10 Things you must know
about hiring a ghost writer
If you’ve got a book to write, and you’re feeling queasy about it,
you’re definitely not alone. Writing a book takes time, stamina,
and a range of professional skills which most people just don’t
The 10 things you need to know are:
1. This can be very finicky work, particularly when working
with publishers. It can be frustrating, and it can be a labor of love
which only a writer really understands in terms of getting your
book organized and done to a professional standard.
2. One of the reasons most people procrastinate about hiring
ghost writers is that they simply don’t know how. They also
don’t know how much to spend, understandably enough. Many
try to get their book written on the cheap, and wind up, not very
surprisingly, with a cheap, substandard book written by
someone who will spend more time bitching about their contract
terms than actually devoting time to writing.
3. Ghost writing ensures that you own your copyright. The
ghost writer should be obligated by contract to agree that all
works are your property. (In some cases, ghost writers may
agree to a share in royalties as part of a fee agreement, but make
sure that your rights are protected.)
4. A good price for writing a book is around $2000- $5000.
This will attract the interest of professional writers, none of
whom will work for peanuts. This price will also guarantee that
you’ll be talking to people who know how to write a book and do
a good job of it.
5. The best way to approach pro writers is through their
websites as a business proposition. They’ll be very efficient in
their response, and focus on doing the job. You can use a basic
payment system, like PayPal, and arrange payment per chapter
using the term “on completion”, which ensures that you will
receive your materials.
6. Time frames are also very important. A good writer will give
you a time frame, and deliver on time. You shouldn’t have to
guess about delivery dates.
7. Communications- When you hire a ghost writer, you can
use anyone anywhere in the world. You don’t have to have
“meetings”. You do, however, have to have a good working
contact and receive timely responses. You’ll need to discuss
your book idea, and focus on practical issues on a regular basis,
so be sure that you can set up a good working relationship with
good communications locked in.
8. Proofreading- This is often a sore point in terms of quality
control. It’s perfectly reasonable to expect a good standard of
accuracy, but you need to know now that proofreading comes in
all shapes and sizes, from the very lazy to the expert. Pro writers
are reliable in this context. All professional writers are allergic to
typos, and know where they’ll be before they happen. Hiring a
pro writer is a sort of vaccination against these issues.
9. Storylines- You’ll get an education from pro writers on the
subject of managing your storyline. Theory and practice vary
considerably depending on the type of book, but a good,
integrated storyline needs to be managed, to avoid
contradictions and blooper-real issues.
10. Non-fiction books are in a class of their own. Non-fiction
includes source citations, a bibliography, and in many cases fact
checking to ensure quality of information. These services can be
specified when hiring a ghost writer, but most pro writers
already know these issues and do these things automatically.
Writers with journalistic experience or academic writing
experience are your best choices for non-fiction.
How do I know all this?
I’m a regular ghost writer. I’ve written academic books,
motivational books and a work of fiction which was one of the
most interesting books I’ve ever read, in terms of gripping
narrative. I’ve also written non-accredited business articles, etc.
on a regular basis.
If you’re thinking of having a book ghost-written, my
Listen to your writer about the technical issues. It’ll save time
and some maddening rewrites when you get to a publisher.
Go for a writer who can discuss your book knowledgeably, who
knows your subject matter, and understands your priorities.
If you want to publish on Kindle or elsewhere, you’ll need to get
some help with the basics. Publishing on Kindle is easy enough,
but it’s not a self-explanatory process,
particularly not for first-timers. You may also need some advice
about Kindle licensing requirements, pricing, and electronic
publishing rights on Kindle.
I hope this information is useful for those looking at a ghost
writing option. If you have any questions, contact me, I’m happy