You’ve got a great idea for a business book or a novel. But you’re not a writer. Plus you don’t have the time to commit. What you need is a ghostwriter. We’ll express your ideas, beliefs, theories, life events, or working practices in words that resonate with your readers. Whether your book is to be your business card, a tome to evidence your expertise, or is a lifelong idea you want to bring to life, we’ll make sure it speaks volumes.

What is ghostwriting?

Essentially, the majority of our work is accepted and completed on a ghostwritten or work-for-hire basis. Ghost writing is the process of setting down in words what the commissioning author requires: whether that is a blog, articles, or whitepapers, for example.

Most commonly, though, ghostwriting is associated with books and novels, with most people immediately thinking of high rolling celebrities telling their life stories to a writer who then creates an autobiography that becomes a bestseller authored by ‘Big Time Charlie’. Of course, this is a very true analogy, but more often the commissioning author is someone else entirely different.

Who hires a ghostwriter?

It takes a long time to write a book, whether it is a fictional novel, memoir, or business book. If you’ve ever tried to write a book you’ll understand that not only does it require skill in the art of crafting words and putting them together coherently and logically, but a massive dedication of time. It is these two primary reasons that dictate the need to hire a ghostwriter.

Celebrities hire a ghostwriter because they lack the time and expertise to write their life story themselves. Forgetting for a moment the lack of writing expertise, just imagine what damage withdrawing from the public view in order to write a life story can do to an actor’s career, for example. For months, he or she will be tucked away in a dark and secluded spot as they battle with a keyboard. Engagements are turned down, roles cast aside. Eventually the job offers dry up. Then the book is finished and presented to a public that no longer cares.

Business leaders, innovators, inventors, and specialists in all walks of life have a story to tell or expertise that they wish to impart. This could be as an aid to their business, solidifying their position as an expert within their industry, or, perhaps, because they have been approached to do so by a major publisher. One of our clients told us that he uses his book as a calling card, almost like an expensive but nevertheless lucrative business card. Since publication of his book his public speaking engagements have taken off.

Then there is the man in the street. We’ve ghostwritten some exceptionally good fiction, both long and short: we’re constantly amazed by the ideas and imagination that is out there. The problem for most of these would-be writers is they lack the ability and time to write that story, or they constantly put it off. Some begin and then the enthusiasm fades.

Then there is the memoir writer. Some authors have begun fantastic writing careers this way: Michael Lewis, of Liar’s Poker and The Big Short fame springs to mind. More usual though, over and above the celebrity author, is the desire of business people and the man in the street to put their life story down on paper. And what better way for a person to leave a lasting legacy for their family?

If you have that book inside you bursting to get out, but don’t have the hundreds of hours it takes to write it, then you need to hire a ghost writer.

Selecting your ghost writer

First, of course, you need a writer who has the credentials for your project. Have they ghosted before? (This can be hard to verify, for many ghost writers don’t ever have their name associated with the work they produce).

Second, the relationship between you and your ghost is likely to last a considerable period of time. So you’ll need to get on with each other. Your ghost will need to be sensitive to your needs.

Third, and perhaps most important, no matter how good the ghost is in technical writing skills, unless he or she is passionate about helping you with your story, or about the business you wish to write about, then the book will never exude the passion and feeling you have for the subject.

Finally, you’ll need to fit all of the above within your budget.

Ask your prospective ghost about their previous experience, but remember they may not be able to give too much detail. Spend some time ‘meeting’ with them – either by email, Skype, telephone, or in person. This is probably the most crucial part of selecting your ghost: you need to have common ground and some affinity with each other.

Find out how the ghost feels about your project, if they have any experience writing in that subject area, and if they have any reservations – this is particularly the case with works of a more personal nature.

Then you need to agree a budget for the complete work, and a timetable.

You should get the writer to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), and certainly should have a paid-for sample written before proceeding to the full manuscript. This sample can be used as an example of the writer’s ability to produce the work you want. Once you’re happy with all this, you’ve found your ghost writer.

How we structure our ghost writing assignments

After first meeting, we’ll have a pretty good idea of whether we can work together. It is likely that we’ll have spent 30 minutes or more speaking with you, establishing approach and subject area. For us, this is one of the keys in deciding if we are right for the project.

For example, we love writing about people, places, and events. We like discovering new things, and learning how the world ticks. A project that grabs our attention in these areas, is usually one that we’ll jump at just because it will get all of our creative juices flowing. This runs across the whole gambit of ghosting – autobiographical/ memoirs through to business books.

On the other hand, we’re not at all religious and so we’ve turned our backs on one or two highly lucrative spiritual/ religious projects. If we don’t think we could do the subject and the author justice, then we’re happy to say so. We enjoy our work, and want to keep it that way.

If there is a good fit between the client and ourselves, and the client feels the same, then we’ll agree a fee for the work subject to confirmation after project outline has been agreed. We’ll then write a project outline, for an agreed fee, and we’ll review this outline together before negotiating a final fee.

An example of this working in practice is a recent fiction project we took on. The client supplied his story in abbreviated form, and we then turned this into a chapter-by-chapter outline (about one paragraph per chapter). This gave us a timeline of the novel, and detailed plot and sub-plot outlines. From here we then progressed to the next stage.

Having agreed the outline and the total cost, we then write the first chapter/ section of about 2,000 to 3,000 words, and submit to the client. The client then reviews, and we discuss style, flow, tone, and content. With reference to this review, we then rewrite as necessary, and resubmit. With this second draft to the client’s satisfaction, the client knows he has his or her ghostwriter.

From here on in, we write one or two chapters at a time, submitting to the client for review and revision request. Payments are made at each set milestone (for example per chapter), through to completion.

Throughout the process, we’ll be in constant contact (often to a predetermined diary). We prefer contact by Skype, as we’re able to record the audio, meaning we can concentrate on what the client is saying rather than making copious notes.

Working in this way, the project is kept on target, both in terms of content, quality, and timetable. The finished product is a second draft manuscript ready for editing and publishing (if editing is considered as required). Of course, like all our work, a final proofread is included in the cost before the second draft manuscript is submitted to the client.

Our charges

A book ghostwriting project can be broken down into three main elements: client contact, research, and the writing itself. In our pricing we allow for all three of these elements, with an average of one hour client ‘interview’ time per week.

Whilst our ghostwriting fees are negotiable per project – some projects will be far more labour intensive than others, or sometimes a fast turnaround time is required – our standard fee for ghostwriting manuscript length works is calculated on the basis of 8 pence per word (12 US cents per word).

All rights to the work remain with the client, and it is not usual for the ghostwriter’s name to be associated with the work, though some clients may choose to mention the writer in the acknowledgements or cite the writer as co-author (for example, as in Herb Tabin’s The Facebook Brokers).

We may, in extremely exceptional circumstances consider an agreement which includes a percentage of royalties from book sales.

To find out more, hire our writing services, or request a free content consultation, click here to contact us today.

(Image credit: Darren Pullman via Shutterstock/Salon)