5 Things to Consider When Hiring a Ghostwriter

By: Mary Anna Rodabaugh in Book Writing and Editing
on February 26th, 2021

Ghostwriters are exceptionally talented and passionate editorial specialists who love bringing others’ stories to life. They thrive on matching the author’s voice to the typed words and have a keen sense for blending narratives into a complete manuscript. Most ghostwriters simply love writing, whether it is their own work or a client’s book. If you are thinking about hiring a ghostwriter for your next project, there are a few things you may want to consider.

Finding Your Perfect Ghostwriter

The first thing you need to do is consider what personality traits in a ghostwriter are important to you as you browse ghostwriting services. It is similar to choosing a primary care physician. Does their gender identity matter to you? Would you prefer someone older or younger than you? Are you seeking a ghostwriter with a specific background? Most ghostwriters pride themselves on being the jack-of-all-trades. However, a writer with a strong technological and academic writing background may have a different flair for your romantic memoir project.

Make a list of all the qualities you are seeking in your ghostwriter and use that as your guide as you begin the selection process. Even though your ghostwriter is going to do the bulk of the actual “writing,” you are both going to write your book together. You want to make sure you are professionally compatible.

Spending Time with Your Ghostwriter

Next, you must determine how much time you are willing to spend with your ghostwriter. What can you commit to? You will want to give your ghostwriter more information than they could possibly need to write your book. Then the writer will need to get a feel for your voice, tone, pacing of speech, and anything else that makes the writing “sound” like you. You will work on an outline together, map chapters, and develop goals for the book. This can be achieved over Zoom calls, phone calls, email, or even in person.

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You will also want to factor in how much time you have available to field questions from your ghostwriter and in what manner you will make yourself available. The last thing you need is for your ghostwriter to get stuck on a chapter because they couldn’t reach you for clarification.

Collaboration and Your Ghostwriter

Which brings us to the collaboration aspect of hiring a ghostwriter. If you hire a ghostwriter through an agency or storytelling company, there will probably be a process in place for how you are to collaborate together. If you’re hiring a ghostwriter who works on their own, it will be up to the two of you to determine how you will collaborate throughout the project.

Will you review each chapter upon completion and require edits chapter by chapter? Or will you ask for a specific word count or page count to be completed before you review for edits? You also need to choose the best method for collaborative editing. Will you use a program such as Google Docs or email a word processing document back and forth? Take note of your preferences so you can discuss these with your ghostwriter early in the project.

Creative Control and Your Ghostwriter

Most people hire ghostwriters because they feel they are not good at writing, they do not know how to take their stories and create a manuscript, or they do not have the time to write a book. Before you hire a ghostwriter, you must determine how much creative control and freedom you are comfortable allowing. Your ghostwriter will not take an idea and run with it without consulting you first, but how much of your manuscript can your ghostwriter develop on their own before you need to approve it?

“Your ghostwriter will not take an idea and run with it without consulting you first, but how much of your manuscript can your ghostwriter develop on their own before you need to approve it?”

Having someone else write your story is exciting, but it can also stir up a need for creative control. After all, it is your story. The creative leash lengthens once trust has been established between the ghostwriter and client. It is up to you to determine how much control you are willing to relinquish out of the gate to make your project successful.

Acknowledging Your Ghostwriter

At the conclusion of your project, you may feel a profound bond between you and your ghostwriter. Writing a book is an intimate journey full of vulnerability and emotions. Knowing your ghostwriter brought your manuscript to life, you might be struggling how to credit them for their hard work.

Ghostwriters do not do their job for credit, recognition, or fame. They do it because they love writing and love helping other people tell their stories. Therefore, no acknowledgment or credit is mandatory. If you still feel strongly about crediting your ghostwriter in some way, you can choose to list them in your dedication or acknowledgments section of your book.

Above all, know that you are in complete control of the ghostwriting process. It is just important to remember these five considerations before beginning your book writing journey.

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