What to Expect When Hiring a Ghostwriter
What to Expect When Hiring a Ghostwriter
That’s because I am one of those writers. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books—almost all for other people. Sometimes I’m credited on a piece and sometimes I’m not; clients choose what works best for them. When you see a book “written by John Adams with Grace Allan,” for example, chances are Grace wrote most of the book but John was a close collaborator.
Ghostwriting is a fantastic option for people who have valuable ideas to share but lack the time, energy, or skill to put them into written form. Working with a ghost can have benefits beyond the final content, too. Many ghostwriting clients find that the interview process helps them develop clarity about their methods, business, and brand. Explaining their ideas to someone else forces them to articulate and clarify—something these busy professionals often don’t take the time to slow down and do. Often, powerful written content (like an article or a book) feels like a bonus.
It’s Absolutely Authentic
Here’s the thing: ghostwriting is far from inauthentic. The process of ghostwriting a book typically involves deep engagement by the named author. While, yes, someone else sits down and “does the work” of putting words on the page, the process requires a high level of intellectual involvement from both parties.
When I ghostwrite a book, I strive to embody my client’s voice. I pore over hundreds of pages of interview transcripts, looking for patterns. I piece together ideas. I build on my client’s genius. Although I write the initial words, we are very much co-creators. This is reflected in the fact that most ghostwriting clients leave the process feeling like they wrote the book—only they typically save more than 300 hours of time in the actual writing process.
Why Become a Ghostwriter + How Much Do Ghostwriters Make?
The biggest reason is that ghostwriting jobs are more lucrative than other jobs like I provide – blog writing. You can grow your freelance writing business or take the next level by going this route.
Another reason why you might want to be a ghostwriter is that once you’re done with the work (and the client likes it), that’s it. There is no need to promote your client piece on social media.
And another big reason to start ghostwriting is that there will be less research overall. Your client has to supply you with the research material. So, you save the time from doing all that research yourself!
Finally, being a ghostwriter can help you and your freelance writing business in many ways. You get to learn how to communicate with clients better and help them open up you. Your writing also becomes better over time since you have to learn how to write in other people’s voice effectively.
Get Comfortable Writing Big Projects
The most lucrative ghostwriter is one that ghostwrites books. Doctors, financial advisors or attorneys hire ghostwriters to write their books or memoirs. Kelly James-Enger is a profitable ghost writer, and she says,
In the last couple of years, my ghosting projects have paid:
$20,000 for a 60,000-word health book
$15,000 for a 40,000-word business book
$12,000 for a 55,000-word memoir (The book had been written but needed reworking.)
$25,000 for an 80,000-word nutrition/fitness book of which my client wrote about one-third of the manuscript and I wrote the rest
These numbers may not be huge, but remember that I’m being paid to write the book, not promote it as well. Once it’s completed, which typically takes four to six months, I’m done. I can ghostwrite two or three books a year in addition to writing my own books and articles, which makes for a comfortable income.
Writing books is a separate skill than writing blog posts or articles. Personally, I’ve only taken one book project, but it was only 10k words. I have a harder time writing more than that.
Why do we need ghostwriters?
Perhaps the most common example of this comes in the form of celebrity autobiographies. While a celebrity may be extremely talented in their own line of work, be it acting, dancing, or singing, they’re not necessarily born writers and may find it a challenge putting their thoughts onto paper. They may turn to the aid of a professional writer to tell their story, while still keeping their own name on the book cover for marketing and publishing purposes. A skilled ghostwriter will be able to adapt their voice to whoever they are writing for, as well as know how to write what sells.
Another reason is time. Imagine, for example, that you’re the busy CEO of a company or even a politician. With such a packed agenda, it’s unlikely you’ll have the time to write all your own material such as speeches, press releases, or other official correspondence, so you may hire a person or team of people to do it for you.
Believe it or not, even authors hire ghostwriters. This may be because they have a great idea, but need help developing the plot because they are still relatively inexperienced writers themselves, or due to time restrictions. Ghostwriters are often skilled and talented authors in their own right, so will be able to give valuable input and expert opinion as well as bring the discipline needed for such a large-scale project.
Are you interested in becoming a ghostwriter?
If you are a talented writer and thinking about becoming a ghostwriter, here are some useful points you may want to consider before deciding if it’s the right profession for you:
Taking credit for your work
While some patrons are happy to mention their collaboration with another writer, you must be prepared to accept that you will not be able to take the credit for most – if not all – of your work, no matter how many hours you have spent on it or how proud you are of the outcome.
Finding your area
As writing is such a varied discipline, it is unlikely you will be skilled in every single field, so narrowing it down to the areas you have experience in is a key consideration. For example, if you’re not a published author yourself, it’s unlikely that you will be commissioned to ghostwrite a novel. Instead, choose an area where you already have plenty of examples to build an impressive portfolio and reach out to network with potential clients.
As a general rule, the more experience you have, the more money you are likely to make, especially if you have worked on some high-profile pieces. But no matter how big or small your commission, you should always do your research to find out how much you should be charging as well as make sure that there is some kind of written contract in place specifying what you are expected to deliver and how much you will be paid for it. (Remember: you are not getting any credit for this work, so there must be a financial reward.)
Any freelance creative is expected to meet their client’s expectations in terms of timing and quality, and ghostwriting is no different. You will be hired because you have the skill and expertise in a given area, but do you have the self-discipline and stamina to stick to an agreed timeline and meet your deadlines? Bear in mind that some projects, such as a novel, may take years to complete.
A business mindset
To be a successful ghostwriter, you need to think and act with a business mindset. This means dedicating time to building a network of contacts who will help you get your next gig, researching the kind of prices you should be charging, managing project timelines, and marketing yourself and your skills in the right way to the right people.
If you are interested in pursuing a career as a ghostwriter, it takes time and effort to perfect your craft, establish yourself in the field and gain a reputation in the world of ghostwriting, but there are lucrative projects out there and opportunities to make a successful career in the field if you are ready for the challenge.