Writing a book can be an exciting and rewarding adventure, but it also demands a great deal of time, energy, and focus. That’s why many authors choose to hire a ghostwriter.
A ghostwriter is a professional writer who essentially writes your book in exchange for an agreed-upon fee. You retail all the credit and royalties. Many authors, from successful and established authors to celebrity memoirists, choose to work with ghostwriters. This allows them to produce a well-written book without sacrificing other priorities.
Working with a ghostwriter is seen as an entirely legitimate authorship model, and is in no way a barrier to getting published or having your book taken seriously. In fact, around 60% of non-fiction books are estimated to be written by ghostwriters.
If you’re interested in hiring a ghostwriter for your book, you’re likely wondering where to start looking–and how to figure out whether a particular ghostwriter will be a good fit for you and your vision.
A number of agencies and companies exist that can help you find the right ghostwriter for your book. The Writers Guild of America West provides a list of approved agencies, which includes contact information.
The American Society of Journalists and Authors also has a list of recommended services, including many that offer free consultations. The advantage of using a professional service is that they will have a network of writers to choose from and will be able to match you with the right person based on your project and criteria.
However, many ghostwriters operate independently. If you want to take a more DIY approach, you can try searching for "book ghostwriter" on LinkedIn. The downside of this approach is that you’ll likely spend a lot of time sifting through profiles. It won’t be easy to tell who is legitimate without digging into their portfolio and testimonials.
A slightly more efficient option is to use a freelancer resource website like Reedzy. You’ll be able to narrow down your search using filters (for example, if you’re writing a non-fiction book, you can search for ghostwriters who have experience in that field) and view reviews from previous clients.
Still, using an established agency is by far the most fruitful path to finding the right ghostwriter. The agency will ask you questions about yourself and your project, and these will be much more nuanced than the search filters on websites.
You’ll know the candidates you’re matched with are bonafide, experienced writers, and you’ll have recourse via the agency if anything should go wrong.
Once you've found a few potential candidates, do your due diligence. Check out their website and see if they have any testimonials or samples of their work that you can review. And be sure to have a candid conversation with them about your project, your expectations, and their fees.
In order to do this successfully, you yourself need to have a clearly defined idea of what you want your book to be. What is the purpose of the book? Who is your target audience? What tone do you want to set?
Having a clear understanding of your project is essential if you’re going to find the right ghostwriter and collaborate successfully with them.
Also key to finding the right ghostwriter is communication. The ghostwriter is there to help you bring your ideas to life, so it's important that they understand what you're looking for. As always, this should be a two-way street. You want someone who listens well and asks questions, but you’ll also need to push yourself to articulate your ideas clearly.
Meet face-to-face (or over video conferencing) with candidates to gauge how easily they seem to get on your wavelength. The goal is to find someone who you're comfortable working with and who will be able to capture your voice.
It’s also important to make sure you and your potential ghostwriter have the same expectations when it comes to workflow. Think about your preferred communication methods and frequency. How often will you want to review your ghostwriter’s work? What type of feedback will you provide?
You should also be clear about what you expect the final product to look like. Do you want your ghostwriter to simply transcribe your story, or do you want them to help shape and edit the content? Are you looking for a co-author or someone who will simply write based on your input?
Finally, remember that the relationship between you and your ghostwriter is a partnership. The more open and honest you are with each other, the better the results will be.
Hiring a ghostwriter for your book isn’t cheap. Of course, there’s always the off chance you’ll find a “diamond in the rough”, but it’s far more likely that you’ll get what you pay for. Ghostwriting is a very highly skilled and demanding profession, and a decent ghostwriter will likely cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
Ghostwriters typically charge either by hour or by project, so be sure to get a clear estimate of what the total cost will be before you commit. It's also a good idea to have a contract in place that outlines the scope of the project and your expectations. This will help prevent any misunderstandings down the road.
If you’re serious about publishing a high-quality book, you’re going to have to invest in the process. There’s no sense in hiring a low-cost, inexperienced ghostwriter and ending up with an unsatisfactory result. Reflect on why you’re writing this book in the first place, and what you’re prepared to do to make it a success.
If you aren’t in a financial position to pay for a reliable ghostwriter, it might even be worth putting your project on the backburner until you’ve saved enough to hire the right person.
Hiring a ghostwriter for your book is a worthwhile investment if you’re serious about seeing it through–but lack the time, energy, or writing experience to go it alone.
Just make sure you put real thought and research into finding the right person. Writing a book with someone else is a uniquely close kind of collaboration requiring a high degree of comfort, openness and flexibility.
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