26 May 2017

So You Want to Hire A Ghostwriter…

2 Comments

I gave a speech about ghostwriting to the “Learn & Earn” Money Secrets & Networking Lunch in Clearwater.

You can listen to the entire speech here and learn more about what it means to hire a ghostwriter.

This meetings’ speaker is: Richard G. Lowe, Owner of The Writing King, which specializes in fulfilling any writing need. Because writing is his passion, Richard remains incredibly creative and prolific; each day he completes between 5,000 and 10,000 words, diligently using language to bring the world to life so that others may learn and be entertained.

“Every business needs a book.” A book establishes your credibility, defines your brand and documents you as the expert in the area. Your book can precisely present exactly the message you want to deliver to show background, case studies, humorous stories that illustrate your points, your experience and the reasons why you are the best at what you do.

A ghostwriter has the experience and knowledge to interview you and get the precise message you intend written in book form. They will work with you through the process, writing each chapter, then collaborating with you to ensure it is precisely correct.

When the book is finished, you can proudly offer it to potential clients to showcase everything your business has to offer.


Richard: My name is Richard Lowe and I am a ghostwriter. The first thing everybody says when I mention that is, “What does a ghostwriter do?” A ghostwriter writes the book for you and you publish it under your name. So if you hired me to be a ghostwriter to write about your IRA service, you would be the author; I’m invisible – I don’t exist. There are ghostwriting contracts where that’s not true or it is “As told by,” but every contract I have been on, I am hidden. I get paid on a contract for hire to write a book for somebody and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. I’m almost a professional writer, blogger, I told you I do LinkedIn makeovers, branding stuff too.

Why would you want to book, is the first question. Why would anybody write a book? Obviously, the super rich and the politicians, they write books because they have the money and they want to be known, but if you run a business, it helps to brand your business. I just wrote a sales book, a guy is putting together a course on his whole sales process and I wrote the book on that process – it’s about a 100 pages long – that explains it all. He has cute little stories on how people succeeded with it and how people failed when they didn’t use it. It was fun to write. That brands him so he can now pass that out to people and so forth.

Some people like to write their memoirs. Also, a lot of ministers write books. They have a ministry and they want to get out a book to their congregation – they’re usually a little bit shorter than the other two – that explains whatever their religion is, God or Buddha or whatever. I haven’t done one of those yet, but I know some ghostwriters who have. They are, quite often, a lot of fun to write. One of my ghostwriter friends wrote one on a guy who was in prison, he was a drug dealer. You name it, he was it. When he got out of prison, he became a minister and he came to my friend and he wrote a book on his journey to prove that anybody can find the Lord, even him. It was supposedly quite a bit of fun to write. He was a narcotics runner in the Vietnam War kind of thing; really bad guy. Now he’s as nice as can be, full of tattoos. That is why you write a book – to brand yourself or to, of course, record your memories in some way.

Branding, let’s get into that a little bit more. A business person might have an online course like the salesperson did. They might want to have a book to go along with that. What it does is, when you have this book, is I’m sitting at my desk and you’re the client and you come in and I’ve got my books behind me and I have my picture on the cover and you go, “You wrote a book,” and immediately, it establishes you as the expert because you wrote a book. Obviously, you didn’t, but you did. You have your picture on the cover and it’s got your name on it and that is very powerful. Then you pull it off the shelf with a lot of flair and you open it up and show them some passages and you offer to sign it for them and give them a free copy. You’ve got them halfway to making a deal right there just because of the book. The idea of a book is you’re not going to make money selling this on Amazon, you make a few dollars maybe, you’re going to make money from what I just said – you’re going to make money using it to sell your other business and that’s the branding thing.

Memoirs I went into. Another one on a man from Afghanistan who did all the roads in Afghanistan. Just before the Soviets invaded, he got a phone call from somebody that said, “Leave now or they’re going to put you on a wall and shoot you,” so he had to spend the next month hiding in Afghanistan and finally got out through Pakistan. I got to write his story and that was quite interesting.

Female: They said, “Leave now,” or they’re going to do what?

Richard: Put him up against the wall and shoot him and his family. He and his family had to get out, and one of the stories is he had to go to the bank to get his money and the bank teller, who didn’t even really know him, said, “Don’t take out your money because then they’ll know you’re still here and you’re going to be leaving and they’re going to hunt you down,” so he had to go to Pakistan with no money in his pocket, hitchhike, basically, down there across the Durand Line, which is considered the most dangerous place in the entire planet, Taliban and stuff. It was an interesting book to write.

Female: Wow, that’s powerful.

Richard: He wanted to put his memoirs down before he dies. We never finished that; he decided to go back to Afghanistan and we’ll publish it years from now when he comes back, if he comes back. He wants to do something over there, I don’t know. He has a really tough accent, so it’s hard to talk to him.

So what is ghostwriting? Anybody here know how to write a book other than you?

Male:  I’ve written a few articles for the newspapers and whatnot and a few intelligence reports.

Richard: Book writing is very difficult. Let me tell you, I am on my almost 30th book and it’s a lot of work, especially ghostwriting. You’ve got to interview somebody multiple times. I’m on one right now, for example, at the collaboration end. Every day we’re on the phone talking and interviewing and we’re going through these chapters and changing it. It is one heck of a lot of work. Ghostwriting is that – it’s where you don’t have to write, but you do have to tell me what you want to write.

What is your business? Anybody? IRAs. We would sit down and we would talk about IRAs and you would tell me good stories about IRAs and how people have been helped by it and what the process is, and I would write up the chapters on that and put it together in a book and that’s what it is.

Why do you hire one? I’ve already talked about – you brand your business. The guy that I just talked about that we’re collaborating with, he is a manager and he sells a type of management service, which I can’t go into because ghostwriting is interesting because you are under a nondisclosure for the most part so you have to be kind of vague. He wants to use a book to brand himself, so he wanted me to write a novel about a company without his business and then how he helped them become a multi-billion dollar company with his management services. It’s actually a novel, it’s kind of cool. [inaudible 00:07:22] ghostwriting a novel for and it was kind of interesting and it wasn’t something I expected. That’s actually fairly common, to novelize how things work. We could novelize the IRA and have a couple come in who’s young and then follow them through life and how, at the end, you turned out to be super helpful for them and they had a great life because of you. It could be a nice little book.

Female: It would be good to have my dad write a section and then I write a section to explain what he explained. If anybody’s seen my dad, he forgets.

Female: Yeah. Make it easy for people.

Richard: One thing a ghostwriter is is a project manager and that’s something that you have to look out for when you’re looking for ghostwriters. You’re not just looking for a writer; you’re looking for somebody can manage the project. He’s really a consultant. Writing a book is not something you do in a day. It usually may take anywhere from six weeks to six months and sometimes years, so this guy has to be a project [inaudible 00:08:29], has to be a project manager, has to be able to manage you, the person who hires me. I have to be able to manage you, your time, get you to do interviews, even though you’re really busy and you’ve got better things to do, partially because of the way I’m paid. I’m paid as I go, so I get paid more for quicker when I get you to finish.

That’s one of the reasons why. The other reason is it’s a project; you need to manage it that way. When you’re looking for ghostwriter, you’ve got to look at the writing, but you’ve also got to look at how they manage their time and their projects and things. Were they on time for the meeting? Did they manage the meeting? Did they set up an interview? Did they manage it well? If they didn’t do that, you don’t want to talk to them; you’re done. Because it’s going to be a long project and you’re going to be dealing with this person for quite a while and you don’t want to slip through the cracks when it comes to something unimportant to him or only important when he gets paid. I’m sure you’ve all worked with consultants before you’ve had those kind of consultants –  it’s important for them, suddenly, because you owe them a payment, but otherwise, wherever. Because they’re always concerned about the next paycheck.

You hire them because you’re busy getting clients and you don’t have the time to write a book. You can make an hour here or an hour there to do an interview, but the writing of the book, that’s a lot of time and a lot of effort. You don’t know how to write – a lot of people don’t know how to write. Most of us write memos, letters, emails; we don’t write books. How do you write a book? What is a book? Really, what is a book? A book is a bunch of words, obviously, but each paragraph should hook to the next paragraph. So each paragraph says, “Reader, read the next one.” Each chapter hooks more heavily into the next chapter. You’ve got them; you’ve got to keep going. The best novels are like this, when you get to the end of the chapter, you want to move on. The end of the book should hook you into the service, whatever service is being sold by the person I’m writing the book for. I want to sell this network marketing service at the end of the book, the person should be sold or disqualified, one or the other. Because that’s part of the purpose is to get people who aren’t going to buy it out of the way.

Memoirs are the most difficult to write especially because, at least the ones I’ve got, this Afghan guy and his accent and then I had Hispanic guy, difficult to understand. You’ve just got to work through all that stuff. One of the interesting things about being a ghostwriter is I’m writing the book as if I were you. This is a challenge for ghostwriter is I’m not writing a book for me; I’m writing a book for you or you, so I have to write it in your voice. So we’ll spend the first few chapters of the book figuring out what that voice is. Do you want it to be a novel? Do you want it first person or third person? Do you want it to be explained in stories or do you want it to be explained as just straight words or prose or do you want to be technical? Those are the hardest to write, the technical ones. I worked on one for medical lawyer and, oh my God, the words. It was like, “I’m going to go to sleep now.” Those are the hard ones to write because you’ve got so much to learn. That’s why you hire a ghostwriter.

How does it work? It’s done on a work for hire basis, which means you own the copyrights, you own the finished project. I don’t own anything. You’re paying me money to do it for you, just like you’re paying somebody to put in a pool or put in furniture or build a house, you’re paying a ghostwriter to write a book – you own it. If, for whatever reason, the contract is terminated early, you should definitely get whatever the ghostwriter has done up to that point because you own it and you paid for it. If the ghostwriter won’t do that, he doesn’t have any integrity and feel free to badmouth him all over the place. As long as you paid the person, then he should be giving you the stuff that he or she has done so far.

Before you start ghostwriting, they should be willing to do a one or two hour interview on the phone or on Skype, if they are local, in person, to find out what your thing is about, what you’re trying to accomplish, who your market is, who your readers are, how you’re going to brand yourself. They should be asking questions like that. I’m assuming most of you would be writing business books, for example, if you were going to write one. What kind of business you’re going to do, he should be asking all kinds of questions like that.

He shouldn’t be talking anything at all about how much it’s going to cost at this point because he doesn’t know. The ghostwriter doesn’t know what it’s going to cost from that first hour. How could he know? But once he’s gone through that first hour or two, he may have a better understanding and may be able to come up with a price. Once that initial consultation is done, a ghostwriter should put together what is called a statement of work – you would call it a contract. A statement of work says, “This is what I’m going to do for you. I’m going to write a book, it’s going to be 100 pages long give or take 10 pages, 30,000 words. I’m going to do it in four phases; you’re going to pay in advance for each phase.” Generally, you want a termination clause. Mine always say, “Once you pay me, you don’t get the money back and, if we terminate, we both go in our own direction.” Everything that’s about the agreement should be in that statement of work. Anything that’s not in the agreement, whether it was discussed or not, is fiction; it has to be in that agreement. That’s something for all contracts, really. Oral agreements are worth the paper they’re written on.

You go through the statement of work when you get it from the ghostwriter. First of all, if a ghostwriter won’t do it, move on. If the ghostwriter turns in a statement of work or a contract that doesn’t have a termination clause, doesn’t have a payment schedule, doesn’t have how many pages in the book and what the book is about, move on because it should have all of that information. When you have this piece of paper in front of you, you should be able to go, “Yeah, that’s the project that I want and this is how I want it to run.”

Once you have that, you work out any little kinks and, if you’re willing to spend the money and the time, you sign the contract and get moving. Note that it’s difficult for a ghostwriter, actually, any consultant, but a ghostwriter especially, to say, “That book is going to cost 15 grand.” It’s hard to do it from a one-hour interview. So what I do in my projects is I say, “It’s going to cost $5000,” let’s just pull a number out of the air. I say, “We’re going to spend the first quarter of that project doing interviews and writing the first couple of chapters and getting everything that we can established,” so that, when I’m done with that first quarter of the project, we’re going to sit down and I’m going to say, “My estimate was off, it’s actually less,” which has happened, or, “My estimate was off and it’s actually twice as much as I quoted you.” At that point, you’re only in it for a quarter of the money and we could part. You could say, “I’m not going to pay any more. Thank you very much, goodbye.” Or you could say, “That’s fine. I realize this is a bigger project.” Or you could even lessen the project. You can say, “I don’t need to go into all of this. I don’t need to talk about 40 different kinds of IRAs; maybe only three kinds,” and lower it that way.

But the point is nobody in their right mind can figure out what it’s going to cost without doing that analysis and he’s not going to do it from an hour. You’ll always get a price for him, just like any contractor, but you’ve got to make sure that there’s a re-quote in there. That’s for your own protection too because what you don’t want to have happen is the ghostwriter says, “It’s going to be $10,000 to write that book,” and he knows, in his head, after that first couple of weeks, “Damn, this is a $20,000 contact,” and then you get a book that’s not as good as you want. You want to make sure you get the right price, even if it means more. That’s important in any business, really.

Once you sign the contract, generally, a ghostwriter is always going to want a payment up front; that’s pretty standard. That’s because most ghostwriters tend to be just a single person or mom-and-pop and they need money up front to get started. They do what they’re going to do, and that’s why you only pay 25% instead of the whole thing. If the ghostwriter asks for more than 30%, forget it. Pay a percentage up front and that’s it. At the end of that, each phase will be paid up front. So the final phase, you’re actually paying before the book is done and, then he finishes up and gives it to you.

So what doesn’t a ghostwriter do? You’re paying a ghostwriter to write a manuscript. He is not a proofreader; he is not a copy editor, so you’re going to need to send that book to a proofreader and a copy editor. The difference is the proofreader reads it for grammar and a copy editor reads it for content. A ghostwriter is not either one of those things. He’s writing your manuscript and you’re going to have to actually hire another person to do that proofreading or copywriting for you, to make sure that it’s perfect. They’re usually not very expensive, they’re nowhere near as expensive as a ghostwriter, but you have to keep in mind that’s another cost.

Formatting. If the book is on Kindle or on paperback, it’s going to require certain kinds of formatting. If you’re going to publish it in both formats, which, if you’re branding, you typically will because you’re going to want the book right here, so you’re going to want a hardcover, softcover, Kindle, maybe even Barnes & Noble Nook, PDF. Each one of those is different formatting and you ghostwriter probably isn’t expert in that so you might have to hire somebody who can do that.

Marketing. Don’t even go to your ghostwriter for marketing. Whether he says he can do it or not, he can’t. As you know, you’re a marketer, marketing is a specialized thing and it has nothing to do with writing; it has to do with relationships and networking and all of this other stuff. Ghostwriters don’t do that. Don’t expect them to, don’t ask them to, if they offer it, refuse it. It’s not what they do.

You’re going to need a cover, so you’re going to hire a cover artist. Covers are actually not very expensive – you can get one on a site called fiverr.com for 15 bucks, and pretty good covers. This one, actually, $5. It’s just the first stab at it, I thought it was okay. You’re going to need a cover.

You’re going to want an index. Guess what? Ghostwriters don’t do that, so you’re going to have to hire somebody, if it’s a factual book, to put together an index. If you ask the ghostwriter to do it, what he is going to do is he’s going to find every instance of the word. That’s not what you want in an index. What you want is what instances of that word or phrase are important to the reader, and it’s a whole different skill. Because any moron can say, “Word, find me all instances of ‘girl’ and put it in the index,” but you want to find out what’s the important passages of the word girl and put it in the index. Graphics, you’ve got spreadsheets, photos and stuff like that; you’re going to need somebody to do that. Ghostwriters don’t do that.

A ghostwriter is just one part of the whole thing and if you go into a book project without knowing that, you may be a little angry at the end of the project when you’ve got a manuscript and you’re like, “What do I do with it now?” You, obviously, need to do all the other things.

How do, you know, if they’re any good? This is a challenge for ghostwriters in that they are, typically, under nondisclosure. They can’t give you samples of the work they’ve done, they have to be very vague about the work they’ve done. So what do you want to do to find out if a ghostwriter is any good? Demand samples. They should have written something, somewhere, that they can give you, even if it’s an article or a paper or something. They should have books on Amazon, maybe. That’s one of the reasons I’m writing so many books on Amazon on so many different things, is that, when you hire me to write the $25,000 book, which you’re going to hire me for right after this meeting, you’re going to go straight to Amazon and you’re going to see if I can write. You’re going to download some of those books and you’re going to go, “This guy sucks at writing,” or, “This guy is really good.” If they don’t have any books up on Amazon, because it’s not that hard, I wouldn’t look at them in a positive light. They should have something up there. Self-publishing is easy nowadays, anybody can do it. If they don’t have it on Amazon, they should at least be able to send it to you on email.

Sometimes, like me, I’ve got a couple of my clients who will give me references. The client will, at his discretion, tell you more about the product or not. I’ve got a couple of phone numbers that I can give. References are good, but you can’t always get them.

You want to check their works to find if they can write in different styles. If you look at my Amazon books, you’ll find out they’re all on different subjects and, I haven’t written it yet, but there will be a novel, there will be business books, there will be books about all kinds of things and all in different styles. Because, as the ghostwriter, I’m going to write this book as if you wrote it, I’m going to write this book as if you wrote it or you wrote it, and every one of those is going to be different. I have to be able to take your style, not mine. That’s pretty important. You want to see different styles, and if you get five samples and they all read exactly the same, warning signs. That’s not what you want.

Now we’re coming to the part where I bet you all are curious about: What does it cost to create a book? I am making a flat statement here that, if a ghostwriter charges less than $10,000 for a 100-page book, he is an amateur, a newbie, or desperate; avoid them like the plague. Your book should start a $10,000 and not a penny less. If it’s a 40-page book, just that back, it’s generally $100 a page is what you can think. And you go, “Oh my God, that’s expensive,” it’s not. It’s like any other business expense. You’re going to remodel your office, what is it going to cost? If you’re going to buy furniture, what is it going to cost? This is just a cost of doing business, it’s all tax-deductible. Your book is going to start at 10,000 and I won’t even talk to clients for less. I’ll talk to them, but I won’t touch a project for less than 10,000. I was doing projects for thousand when I first started, and then I realized an important fact, which you probably already know if you’re in any kind of business: it’s just as hard to get $1000 as it is to get $20,000, so why on earth would you try to get $1000 contracts? It turns out the $1000 client is going to be a bigger pain to deal with than the $20,000 client because they don’t have the money and they don’t want to pay and all kinds of stuff.

You want to set that limit – you’d want to pay what it’s worth. In any business, you want to pay what it’s worth. I have a friend who said, “I just got this cool tattoo. It cost me 50 bucks,” and I’m thinking, “Yeah, you can tell.” You’re going to be stuck with this book; it brands you. It’s your picture on the cover, it’s your face, it’s your name, it’s your business. Why on earth would you try and find the cheapest person on some cheapie website to do this? You want to get the best possible value you can. You want somebody who’s motivated and you want to pay the right price. Which is why, when I’m looking for a marketing person, I don’t go for the cheapest marketing person; I find the best marketing person and then I make sure the price makes sense. If you came to me and said, “Are you in marketing?” “Yeah. For $5, I’ll market your place everywhere on the Internet,” I’m like, “No.” I don’t know how you make a living at that, but I’m not interested in that, period, end of story. You’re not going to do a good job for $5, give me a break. I don’t know what your rates are, but if I was going to hire you, I would probably expect $50-$70 an hour kind of thing for a marketing person as a minimum to get some stuff done. IRAs, obviously, your stuff is probably real cheap because…

Female: Yeah, tell us about that.

Male: I’m being trained by a guru that he charges $10,000 a month for his clients.

Richard: Exactly. And those clients are happy; they’re getting good value. So this is how you can tell an amateur or a new person from a professional: Are they charging enough? Because, believe me, you don’t want this book outsourced to India. No disrespect to Indians, but you don’t want it outsourced to somebody in another country or somebody who doesn’t know how to write or somebody you don’t know. You want it done right.

A hundred page eBook, which is about 20,000 words, is going to be between $10,000-15,000, and that’s just for the ghostwriting. All of the other stuff will add on top of that. If you’re going to talk more like a 200-page book, which is a novel, you’re talking $25,000-$50,000 for a book. That’s where it should be and that’s what you should demand. You should actually demand that you pay a fair price. That’s my attitude – I want to pay a fair price for the value that I get. I don’t want to go to the cheapest person, the intern in college who doesn’t know what he’s doing, or the person who pretends to be you, who just learned how to do and IRA from the one hour CD course that he took.

That is about all I’ve got to say and I’ll open it up for questions.

Male: How about blogging? Is it good to start with blogging or get a feel for a ghostwriter?

Richard: I am also a blogger and, if you wanted to hire me as a blogger, I could do articles for you. We could also do a blogged book, which means we would do a blog every week and the purpose would be, at the end, to take those, put them together, and have a book. It’s very important to know that up front because it’s very difficult to take a bunch of blogs you’ve written over the last two years and put them in a book if you didn’t actually intend to do that because they tend to go all over the place. But if, you know, it from the beginning, especially if you have a ghostwriter do it, it’ll be very, very good.

Male: And you can get an audience.

Female: For those, do you do it monthly?

Richard: How do I charge?

Female: No, for the contract.

Richard: You’d say, “I want two blog entries a month; one every two weeks. I want it to be 600 to 1000 words long, I want them on some subjects I’ll send you. Go for it.” The charge, maybe by the month or maybe by the article. Those would cost anywhere from $100-200 per. Then, at the end, we have another contract, wrap them all up, put them together in a book, publish it. It works out very well because then you don’t have to write the blog and you’ve got the materials and you’re not paying that big whack all up front; you can pay it over a year or two or three. At the end, you’ve got some readers and you use the blog to sell the book and the book to sell the blog. It’s a strategy. Within two months, you’ll have my book on Amazon called How To Blog To Book.

Female: We pay two different and companies to write on laws, regulations and things like that. They have newsletters, in my marketing now, I just started, but I send them the newsletter so that they can reference those. Is that something how a blog would work?

Richard: Yes. You just say, “I want to blog on,” name a subject.

Female: Mine is on IRAs.

Richard: “I want to blog on this particular technicality within an IRA. If you’re 25 years old, what do you do with an IRA? What’s important about it?” Point me to some articles to read, maybe do a quick interview to get the data from you, then I write the article.

Male: Do you have a list of resources that you use? You mentioned Fiverr, but do you ever use other people, other resources, that you can refer like copywriters, proofreaders?

Richard: I’ve got proofreaders on tap; I use three different ones. A cover artist, copyeditors, whatever I need.

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Additional Information about Ghostwriting

 

Richard Lowe Jr

Richard Lowe Jr

Owner & Senior Writer, Copywriter, Ghostwriter, WordPress Implementation 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 16 books, as well as hundreds of blog articles.
Richard Lowe Jr

@richardlowejr

Author of Focus on LinkedIn, Safe Computing, Surviving Disasters, Help! My Boss is Whacko!, Insider Secrets from a Professional Ghostwriter and many others
Catapult Your #Business to New ... has been published on - https://t.co/zReR0Z0uH0 #thewritingking #AmWritinghttps://t.co/ZYjAViIDfg - 5 hours ago
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Bonnie K. Dillabough
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I think most people don’t really understand the value of a book in establishing credibility in their niche. People are more likely to take your word as fact if you have published a book with your name on it. It doesn’t even matter if they have read the book or if they know anyone else who has read the book. Being an author gives you instant authority. This not only strengthens your position with the visitor of your website, but it so happens that search engines give authors higher rankings, since a book is considered high-quality content. The talk you… Read more »

Kim Steadman
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I personally think that someone that is ‘ghostwriter’ is performing a service that is a gift. It’s not only the gift of writing, but it’s a gift of relinquishing the fame and the “by line” to someone else. I realize it’s a paid service – but still, the words that are in my heart and mind are MY words. Being able to ‘gift’ them to someone else takes a special person!