30 Aug 2019

How do I Choose a Ghostwriter?

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Congratulations! You’ve decided to write a book and you want to have it ghostwritten.

Now you need to find a ghostwriter. That’s not as easy as it sounds, and the process of finding a good one can be quite challenging. Just as with any major project, such as building a house, you need to find the most qualified person – which is not the same as the cheapest one.

When you begin your search, it’s normal to wonder how to hire a ghostwriter and where to find the best ghost writers. The most important step is the ghostwriter interview, followed by a review of some of their work and an understanding of their fee structure. Reference checks are commonly not available, since ghostwriters generally sign non-disclosure agreements. Sometimes, you can get sanitized versions of work they’ve done for clients, articles they’ve written for their blogs or books they’ve published themselves.

Remember, your name is going to be on the cover. If the book is not well written, it’s a reflection on you.

  • A well-written book that pinpoints your brand can be used to increase your income and your credibility.
  • On the other hand, a poorly written book that is filled with grammar and spelling errors, doesn’t read well, does a poor job of portraying your message and brand, and is haphazardly organized will make you look like an amateur.

To get the best book possible, follow the guidelines below.

Set your goals

Before you start looking for a ghostwriter, understand your purpose for writing a book.

  • Proving your competence, authority and demonstrating your expertise
  • Explaining your history
  • Defining your ministry
  • Making a bestseller
  • Explain your scientific theory
  • And any number of other reasons

If you understand your goals, you’ll be able to better judge whether or not your ghostwriter can help you.

For example, if your goal is to create a bestselling cookbook, and the ghostwriter has never written a cookbook nor created a bestseller, you might want to look elsewhere.

Be clear about what you want from your ghostwriter

Before you contact a ghostwriter, write up a page with your goals. Do you want to reinforce your brand? Build your reputation? Is there specific information you want to include? Do you want to include illustrations or photos? Do you prefer giving interviews or write up notes? Do you want to talk to the ghostwriter in-person or is the telephone or Skype (or a similar tool) fine?

You can change your mind later, but if you go into the selection process with at least an idea of what you want, you are far more likely to get a positive result.

Ask to see other works that the ghostwriter has written

If they cannot show books that they’ve ghostwritten (these are often under non-disclosure agreements), ask to see some of their own that they have published. If they cannot produce either, find a new ghostwriter.

Review their sample works thoroughly

Do they read well? Are there grammar and spelling errors? Are they in a logical order? If this was YOUR book, would you feel proud of it?

Check their website

Ensure their website is complete, finished and up-to-date. It should have articles, and there should be regular (several a month) updates with new information. An unfinished web site is not acceptable and indicates your book may not be finished. A poorly constructed or amateurish website can be a sign of what kind of book you’ll get from them.

Check references

If their website lists other books they’ve ghostwritten, call those authors and ask them questions about your ghostwriting company. Also, ask your ghostwriter for references who will be willing to talk to you.

Interview the ghostwriter

Ghostwriting and research requires a number of interviews with clients and othersAsk lots of questions. Find out about their process. Are you comfortable with how it works? Are they rude or easygoing? Do you enjoy talking to them or was it a chore? Did they know he answers to your questions? Did the answers make sense?

During the interview, you should expect from the ghostwriter:

  • Speaking to you with respect
  • Respect for your brand and your message
  • A frank discussion of their rates and payment terms (and any other contractual issues)
  • A discussion of their process
  • Solid references and/or samples of work they have done (which may be their own books due to non-disclosure agreements)

If they have more than one writer on staff, ask to interview the one(s) that will be assigned to you.

Look over their contract

Make sure you have an early termination clause and that the payment is in phases. Usually you’ll need to pay 25% up front, and this is non-refundable. However, the WHOLE amount should not be at risk. You should also be able to terminate the project any time you want without penalty (except what has already been paid.)

Find out ghostwriting rates

Read this article for a discussion as to what kind of pricing you can expect from your ghostwriter. Beware inexpensive or cheap writers – this is a sign of a lack of self-confidence, newness to the industry or amateurishness. Professionals understand their value and charge accordingly. On the other hand, amateurs are not confident in their skills and tend to price themselves on the low end.

You’ll have to decide, do you want a professional ghostwriter who will deliver an excellent book you will be proud to call your own? Or do you want to wince every time someone mentions your book?

 

Well, there you have it. Take your time to find the right ghostwriter for your needs.  Make sure you are thoroughly comfortable with them, their terms and their style.

Richard Lowe Jr

Richard Lowe Jr

Owner and Senior Writing at The Writing King
Richard is the Owner and Senior Writer for The Writing King, a bestselling author, and ghostwriter. He's written and published 63 books, ghostwritten 20+ books, as well as hundreds of blog articles.
Richard Lowe Jr

@richardlowejr

Professional Ghostwriter, author and writing coach
Are you a writer? Wondering how to make yourself known so your books or freelance writing services can sell? I'll… https://t.co/vFBESOj2q3 - 7 days ago
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