Ghostwriting A Book
Ghostwriters create content for those who don’t have time, skill, or desire to write their own books. This service is performed for an author who has a book inside that must be released. The author, who owns the concept and receives credit for the writing, hires the ghostwriter.
The ghostwriter is a professional freelancer who writes the content, without credit, by utilizing his writing skills in service of another to help bring the author’s vision to life. The ghostwriter has the ability to adapt their writing skills to reflect the author’s voice. They not only carry out the vision of the author but also advise on style issues and content as needed.
Why Hire A Ghostwriter?
Those who need a ghostwriter are often thought leaders who speak, consult, lead companies, preach, train, or in some other way influence others. They know they have a book in them and want to bring it forth as one way they contribute to others.
Authors who need a ghostwriter want a book for multiple reasons: as a point of authority for entrepreneurs, as an expression of the message they must release in the Earth, as an adjunct to the training or consulting they offer, or as a written, expanded version of their keynote address.
However, these influencers may lack the time or writing skills; often they’ve tried unsuccessfully to write and believe their time is better used in other applications. A normal author may need 2,000 hours to write a nonfiction book by themselves. By working with a ghostwriter, this time can be reduced tenfold, bringing the time commitment of the author down to tens of hours or less.
Writing a book is harder than most other types of writing. The process of learning to write a book is complicated and time consuming. A ghostwriter solves these problems on behalf of the author. Additionally, a ghostwriter finishes this project that might otherwise never be finished.
How Does Ghostwriting Work?
There is no standardized way ghostwriting works but typically the author is driven by an idea for presentation while the writer will flesh it out into a book, website, blog, or other writing venue. This collaboration can take several shapes. In all of them, the author provides the concept, and sometimes research depending on the end goal, while the ghostwriter is careful to observe and retain the voice of the author.
It does require time and input on the part of both author and ghostwriter. When a book is the desired outcome, the author must provide their goal for the book, the concept, the audience, what problem they will solve for the reader, and what they want the reader to know at the end of the book. The ghostwriter asks questions of the author to elicit this information and applies their writing skills to articulate and organize content into a workable outline. Then the concept is expanded into a cohesive whole the author can be proud of. Throughout, the ghostwriter assumes the role of project manager to complete the manuscript.
How To Hire A Ghostwriter
You can go on instinct or due diligence. We suggest a blend of both. You need to listen internally on how good the fit will be but you also want to steward your decision wisely.
Most ghostwriters will want an initial interview. Pay attention to what they ask and how well they listen to your responses. Do they have a genuine interest in your concept? Do their questions reflect a thoughtful approach?
From the initial interview you should get an impression of how well you will work together. Pay attention to not only how well the ghostwriter understands your concept but consider whether they bring skills or other attributes that contribute to the work. Consider how well you get along with the ghostwriter. Red flags would include someone who agrees with anything you say, doesn’t show much interest, and is in a hurry to get off the phone. If there is no synergy between the author and ghostwriter, the fit may not be good.
Be sure to ask about the ghostwriter’s process. Not having one is another problem. Check their past work and their references. Then, check to see what you hear in your spirit.
The process will look something like this.
You will be asked to sign a contract, which generally doesn’t require a lawyer but consider the following:
- Price and payment terms. The amount you will pay and when payments are due should be clearly stated. This defines the scope of the project and the price. For obvious reasons, a flat fee structure is better than an hourly rate. Payment is nearly always made in installments, with a deposit or part of the cost up front.
- The scope of the work is often tied to word or page count and will include revisions. You should expect: initial interviews (3-5 hours total); 20-40 hours of research, outlining, and fact checking (or transcription follow up for memoirs); follow up interviews; a rough draft of approximately 50k words; two rounds of revisions; and a final manuscript based on revisions.
- Rights and royalties. You as author retain all rights of any kind to your book. Sharing of royalties is rare and not a good idea.
- If you terminate the contract (apart from nonpayment), your ownership of rights should still stand.
- Protection against plagiarism. No good ghostwriter will do this but it’s good to have an indemnification clause in the contract.
- No subcontracting. You are paying this writer, no one else, to write for you.
To begin a conversation about ghostwriting, please contact us.