Karen S. Cole
Karen S. Cole is the President, Owner, Founder, and Executive Director of Ghost Writer, Inc.
She tells us that, “I began the company as Rainbow Writing, Inc. in January of 2003, after a long career as a freelance writer for various publications, online and in print. I started writing when I was 12 years old in Vietnam, writing for Stars & Stripes magazine, and also for Variety Entertainment back in the States. I worked plenty of day jobs including home health care for years, finally getting online and publishing several of my own books also. In addition, I’ve arranged the publication of some 500+ books, and helped with scripts, screenplays, music and lyrics, and business documents among several other projects. My initiative is to complement the work of all types, sorts, and genres of book authors and other writers, especially online, and to network with other women of color online and complement each other’s work. My current role is Executive Director of Ghost Writer, Inc. and I send work for hire job leads to members of the GWI Outsource Team on a regular basis, making a percentage from my agent work, which helps me pay for the advertising and cover my bills.”
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your professional journey/venture/initiative and what inspired you to choose this career.
Like I said, I started out freelance article writing in Vietnam when I was 12 and serving as a child soldier there. I come from a US military background, and was involved with the US Navy from the age of six. I was involved with the CIA, the FBI, and eventually NASA as a temporary astronaut and experimental subject for their studies. What inspired me to choose my career as a book ghostwriter was reading “The Ghostwriter’‘ by Philip Roth and also “Mein Kampf” and discovering that it was mostly ghostwritten. So I looked further into ghostwriting as a career, finally entering the field in 2003 and doing ghostwriting and editing work for clients right away. I had plenty of background, having studied journalism at Ohio University 1978-1980 and acquiring a self-determined degree in journalism, fine arts, and creative writing over time. I went to several schools and studied everything I needed to learn to apply it to my career as a ghostwriter running a ghostwriting services agency.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
I think entering the Army at the tender age of 11 mattered to me. I spent three tours in Vietnam and traveled all over the world from there. People kept me safe during the war, so I was protected, and I had many unusual adventures that stemmed from that life experience. Including being in the FBI and investigating several serial murders in the USA. The turning point was when I was assigned to study WWII and decided to become a book ghostwriter as soon as I assembled enough writing and editing experience. I underwent the FBI training program when I was only eight years old, and was hired by them and grandfathered in when I was only 17 years old, to go after the serial killers. My military training helped me in assisting with the investigations against them.
Tell us about your goals, interests, and role models.
I have several Black American role models. My current partner of over a decade is a role model for me, Linda Leon of MVP Productions. I have also mentored her, as a book ghostwriter and editor, working with her on several projects. My goals are to increase the amount of keywords that Ghost Writer, Inc. can be found under, and to broaden the advertising base for my online business. I want to increase the amount of leads coming into our ghostwriting services agency, and to increase our ROI over time. I enjoy going on long drives and explorations of Washington State and other places such as Hawaii and the Philippines with my husband of over 30 years, and reading all kinds of books and watching the news on TV, plus going on walks in the park such as the Sunday Strolls half hour walks I founded through NextDoor app online.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
My biggest challenge anymore is my physical health. I have chronic dystonia of the left arm and neck which developed in 1998 from a medication I took after a difficult pregnancy, and I have to struggle with that every day as I work and write on the computer. It’s hard to go for walks and to work out, and I need to lose a lot of weight. So I am disabled, but I am able to continue working as a ghostwriter running a ghostwriting services agency online. My coping mechanisms involve spending maximum time with my loving husband, and going out for him as often as we can, and seeing our relatives whenever we can. I also spend lots of time online, on a variety of social networks, talking with friends and colleagues. And I go on a series of walks called Sunday Strolls, which I arrange through an online app, as often as possible, and I arrange for others to join our group on those walks.
What impact do you feel you have been able to create with your work so far and how would you want to grow in the next few years?
I have been told by many people online and my colleagues that I have been a profound influence on the ghostwriting field, especially regarding women and people of color ghostwriters. I feel I have been a great influence on beginning ghostwriters and new people entering the field over the years. I would love to branch out and teach classes to people on how to ghostwrite and edit books and other projects. And I am doing my best to grow our business to higher levels of thinking and planning about ghostwriting services. My concern is less with making money and more with growing the business and bringing new ghostwriters and editors into the field as it grows too.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
All I can say is I was first diagnosed with Covid in 2019, when I was staying in a hospital ward. When I got back, my legs were wobbly and I could barely walk. I got over it, and underwent testing. Got several negative tests and one or two positive ones. None of this really affected my work, it’s not very physically demanding and I don’t do personal interviews of my memoir clients anyway. So it didn’t really impact my work, except for it reduced my total amount of client leads for several years. I’m slowly building my business back up, getting more advertising out and more work leads coming in.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
After all I had been through, it was an accomplishment simply starting up my ghostwriting services business online in 2003. Then, when I got more work offers than I could personally fulfill, I started sending leads out to people I had begun accumulating into my ghostwriting team, in 2005. I rebranded Rainbow Writing, Inc. to Ghost Writer, Inc. in 2011. I had begun the idea for Rainbow Writing in the basement of my parents’ house back when I was 14, after having read books on ghostwriting or that had been written by ghostwriters. I have won several awards for my writing work, such as an award for editing adult erotic fiction on Writing.com, and I have ghosted or edited over 50 books myself, plus assisting on over 500 works of literature and other ghostwriting projects. And I have assembled a brilliant team of over 200 ghosts, editors, illustrators, marketers, publishers, and others over time, all of them consummate professionals and highly specialized in their wide variety of genres.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
Girls and women need to be taken more seriously. And not just when we are dying our hair blonde! We need to stop basing our assumptions solely on personal appearance, and more on accomplishments, talents, and potential for career fields. Being blonde shouldn’t mean being good, that is racism personified. Being good should involve your actions, and you should be judged by those, no matter what sex, race, or other entity you are. The writing, editing, and ghostwriting fields need to take the female sex far more seriously, especially when it comes to earning potential and paying for work. Both for experienced female writers and for those who are beginners entering the field. More pay means better work, and female writers need to receive equal amounts of pay as their male colleagues.
What’s the most important thing you have learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
Our Ghost Writer, Inc. motto is: We do it All for YOU! We do our best to fulfill that promise, without overextending ourselves or accepting low levels of pay. I’ve learned over time to work closely with incoming clients and new workers on our GWI team, and to never accept shoddy workmanship, and to advise people on how to perform their writing duties and how to create better work from their ideas and notes. My personal motto in life would probably be, love while you can however you can.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
I believe we need more girls and women in higher level leadership roles. I sincerely believe that the female sex can do anything the male sex can do, better sometimes. We need both men and women in role model leadership roles for our children’s sake. But we definitely require more women in higher leadership positions, such as President of the United States. I’m hoping a female general from the Army will run for office soon, or maybe a Navy admiral, as I’m from a Navy background. A woman with military experience would be great as our first female President and would probably get greater respect, too.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Stick with whatever good things you are doing, and leave all the bad things behind the best you can. Get rid of your bad habits like smoking, drinking, drugs, bed hopping, or anything bad for you and your people. Don’t kowtow to your family as much as possible, don’t try too hard to look good above being good. Find your niche and what you’re particularly good at and for, and try to get involved in environmental and important relevant political causes that are near and dear to your heart and soul. Get and stay busy and involved.