What to look for in a ghostwriter
Ghostwriters are the unsung heroes behind thousands of bestselling books — from celebrity autobiographies to business books and even works of fiction. If you have an important story to tell, but don’t possess the writing skills (or the time) to put it down on paper, you can hire a ghostwriter to write that book for you.
Ghostwriters are rarely the official “author” of the book, though they are sometimes mentioned as a “co-author” in a book’s Acknowledgments. Some ghostwriters prefer the term "collaborator" as they see the project as a partnership with the author. More often than not, however, they are bound by confidentiality clauses that prevents them from revealing which books they have ghostwritten.
But where can you find that dream ghostwriter, who’ll be able to capture your voice and tell your story the exact way you want it told?
What if I’ve written most of my book already?
Some ghostwriters will also accept unfinished manuscripts, and work with the author to write the missing parts. Such a job usually requires a mix of developmental editing (to restructure the book) and ghostwriting, and can be just as time-consuming for the ghostwriter as writing the book from the outset.
How to find a ghostwriter
First, you should be looking for someone familiar with the subject of your book, and who is willing to spend the time to get to know your vision for the project.
You also need to find someone whose personality gels with yours, and whose style appeals to you. Get a sense both of their writing style (by reading what they’ve written already) and of their personality (by arranging face-to-face interviews when possible). Communication is absolutely key when reaching out to prospective ghostwriters, to ensure you make the best decision for your book.
It is important that you feel completely safe from the get-go, and ready to entrust the ghostwriter with the inner secrets of your story. Choose someone you’re confident will do your story justice.
What is the process of working with a ghostwriter?
Once you’re set on a ghostwriter, there are several ways to start the collaboration. The most common one is to sit down with them (figuratively, or in real life), and have them record your story. Andrew Crofts, one of the ghostwriters on Reedsy, gives a good idea of what the process should look like:
“In an ideal world you will spend a few days recording before the ghost goes away to write the first draft. You will meet up again, tell them if they are going wrong and put right anything that they have misunderstood, or that you forgot to tell them at the first meetings. They will then produce a final version.”
In reality, the process can of course be longer, and require more back-and-forth before you get to this final version. You can also ask your ghostwriter to share the chapters with you as they write them — though that should be made clear from the start.
In the end, it’s all about keeping an open and honest communication to make sure you are both on the same line.
Why should I trust Reedsy ghostwriters?
Like all of the professionals on the marketplace, Reedsy ghostwriters have been carefully hand-picked by our staff from thousands of applicants. We have done all the background checks for you to ensure the ghostwriters on our website are veteran professionals with an established reputation.
They are used to working with publishers, agents, and first-time authors alike, so they will be able to help guide you through the entire process.
How much does it cost?
Reedsy allows professionals to set their own fees. Once a year, we analyze the data from our marketplace and make it public in a blog post. Click here to learn more.
What clauses should I check for in a ghostwriting contract?
Confidentiality: All standard ghostwriting contracts contain a non-disclosure agreement, preventing the ghostwriter from revealing any information about the book and contract to any third party.
Copyright: The contract should attribute all intellectual property of the ghostwritten book to you (usually pending full payment), unless you intend to make the ghostwriter a “co-author” of the book.
Payment and royalties: When commissioned by publishers or agents, ghostwriters are often remunerated through a fixed fee and a percentage of future royalties from book sales. If you’re an independent author however, it will be nearly impossible to convince a professional ghostwriter to work with you on a royalty-share model (unless you’re a celebrity of course).
Termination clause: Ghostwriting projects can be complex, and don’t always go exactly according to plan. A ghostwriting contract will usually include a provision for more work, as well as a termination clause with a “kill fee” should you decide to part ways.