WHAT IS A GHOSTWRITER?

Has hiring a professional ghostwriter ever crossed your mind? What does a ghostwriter actually do? A ghostwriter writes a book for you! A ghostwriter is a specialized author who compiles, researches, and writes a book for you in your name. This is common among highly successful people without the time, or skills to write their own book—but have a dramatic story to tell or important information to share.

A Ghostwriter Helps Fulfill the Impossible Dream
of Becoming an Author

Have you always dreamed of publishing a book, but do not have the time or skill level? Perhaps you do not want to suffer the rejection that submitting to a traditional publisher inevitably brings. A ghostwriter, (along with a ghost publisher) can help you hop, skip, and jump over the time, money, rejection, and connection game that generally comes with writing and publishing a book.

Notably, many famous authors were rejected multiple times before landing a publisher—as reported in Top 10 Most Rejected Bestsellers. How can a ghostwriter help? Under your direction, they literally write your book! A good ghostwriter does the heavy lifting for you and allows you to excel and cash in on your day job. Now, you need not agonize over the procrastination involved in writing a book.

Advanced Authorship for CEOs, Professionals, Speakers & Celebrities

With 21st century digital publishing and print on demand (POD), no one need suffer the inevitable rejection that submitting to a publishing house brings. Democracy has arrived in publishing, and most writers can become published authors without fitting a publishing house’s strict constraints. Combining ghostwriting with self-publishing is an advanced way to publish and market your book at Amazon Books within a year.

Authorship Increases Net Worth & Self Worth

Today, we may opt for self-publishing and use print on demand which requires a small investment and may offer huge returns. With POD printing, one book is printed at a time for a small cost. Therefore, hiring a ghostwriter and then doing independent publishing (or hiring a ghost publisher) can position you as an author for a minimum of 10K (for a small book—physical book, not e-book).

By contrast, traditional publishing houses spend $50-300K investment in printing, then more, when distribution and sales efforts start. Therefore, a relatively small investment to publish on Amazon Books is a great alternative to chasing traditional publishing houses.

When is a Ghostwriter Right for You?

You may not have the time or bandwidth to write a book. As a busy CEO, your time is more valuable elsewhere! You may be an artist or celebrity, unable to put a wrinkle in your rising career to write a book. In any case, you possess a certain “secret knowledge,” and, without realizing it, may have already written the book. If a blogger, speaker, television, or YouTube host, with previously produced videos, the content is already done. You will only need a keen eye from an expert who will organize the content into proper book form.

This is where a ghostwriter comes in handy. You may hire them to compile and write your book while you function in your successful career—without substantial interruption!

10 Qualities to Seek in a Ghostwriter

1. Writing a Book Takes Time

No way around it—writing and publishing a book can take years. However, with digital publishing, that time can be cut in half. Expect the writing process to take from 6 months to a year. This does depend on how much material you provide to the writer. Sometimes a client provides material they have already written and the ghostwriter organizes the material into a concept, edits, and perhaps adds more content. This may take up to two years—depending on length of the book, difficulty of the material, and how much initial direction is provided.

2. Cost—Does the Ghostwriter Know How to Price Their Services?

First, understand when you hire a writer, this will cost money. At the very least, expect to spend $5,000 for a small book, of 20,000 words. Writing a book is a time-consuming, detailed, and labor-intensive process. A small 100-page book, 6 x 9 inches (standard size), is about 20,000 words. If a ghostwriter charges less than $0.25 per word, you can guess they do not know their craft. Even a college graduate, a natural English-speaking writer, should not accept any less than $0.25 a word. If someone is charging too little, do not expect your book to be completed. They are likely to become exhausted, ditch the project, and your down-payment disappears with them.

If looking for an experienced professional find someone who charges in the $0.40 to $0.50 per word range. Some experienced and well-known ghostwriters charge $1 a word, which is not completely unusual. Run away from those charging “by the page.” This could be anything from 100 to 500 words depending on the size of the book. Charging “by the page” is too ambiguous and misleading—and leaves too much space for misunderstandings. 

3. Evaluate Their Writing Experience

The ghostwriter you select should have extraordinary writing experience. You certainly do not want to hire someone who bites off more than they can chew, and gives up in the middle! Writing a book is potentially more intense and comparable to having a baby. Seriously. When interviewing a ghostwriter, ask them for links to books they have written. Read at least the first and last chapter to get a sense of what type of writer they are. 

4. Check References & Testimonials

Ghostwriters from foreign countries who are inexpensive can quickly turn into a bad experience. You should hire a natural-born English writer, who has written at least 5 books. Ask for testimonials and references to ensure they do not take your deposit and then forget to produce the book. Many scammers are in the publishing industry, ready to take advantage of those with a dream to publish a book.

5. Does the Ghostwriter Know the Subject Matter?

Interview the ghostwriter to determine if they are relatively knowledgeable in the subject matter of your book. Some ghostwriters specialize in fiction and others in nonfiction, so be sure you are a match. Furthermore, if a ghostwriter is strong on research, this is helpful.

Yet, it is your responsibility to lead the writer as to how the material should be best presented to your market. Be prepared to explain your market, goals for the book, as well as the information you want to impart in detail. Try to find a ghostwriter who has written material on your subject matter but also be sure that what they write will be original. If possible, pay them to write one sample chapter, and run it through a duplication software to determine if the writing is original. Then, read the material to see if you like the style of their writing. This will save you time and trouble.

6. Ask Ghostwriter for a Production Schedule Before Payment

Part of hiring a ghostwriter includes asking them for a production schedule upfront. However, this should be completed before you sign the contract and send a down payment. Certain deadlines and timelines for both the ghostwriter and yourself are imperative. In addition, you may expect to be in a meeting at least twice monthly or weekly to stay on track with the writing progress. You need to take responsibility for providing the content, or at least describing in detail the content you want in your book.

7. Extra Services? Editing.

Some ghostwriters will provide editing as well, but be sure to determine if the editing is included. This separate task is often performed by specialists. Some ghostwriters can do a light edit, but be prepared to hire an editor once the book is written and turned over to you.

8. Extra Services? Sales Copy.

Ask your ghostwriter to include sales copy, if they are a talented writer in the marketing area. They know your book better than anyone. Therefore, they may quickly prepare the book synopsis for book descriptions, back cover copy, and review requests. If you can get them to include this, you will not need to hire another expert later.

9. Negociate a Book Proposal

If you are intent on being published through a traditional publishing company, once the book is written, with a light edit, you may prepare a book proposal to send to certain traditional publishing companies. This is a separate task and you may hire the ghostwriter for this as well. The ghostwriter knows the book better than anyone. However, the other option is to hire a book proposal specialist.

10. Copyrights, Royalties & Contract

Once you select a ghostwriter, ask them for their contract. If they do not have one … oops—next! Agreements must be as clear as possible. These projects are not easy or simple. Some ghostwriters will ask for credit as the ghostwriter or, perhaps a co-author credit on the cover. They may wish to be included on the copyright page, as well as receive your testimonial for their future marketing efforts. Some will even ask for a percentage of the book’s profits. To keep it clean, pay for the entire work in installments.

Of course, in the contract be sure all rights and royalties are spelled out carefully and completely. In most cases, the ghostwriter is simply a writer for hire and will give all royalties and copyrights to the hiring author. However, in cases of “celebrity ghostwriters,” this will not be the case. Yet, contact need not be complicated. Use a contract as a communication and “scope of work” tool—not an expectation of legal issues!

The Thrill and Lifestyle of Authorship

Publishing a book is an incredible accomplishment but will cost time, money, sweat and in most cases, some tears before the final book is in your hands! I have led 100 books and their writers through the publishing process, and although the journey is intense, the rewards are greater. Indeed, many of my authors have increased their income, net-worth, and self-worth many times over by becoming authors. With a fan base, writing a book is a way to build an income stream while also marketing your brand. Although a complicated and daunting task, the rewards are amazing. Once you become an author, the effort, time, money, and frustration pale in comparison to basking in the sunshine of being a published author.

For additional information explore FAQ Self-Publishing Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Deborah S. Nelson. If you are ready to hire a ghostwriter, visit Dream to Publish.

About Deborah S. Nelson