First Time Hiring a Ghostwriter? 5 Things to Keep in Mind to Ensure a Problem-Free Collaboration

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Talk With a Ghostwriter

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’ve decided to work with a ghostwriter but aren’t sure how to find a good one. There are tons of ghostwriters out there, specializing in all sorts of areas, and it can be difficult to find the right one for your project. You know you want a ghostwriter who can nail the structure and the voice of your memoir because you want a finished product that does justice to your unique story. You understand that ghostwriting is an investment, and it’s worth it to find a great professional writer who can deliver a fantastic manuscript that tells your story in a compelling way. 

However, if this is your first book, the prospect of working with a ghostwriter can be daunting. To help you navigate this new world, we’ve listed five ways to ensure you find a reliable ghostwriter and proceed to have a smooth collaboration. Doing the research to locate a great ghostwriter can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it to ensure that your memoir lives up to your expectations.

If you want to learn more about the ghostwriting process, book a free memoir consultation with us—we’d love to help bring your story to life!

Five ways to ensure your first ghostwriting partnership works

1. Research the ghostwriter

You need to know if a writer has experience and what other clients have to say about their work. The ghostwriter should be able to provide a portfolio or great testimonials from previous clients or publishers. They likely won’t be able to show you books they’ve previously ghostwritten since they’ll be bound by NDAs, but any reputable ghostwriter should be able to provide testimonials. In addition, a good ghostwriter will typically have works published under their own name, so they can show you those.

You should also be able to research their history—any legitimate ghostwriter or ghostwriting company will have a digital footprint. You should be able to find reviews or a history of the business. Fraudulent writers or companies will leave little to no digital trace, so avoid hiring a ghostwriter if you can’t find a record of them aside from their website, especially if that website is newly created. Transparency is key, so stay away from a ghostwriter who doesn’t seem transparent enough.

2. Make sure the contract covers all project details

To protect yourself down the line, make sure that whatever contract the ghostwriter sends you covers all project details. Important information that needs to be in the contract includes the services the ghostwriter will provide, the length of the manuscript, the number of revision rounds, the milestones/deadlines and the penalties for missing them, the ghostwriter’s rate and other fees, the way payment will be handled, the option for subcontracting work (you never want to allow this), and writing credit arrangements. If the ghostwriter is reluctant to have all these details in writing, they either aren’t confident they can deliver or they know they won’t. 

Never sign a contract you aren’t 100% comfortable with. Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask your ghostwriter. If they aren’t forthcoming, run!

3. Sign the contract before sending any documents

Working with a ghostwriter means you’ll be sending them a lot of documents. They’ll need to get to know you and your story extremely well to write the best memoir possible, and that will necessitate a lot of material. They will likely need journals, interview transcripts, and any notes you may have written or outlines you’ve created. The more documents you send them, the better they can understand you and your background, thus crafting the best possible memoir for you.

That said, never send a ghostwriter anything before you’ve both signed the contract, especially if your documents are deeply personal or valuable. You don’t want your collaborator to disappear with your information without delivering the book you’re paying for. In the absence of a signed contract, it’s harder to protect your story from being stolen, so you always want a robust legal document protecting you and your information. In some situations, you may also want an NDA thrown in to ensure the ghostwriter doesn’t leak any of the information contained in your documents.

4. Sign the contract before paying anything

Make sure you’ve both signed the contract before you make any payments. A ghostwriter asking for a deposit or an upfront payment is fairly standard and is not a red flag in and of itself. However, without a signed contract, it’s far too easy for a fraudster to run off with a deposit or full payment without doing any work—any legitimate ghostwriter will certainly agree to sign a contract before you make a deposit. 

Unfortunately, scammers lurk among the legit ghostwriters who have worked hard to perfect their craft, so you want to protect yourself with contracts every step of the way. You won’t have much recourse for legal action without a contract that outlines the payment schedule along with the milestones the ghostwriter has to reach to receive those payments.

5. Use a reputable payment service

An established ghostwriter should be able to receive payments through a bank transfer, PayPal, or another reputable payment service. Be wary if a ghostwriter wants to be paid in cryptocurrency or through channels that can’t be easily tracked. Ask whether you can pay them through traditional, secure means—if they refuse, you might want to find a new ghostwriter.

Also, check that their invoice and account information matches their name or the company name, which should also be the name featured on the contract. If you find any discrepancies, bring them up immediately and carefully assess the answer you receive. Do your own research as well, and if you’re unsure about anything, you can always look for a new ghostwriter.

Research your ghostwriter before you commit

The main point we want to reiterate is that you should do your research before committing to a ghostwriter for your memoir. Unfortunately, scammers are out there, hidden among the legitimate ghostwriters, looking to take advantage of people who are excited to put their life story in a book. 

So, as excited as you may be, take your time researching a prospective ghostwriter or ghostwriting service. They should have an online presence and an established website and should be willing to sign a detailed contract before any documents or money change hands. If they’re hesitant to provide the information you need, find someone else. There’s no shortage of great ghostwriters out there—you just need to track them down.

Ready to start working with a ghostwriter? Hire us to write your memoir—we can help with all stages of the publishing process, from outlining your book to designing and marketing the final product.

Talk With a Ghostwriter