How Much Time Should a Ghostwriter Take to Finish Your Book?

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When you hire a ghostwriter, your first question is almost invariably “When will my book be ready?” However, a ghostwriter can’t readily give you a delivery date. The answer to your question will depend on several conditions, and until they understand what you want, they won’t be able to offer a concrete one. However, once you sign a contract with a ghostwriter, they should complete the book by the agreed-upon deadline (assuming, of course, that you don’t drastically modify the project specifications or ask for way more revisions than expected).

Ghostwriters can be found in various places. One of your best bets is to hire someone from a company that provides ghostwriting and all the services you’ll need afterward, including editing, proofreading, and support throughout your publishing journey. Hiring an agency ghostwriter saves you the time and effort of vetting individual freelancers, and companies often provide additional services you’ll need as an author. Whether you want to share insights and ideas as a CEO or recount events from your life, find out more about how we can help.

When you meet with your chosen ghostwriter and provide them with the necessary information, they will be able to give you a deadline. Once the deadline is set, the ghostwriter should deliver as agreed since they will want to receive favorable reviews from you. It’s possible they will pad the timeline a bit to make sure they finish on time–this is an important trick for any freelancer. It can end up being a pleasant surprise for you if they deliver early.

Most ghostwritten books take anywhere from a month or two to a year. Every work is different, as is every ghostwriter, and every project requires a different amount of time. How do you figure out how long it will take your ghostwriter to finish your book? The steps below might help you understand how a ghostwriter sets a deadline and a timeline to reach it.

  1. Meeting and interview: A ghostwriter will need to meet with you to gather the basic information for your book and set contractual terms. They will also use this time to interview you and discover who you are and how you might like them to voice your thoughts and ideas. Naturally, if you keep postponing the interview, even for a good reason, it will delay the entire process.
  2. Length and complexity: The length of your book plays a significant part in how much time it will take the ghostwriter to finish it. Obviously, a 30-page memoir will have a much shorter timeframe than a 200-page business book. Temper your expectations appropriately based on the expected length of your book.
  3. Outline and ideas: If you give the ghostwriter a well-thought-out outline, they will probably be able to begin work on your book right away, which will shorten the timeline. However, if you come to the interview with nothing but notes and ideas, they will have to create an outline that you will then have to approve before they begin. Of course, creating a well-thought-out outline of your own also takes time.
  4. Research: If your book is based on your life and you give the ghostwriter all your ideas, it won’t be as complicated as writing a book that is quite technical or historical and needs research to support it. Ideally, as the subject expert, you should provide the ghostwriter with as much information as possible.
  5. Rewrites and edits: If you receive chapters and offer numerous edits or comments, it will take longer since the ghostwriter will have to amend the manuscript. This also depends on your availability. If you’re extremely busy and can’t reply to your ghostwriter within a couple of days, the editing process will take more time. You need to be honest with the ghostwriter about this in your initial meeting so they can propose a realistic deadline. If you tend to be a time optimist (i.e., you often think you can complete tasks faster than you actually can), give yourself some buffer so it doesn’t mess up the deadline.
  6. Package deals: If editing, proofreading, and publishing help are included in the ghostwriting fee, you will be looking at a longer timeframe for getting your book from the ghostwriter. However, keep in mind that this will have to be done anyway, whether you get a package deal from a company or send the book off to be edited and proofread somewhere else. 

There are times when a book can be written in a matter of two or three weeks. This is usually only done when the topic is time-sensitive, for example, if you’ve written about current world events and you or your publishers want to get the book out immediately because its sales depend on this timeliness. 

However, this isn’t a good idea for several reasons. First, it will cost you more; rush jobs increase the total cost dramatically. You’ll need to pay a pretty penny for the ghostwriter to temporarily put their entire life on hold to complete your book. Second, if a ghostwriter is working ten hours or more per day, they probably won’t be able to produce as high a quality of work. In any industry, people who are rushed and overworked never perform to the best of their ability, even if they’re experienced professionals.

When you are ready to find a ghostwriter to collaborate with you, don’t be in too much of a hurry to get your book back. Quality work takes time. Once you have set a deadline, you know when it will be ready, and you want the ghostwriter to make your book the best it can be. While it may seem like a lot of time, it probably will get finished much sooner than if you wrote it yourself. So, whether you are a successful businessperson ready to share your habits and secrets or an author who wants to give future generations life advice, contact us for expert help with your book. 

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