Michael LevinPeople frequently ask me whether I started deliberately or whether I fell into it. I’d like to tell you that I had a master plan, but that’s not exactly how things happened. I received my J.D. from Columbia Law School in 1985 and went to work as an attorney in Boston. There were only two problems: I didn’t like being a lawyer, and I kept failing the bar. And this is in Massachusetts, where the only people who regularly fail the bar aside from me are the Kennedys.

Two years after graduating from Columbia, I was all but unemployable in Boston’s tight-knit legal community. No matter—I was in my late twenties, had minimal financial responsibilities (aside from student loans, of course), and had already sold three books, including two novels to Simon & Schuster. I figured that if I didn’t try to make it as a writer now, I never would.

Unfortunately, within four years, at the same time that my Columbia classmates were making partners at their firms, I was a starving writer. I was dead broke and actually qualified for heating assistance in Massachusetts because my annual income was so low. Sixteen years ago, I met a man who became my business mentor and one of my best friends to this day. A highly successful restaurant owner, he told me that he had mentored a lot of creative people and that “You can’t do your best creative work when you’re wondering about how you’re going to pay your rent or put food on the table.”

He sat me down in the Dunkin’ Donuts in Cleveland Circle and showed me how to value my time in a business sense. He suggested that I offer private writing classes, because that would keep me involved with what I loved – writing – and would also bring in enough money to pay for my life so that I could keep on pursuing my dream of making it as a published author.

I rented space in a yoga studio, bought a white board and chairs, created fliers, and traipsed around the city of Boston, sticking my fliers in every store that would let me, while listening to Steven Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People on my Walkman. I initially offered two six-week classes at $150 per student. I filled the classes, taught them, and the two classes became four, and then six, and then eight, and I was soon running a successful teaching business. The best news of all was that I still had time to write – and I wasn’t starving anymore!

In addition to teaching my own private classes, I was flying out to Southern California three times a year to teach writing classes at UCLA, and before long, I received an invitation to teach writing at New York University as well. My students began to ask me to consult with them on their manuscripts, and later to co-write or ghostwrite their books for them.

At the same time, my own writing career took off, and over the years, I have published a total of six novels, including three with Simon & Schuster and two with Putnam/Berkley, and nonfiction books with a variety of other publishers. My own work has been published by Simon & Schuster, Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Beacon Press, and a variety of other top publishers. Over the years, I have also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CBS News, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and a variety of other top outlets.

I ghostwrote my first book in 1986 while still in “starving writer” phase. Since then, the writers on the BusinessGhost team, myself included, have ghostwritten more than forty books for our clients, who come from the fields of finance, entrepreneurship, consulting, health care, technology, real estate, psychology, body/mind/spirit, and other fields.

Along the way, Disney optioned and made one of my novels into an ABC Sunday Night TV movie, Model Behavior. My wife and I were on our honeymoon in Hawaii when the movie was being shot in Toronto, so we cut short our time in Hawaii, flew to Toronto, and became extras in the production. We only appear for a couple of seconds, but it’s long enough for our kids to get a big kick out of seeing us. (We look so young!)

I’ve also had the privilege of working with many celebrities, top athletes, and extraordinary individuals, including FBI super agent Joaquin Garcia, with whom I wrote the New York Times best seller Making Jack Falcone, which tells the true story of Garcia’s experiences of spending two and a half years undercover with the Mafia while working four other major undercover cases at the same time. While juggling five different identities, as well as his marriage and family, my co-author was only two weeks away from being proposed for full membership in the Mafia when the FBI pulled him off the case, mostly for bureaucratic reasons. Steven Soderbergh and Paramount bought the film rights to Garcia’s story, and Soderbergh has twice renewed the option, most recently in April 2013.

So that’s where things stand today. BusinessGhost, Inc. has come a long way from those starving writer days back in Brookline, Massachusetts. Today, I have the unique privilege of serving a fascinating variety of highly successful, deeply knowledgeable individuals. Like you!