Key Considerations When Hiring a Ghostwriter

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Talk With a Ghostwriter

When you hire a ghostwriter to pen your book, it’s important to understand what the entire process involves. You’ll be investing quite a bit of time and money, and you need to know that the ghostwriter can live up to your expectations and demands. It may take time and effort to sift through all the ghostwriting options out there, but it’s absolutely worth it to make sure you hire the right professional for your book.

The book the ghostwriter composes will be a reflection of you, and it’ll be your name on the cover, so be certain to hire an experienced and qualified professional. The guidelines below are intended to help you consider everything involved in selecting a ghostwriter. Check out our expert services if you’re a businessperson sharing a wealth of experience or an individual contributing to your family history.

Choose the right ghostwriter for you

You want a ghostwriter who’s experienced enough to capture your distinct voice. In addition to having excellent writing skills, they should also be adept at time management and organization, and their personality should click with yours so that you can work together without any awkwardness or conflict. Take however much time you need to ensure any potential ghostwriter checks all these boxes.

If possible, examine their references or reviews of their work. Is there a book they’ve ghostwritten that you can read? If so, read it. However, keep in mind there’s usually a non-disclosure agreement in place with previous clients. If this is the case, they won’t be able to share those books with you. Instead, you could ask to see works they’ve published under their own name to get a feel for their writing abilities.

Agree on a timeframe and deadline

It’s important to know when the ghostwriter can start on your project. If they’re in demand, they may have other projects under way. You might be lucky and get one who can start right away. You should also discuss and decide on a deadline. This is especially important if you’re lining up other people to work on your manuscript (editors, proofreaders, etc.). If you think you’ve located the perfect ghostwriter but their schedule doesn’t match your timeline, consider whether your deadlines allow for some flexibility.

Insist on a contract

Make sure you have a contract in place. Thoroughly review each section so you know exactly what you’re getting. Look for these clauses:

  • Scope of the work/services: Some ghostwriters include the interview, outline, and/or research. Others may work with you after the book is written and provide additional services. Know what you’re getting before you sign a contract, and make sure the work is specified in it. If there’s anything that doesn’t match your expectations, discuss it with your ghostwriter before signing.
  • Flat fee or time-based: For certain types of books, a ghostwriter may charge a flat fee. With this payment method, you know ahead of time exactly what your costs will be. Other times, a ghostwriter may charge per hour, word, or page. Since these are all unknowns, you find out the price only when the project is finished. A ghostwriter may use this method when there is an unspecified amount of research or if they are including other options. Whatever the payment method is, ensure that it’s transparent and you know what you’re paying for.
  • Arbitration clause: It is common to insert a clause stating that any disputes between the parties to the contract will be settled through arbitration instead of a lawsuit.
  • Indemnity clause: Remember, your ghostwriter is not a lawyer. There will probably be an indemnity clause that protects them from lawsuits. If you write anything that is scandalous or libelous, they will be protected—no lawsuits can be brought against them for writing your story. Don’t forget that they’re invisible to the reader; they’re serving as a human writing tool for you to tell your story.
  • Changes in scope of work: You should both agree on what happens if changes need to be made to the whole project. These may include extra chapters or a substantial revision after the manuscript is complete. With such a provision in place, you aren’t charged for every little change the ghostwriter makes along the way, while the ghostwriter can’t be asked to do significant work that wasn’t part of the original contract. To ensure a harmonious working relationship, it’s important that both parties feel the contract is fair.

Arrange an escape clause

Insist that you are not obligated to pay any early termination fees. If you find the ghostwriter’s work isn’t up to your standards at any point, you should be able to cancel your contract. However, you will be liable for any down payment or payment for work already completed, which protects the ghostwriter from receiving no compensation for their labor.

Be willing to pay for quality

If you want a professionally written book, you should expect to pay higher rates. Don’t be surprised if you have to spend at least $10,000 for a 100-page book. You often get what you pay for, so don’t shy away from higher prices if you want experience and quality. If you’re a high-profile businessperson, a thought leader, or anyone else with influence, a book is an investment with potentially lucrative returns, so the high price will likely pay off.

Keep in mind that different ghostwriters prefer different pay models. Know up front if they charge by the hour, word, or page. Also, determine what’s included in their fee. While some charge a set rate for an interview, ghostwriting, and editing, others may offer more for the money, such as help getting your book proofread or published. Don’t underestimate the power of this additional help—proofreading and editing are essential for any book, and landing a publishing deal may be far more arduous than you realize.

Know you have the power

Remember that you always have the final say as to what’s included in your book. Since it’s your book, you can have the ghostwriter change any part of the manuscript for any reason. However, don’t forget that your ghostwriter is an experienced professional, so don’t be afraid to trust their expertise. If you have a good relationship with your ghostwriter, they will understand what’s important to you and won’t try to make changes when you insist on certain ideas or topics.

If a ghostwriter tries to alter your message or disagrees with your main points, they may not be the one you should be working with!

Decide on revision protocols

When you choose your ghostwriter, ask how and when they usually do revisions. Some like to write the whole book after the interview and then give you the final draft to review and revise. Others prefer to check in with you after each chapter or section to make sure they understand your message and are writing in your voice.

There are pros and cons to both styles. Decide ahead of time which method you’d prefer and ask your collaborator if they will follow it. A flexible ghostwriter will adjust to your needs.

These are all important aspects to consider when you hire a ghostwriter. Communication and cooperation help ensure that no serious issues arise throughout the process. When the two sides respect each other, the project is usually completed successfully, allowing the client to reap all the benefits of authordom.

Your key to a successful book is finding the right ghostwriter. Get started with our skilled team, whether you are a businessperson trying to advance your brand or someone wishing to share your life story.

Talk With a Ghostwriter