking in from the outside: “You have no idea how amazing this course is! – Carolyn Smut-Haas

Part 1

Introduction (3 weeks, $335)

…to Ghostwriting. Being a professional more than simply learning a few new techniques, tactics, and tricks. It requires a “head flip” from how you view the written word and the book business at large from that of an author or even an editorial-service provider to that of an industry insider.

…and the Book Industry. Most aspiring authors get their information about the book industry from web sites, a practice akin to getting medical advice from TV commercials. This module explores the book industry from the insider’s perspective as well as that of the author and ghost.

Topics include

  • Principles of ghostwriting
  • Parameters of publishing
  • Pitch v. market v. audience

MS Word for Writers (3 weeks, $335)

The book industry defaults to Microsoft Word and Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). This module focuses on the elements that immediately tell a book-industry insider if they are working with a professional or an amateur.

Topics include

  • Industry exceptions to CMS
  • Style coding/decoding for reflow
  • Troubleshooting common MS Word issues

Substantive Edit (5 weeks, $550)

Perhaps the most overlooked stage of rewrite, substantive editing is all about structure, the #1 reason most manuscripts get rejected. This module covers nonfiction, memoir, and fiction.

Topics include

  • Principles of structure and “slinky flow”
  • Nonfiction and memoir structure/restructure templates, parameters and techniques
  • Fiction plot mapping, character studies, and plot/character integration

For the love of god, I am glad I took your course. I am not sure if your new students would find an after-action review useful coming from a fellow noob, but… short version: needy client and a minefield of emotions that will explode under the pressure of unicorn tears—but, because of your tough love [on my assignments]… I am able to handle it. – Alan Hester

Part 2

Ghostwriting (8 weeks, $885)

From the author’s point of view, ghostwriting is all about maintaining their voice. From the ghostwriter’s perspective, the endeavor is a bit more complex. This module covers nonfiction, memoir, and fiction.

Topics include

  • The principles of voice, intent, and perspective
  • Interpretation, manipulation, and extrapolation
  • Premise v. theme

Line Edit (5 weeks, $550)

This vital but seldom-addressed edit enhances the manuscript’s music, drive, energy, and rhythm. This module covers nonfiction, memoir, and fiction and requires a basic understanding of syntax, grammar, and punctuation. Students and instructors will line edit in real time during class sessions.

Topics include

  • Passive and static writing v. active prose
  • Pacing for effect
  • Author intrusion

The range and depth of information satisfied my need for professional development and enrichment. I now have a much greater understanding of ghostwriting protocols and the ghostwriting business. Plus, the course has given me more confidence and clarity about how to pursue ghostwriting as a lucrative and viable career. – Karen Propp

Part 3

A&Rs (4 weeks, $445)

The A&R is both an effective way to qualify projects and clients, a dynamic sales tool, and a source of income. This module covers nonfiction, memoir, and fiction.

Topics include

  • A&R parameters, techniques, and usages
  • The psychology behind A&Rs
  • Monetizing A&Rs

Submissions (5 weeks, $550)

All nonfiction books are sold by proposal; all novels and non-celebrity memoirs are sold by synopsis once the full manuscript is completed. This module covers nonfiction, memoir, and fiction.

Topics include

  • Nonfiction proposals
  • Novel synopses
  • Compelling, effective query letters

Politics of Professional Ghostwriting (2 weeks, $220)

Transitioning from editorial freelancer to professional ghostwriter takes a change in perception, attitude, stance, appearance, overture, and delivery. This final, wrap-up module prepares the student to enter the marketplace as someone who commands a professional-level fee for professional-level service.

Topics include

  • Your professional presentation and marketing plan
  • Fees, bids, and contracts
  • Troubleshooting common client issues

The Final Course Project (accomplished throughout the course)

GPDP is a progressive course of study that debunks the popular nonfiction-separate-from-fiction myth. Each of the program’s 10 modules leads logically to the next; ergo, each module requires mastery of the previous material. The Final Course Project calls upon the full breadth of skills, tools, techniques, and industry knowledge presented over the entire program. This is not an endeavor for the untrained, the amateur, or the fainthearted.

This course will initially overwhelm, then challenge, and finally guide you to change the way you view and manipulate the written word. If you’re already providing editorial services, you will discover fresh perspectives and approaches to your work. If you’re new to the field, you will break through the limitations of your traditional education. – Claudia Suzanne

Program Developer/Lead Instructor

Claudia Suzanne spearheads the movement to elevate and advance ghostwriting. She penned the “seminal textbook” on the subject, teaches the only ghostwriter-training program in the world, runs a high-end ghostwriting service, and founded Ghostwriters Unite, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to the professionalization and proliferation of ghostwriting via education and community. She has also ghosted nearly 150 titles including tracked bestsellers, hi-volume-sales titles, peer-reviewed works, award-winning novels, and memoirs optioned for film. The 5th Edition of her signature title, This Business of Books: A Complete Overview of the Industry from Concept through Sales, an international standard of the industry, will be released Summer 2016.

I can’t say enough positive things about Claudia and her team: always there to help; such a wealth of information about the industry and ghostwriting methods. I couldn’t be happier that I decided to take this class. – Ilana Schwartz

Frequently Asked Questions


Do I need to be admitted to the university to enroll in the program?

No. This is a professional development program and admittance to the university is not required.

Is the course offered completely online?

All classes are delivered live, online.

How long is the program?

The program takes thirty-three weeks, or about ten months.

Can I take the modules in any order?

No. This is a progressive course of study, so each part, and the modules within them, must be taken in the order offered.

How many modules are in the program?

The program is divided into three parts with three modules in Part 1, two modules in Part 2, and three modules in Part 3. The number of weeks in each module varies.

How do I earn the Ghostwriting Professional Designation?

To earn the designation, you must successfully complete Parts 1, 2, and 3 (all eight modules) by:

  • Attending all class meetings*
  • Participating in all class discussions and activities
  • Successfully completing all assignments
  • Completing the Final Course Project

*Due to the length of this program, up to two classes may be missed in Part 1 and up to two may be missed in Part 2. Missed class meetings over these amounts can be made up during the next course offering, after which the designation will be awarded.

What happens if I miss a class?

All class sessions are recorded, and all recordings are available to registered students until the end of that particular Part. You are expected to listen/’watch the missed session and submit assignments as quickly as possible.

What if I’m interested in taking only one module?

The first module, “Introduction to Ghostwriting and the Book Industry,” can be taken any time it is offered. The rest of the other modules must be taken in order. You will not receive the designation without successfully completing all modules in order.

The most unexpected thing about the class was how much I enjoyed the fiction section. I remember originally wishing I could have just taken non-fiction a-la carte (even as a lover of fiction). In fact, I recall asking a somewhat snarky question about getting clients at the end of the non-fiction section hoping I could just get the keys to the kingdom and weigh the option of taking the second half of the course this spring or saving it for a time when I had a little more disposable income. The split appeared to me to be impractical as I thought so much of what we would be doing would be nonfiction. I’m sure our careers will show whether or not that’s true, but the fiction section is essential to understanding what it really means to ghost. If ghostwriting is, as Claudia says, the Apex of writing, then ghosting fiction is the apex of ghostwriting. I never would have expected I would have liked/been helped by the fiction portion of the certification as much as I was. Emphasize that to students that both halves are necessary to getting it! The idea of saving the $ for the second half of class now seems absurd, as I think Derek Lewis said in his intro the textbook, how can I afford not to take the (fiction part of the) course? – Alex Dwyer

What qualifications do I need to be successful in this program?

You need good writing skills and a basic understanding of syntax, grammar, and punctuation. Successful participants will also have an ability to accept new ideas and unfamiliar perspectives. A willingness to rewrite, revise, re-envision, and rewrite yet again, and the personal time/space necessary to make assignment deadlines.

What if I complete Module 1 and then can’t continue? Can I take the other modules later or do I have to start over?

The modules must be taken in order, but can be taken in a different semester. We recommend completing the program within two years.

What kinds of weekly assignments are there?

  • In-class discussions
  • Industry research
  • Skill-building assignments
  • Ongoing project assignments
  • Textbook readings
  • Supplemental readings

How do I get graded?

There are no letter grades for any of the modules. Every assignment will be reviewed with comments and given a number grade based on your demonstrated grasp of the material.

  • 100=full
  • 90=strong
  • 80=adequate
  • Below 80=insufficient

You will earn the Ghostwriting Professional Designation upon successful completion of all modules with a score of 80 or above. Your certificate will serve as a permanent record of your accomplishment.

Do I need to purchase any textbooks?

All textbooks and materials are included in the registration. You will also receive a headset with microphone that is yours to keep.

Will I have an instructor?

“Yes. Each class is live with a lead instructor. Teaching assistants and guest speakers may also participate in the course.

What constitutes participation?

Participation calls for active involvement in discussions and contributing in meaningful ways, such as:

  • Posing questions necessary to fully understand the material being presented
  • Contributing new and relevant information from personal experience
  • Building on the remarks of fellow students
  • Sharing articles, news items, websites, and other information

I’ve been telling all my writing friends about this course [Ghostwriter Certification Training]. I’d been ghosting (or trying to) for years. I now see where I went wrong in the past and what to do right for the future. It’s intense, it’s fun, and I’ve learned so much. If you’re going to do anything to advance your career, take this course. It’s one rollicking ride. – Ruchama King

For Schedule, Fees, and Registration
Click to Email Penni Wells at CSULB