Tips for Finding the Right Ghostwriter for Your Memoir

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Talk With a Ghostwriter

Finding the right ghostwriter is important for any book, but it’s doubly so for something as personal as a memoir. Not only do you want to hire someone who you’re confident can do your story justice, but you also want to find a ghostwriter who’s on your wavelength. This is essential because you have to feel comfortable enough to share your deepest thoughts and feelings with them, and they need to understand you in order to write a memoir that captures your unique voice. Besides, you’ll be working closely with whomever you choose to ghostwrite your memoir, so you want it to be someone whose company you enjoy.

There are many factors to consider when hiring a ghostwriter, but we’ve chosen what we deem the most crucial elements and included important questions to ask during the initial interview. Keep these tips in mind as you embark on your creative journey, and remember that the quality of your book will only be as good as the ghostwriter you hire. 

We offer comprehensive ghostwriting services, so be sure to book a free memoir consultation and let us help you find the right fit for your unique story.

Before you interview

Before you get started, there are a few things to consider to ensure you have the right questions (and answers) when the time comes for that initial interview with a ghostwriter. If you don’t think through these topics in advance, the interview will take longer, and you may not be able to articulate properly what you’re looking for.

What you should know beforehand

Know your goals

Having clear goals for your memoir will help you narrow down the choice of ghostwriters who can best help you reach those goals. Do you hope for mass distribution? Do you intend to self-publish, or do you want to query traditional publishers? Do you have an existing audience, or will you need to build a new one? Who are your target readers, and why would they be interested in your story? 

Visualize what you want to happen with your memoir and communicate that to the job candidates. The structure and content of the book may differ depending on your goals, so it’s imperative that the ghostwriter knows what your ambitions are.

Know how much writing you want to do

There are varying levels of writing a ghostwriter can contribute: They can edit or restructure a first draft that you write on your own, flesh out an outline you provide, or put together an outline themselves and write the entire thing. If you want to write some of your memoir, you can work that out with the right ghostwriter. Consider not only how much of the book you’d like to write but also how much time you can realistically devote to it—even if you have phenomenal writing skills, unless you can spare enough time, it may be best to allocate more of the writing work to your collaborator.

Once you’ve decided on your goals and know how involved you want to be in the writing process, it’ll be easier for you to compile a short list of ghostwriters to approach since you can narrow down the candidate pool by scrutinizing portfolios, writing samples, and resumes. When you’re ready for the initial interviews and consultations, there are some important questions you’ll want to ask any potential ghostwriter.

Questions to ask a ghostwriter during the interview

What services do you provide?

Some ghostwriters focus solely on the writing, while others conduct research if needed. Just keep in mind that a ghostwriter’s research capacity is limited since all the ideas in the book must be your own—the most that many ghostwriters will do is some basic fact-checking. Some are willing to interview key people mentioned in your memoir, while others want you to provide them with transcripts. Some ghostwriters can help or offer guidance on querying publishers, and others can’t. 

Find someone whose services align with your needs. As a general rule, freelance ghostwriters offer just writing services as that’s the area they excel in, but ghostwriting agencies often provide comprehensive packages that include editing, proofreading, and publishing help.

What experience do you have?

Is their experience primarily in writing, or do they have research experience? The type of experience required will depend on what services you need. It’s also wise to ask about the type of writing they’ve done. Some ghostwriters have experience across genres, while others specialize in memoirs. 

Ask about any books they’ve previously ghostwritten, but don’t worry if they can’t comply with your request—ghostwriters usually have to sign an NDA that prevents them from revealing their involvement in a given project. Instead, experienced ghostwriters can generally provide testimonials from previous clients or publishers to attest to their expertise. In addition, ghostwriters usually have something published under their own name, which allows you to get an idea of their writing style.

What’s your availability?

It’s important to be mindful of the ghostwriter’s schedule and any other projects they may be working on. Involvement in other projects is not unusual for ghostwriters and is not a red flag by any means. However, whether they’re working on other projects (and the scope of those projects) is bound to affect the delivery date for your book. You might be fine with a slightly longer timeframe, but if you’re concerned about the deadline, it’s best to bring it up during the initial interview. 

Make sure you know what work hours they keep. Some writers stick to standard office hours, while others prefer to write in the evenings. Some work weekends, but others take those days off. You and your writer don’t need to have a complete overlap in schedules, but your respective availability should make it relatively easy to arrange meetings. Determine whether you can switch things around to better accommodate a prospective ghost’s schedule, and consider if you’re willing to have your meetings in the evenings or on weekends. Maintaining a flexible schedule during the ghostwriting process can go a long way.

How to help your ghostwriter deliver a great book

Besides asking the right questions and finding the right ghostwriter, there are some important things you can do throughout the creative process to ensure your collaborator has what they need to do the best job they possibly can. 

First, make sure you can supply all the relevant documents they may need, such as diaries, transcripts, or even notes you’ve jotted down. 

Second, be available for follow-ups—they’re crucial for the writer to confirm details and get to know you better so the memoir feels authentic. 

Third, don’t be afraid to offer constructive criticism. While you shouldn’t be brutal, you don’t have to walk on eggshells, either. Ghostwriters know the first draft will require a lot of changes, so they won’t be offended by your feedback (unless you’re rude). Providing honest commentary will help your ghostwriter create a memoir that’s true to your vision.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out our memoir ghostwriting service—we would love to help make your book a reality and get it ready for publication.

Talk With a Ghostwriter