Ghostwriting services or editing needs–I can help you out. Learn the crucial questions to ask before hiring a ghostwriter or editor.
This page will help you determine if a ghostwriter or an editor is needed for your next writing project. You might be thinking of writing a book or you need help on an upcoming guest blog post. Maybe an editor of a major newspaper has asked you to submit an op-ed on your area of expertise. You might be wondering, “Should I hire a ghostwriter?” or “Should I try writing on my own and then hire an editor?”
Let’s work through the process of hiring a ghostwriter first as many of the same questions will apply to hiring an editor, too.
Hire a ghostwriter for your next written piece so you can express yourself in the best way possible (and save time)
People hire ghostwriters mainly to save time but also because they don’t feel as though their writing skills are where they need to be. There’s merit to both arguments–often, people can write pretty well if given enough time but when you’re running a company, a foundation, or just your busy life, finding time to research, outline, draft, and revise, can be hard to do.
Let’s first determine what ghostwriting means to get on the same page
Ghostwriting is when one person fully or mostly writes a piece for someone else. Ghostwriting is normally discussed with regards to books but ghostwriters are hired for speeches, comedy routines, op-eds, newsletters, annual reports, and any important written pieces you can think of. We’ll discuss if (and when) ghostwriters get credit for their writing later in this guide.
How many authors use ghostwriting services for their book?
More authors than you think use ghostwriters to write their book. Think of how busy some of these authors are (especially the ones doing tons of public speaking, trainings, media appearances, etc.)–where do they find the time to write? They don’t. They buy it. That’s essentially what you’re doing when you hire a ghostwriter for your book, speech, or written piece. You are trading your money for their time.
Are ghostwriting services ethical? Is ghostwriting legal?
In most areas outside of academia, ghostwriting is considered ethical and accepted. There are executive speechwriters who write for busy CEOs, college presidents, and politicians. Many books are ghostwritten without any acknowledgment at all to the ghostwriter. Whether or not it’s ethical is up to you and your values. As for legality, consult a lawyer. But the following articles may help out if you questions surrounding plagiarism and legal issues.
Where to find ghostwriting services for a book and other content, and how to hire a ghostwriter:
- Search the internet for ghostwriting agencies–yes, they exist. These are publishing outfits that will take your book through from idea to completion–often with add-on services like book cover design, editing, and research checking.
- Upwork, Fiverr, various freelancer websites: these can be hit or miss as the sites usually demand that you use their interface when working and the sites take a large cut of the freelancer’s take-home pay, which can either lead to inflated rates or a less-than-happy freelancer. Many people start out on these sites and move to their own websites after a few gigs.
- The one exception to the freelancing sites is Reedsy. They screen their freelancers and have an excellent system for any type of publishing help you need for your piece.
- Searching the internet for “ghostwriter+your subject matter” or “writer+your subject matter.” You’ll find a number of authors and ghosts have set up their own sites to take on projects like yours. They might not have the specific expertise you’re looking for if it’s rare, but there’s often something “close enough.”
- Journalists: This group is an underused bunch but who better to discuss your subject matter in an approachable way? Find a journalist that covers your area and see if they’re available. Some might have conflicts but others may be open to the idea.
- Co-authors of books: here’s a secret, the “with author name” on a book is usually the person who did the most writing for it. There’s nothing wrong with it and the first named author usually explains why they partnered with that particular author. Go to Amazon, search the category that your book would most likely appear in (“Business” “Science,” etc.) and see which books have co-authors. Google the co-author’s name and you’ll most likely find their website or contact information.
How to hire a ghostwriter once you’re ready to move forward
You’ll want to ask questions like the following to make sure that the ghostwriter is a good match for you:
- Does the writer have expertise in the field where you’ll be writing?
If you’re writing to a general audience, can the ghostwriter make your thoughts easy to understand for a lay reader? Sometimes, it’s great if the writer has a good general knowledge of the world if just writing to a lay audience–they’ll ask you great questions and give you a perspective that you didn’t have before. Alternatively, if you’re writing to a more expert or advanced audience, can the writer write on that level?
- What are expected turnaround times? How much time will you and the writer commit to this project? Do you have the time to commit to this project?
The writer’s schedule is important but so is yours. You will need to make yourself available for interviews and research questions along the way from the writer. You can’t just dump off an outline and expect a manuscript in three months.
- Other projects and references done by the writer.
This can be tricky–many ghostwriting relationships have an NDA with them. However, many writers take on a variety of projects and can show you the ones that are public and which they have permission to share. Professional writers will almost always have a portfolio to share. If not, and they refuse any type of request for references or written pieces, it’s a red flag.
- If you don’t want to commit to the relationship yet, do a test project.
Find a small project that you pay the writer to do as a tryout. See if their style and approach works with yours. Better to find out early on and pay a small amount rather than pay for a more costly mistake down the line.
How much do book ebook ghostwriters cost? How much do ghostwriters charge?
For books, I mentioned Reedsy earlier and this article lays out the costs quite well. You can also get a free account on their site and see what people are offering as ranges will be offered in their bios.
Cost will depend on the length of the book, the subject matter, and the experience of the ghostwriter. According to the article, you are looking at $20,000 to $30,000 for beginning ghostwriters and $40,000 to $60,000 for more experienced ones. However, in my experience, the best ones start at $75,000 and go up from there. Why? It takes about a year to get most nonfiction books written from beginning to end (and to do it well)–you’re asking the writer to give up a year of their life and that amount is in line with a salary of a professional.
For stuff that isn’t books: The standard rate I’ve seen from a professional writer is around $.80/word to $1.00/word. Sure, you can find cheaper rates but you are sacrificing quality when that happens.
How do ghostwriting services work?
The process with each writer and ghostwriting agency differ but here is my process, which matches up with the typical process:
- Introductory “get to know you” call where we learn about each other, your project, and expected timelines and turnaround times.
- If it’s a match, the ghostwriter and client enter into a ghostwriting contract that should cover the following (protip: get a lawyer that specializes in intellectual property law to draw up the contract, especially one with publishing experience): How credit will be given (usually none)*; deadlines and milestones; revisions; confidentiality;
- A questionnaire and more in-depth follow-up
- The ghostwriter creates an outline and sends it to you, the client–you give feedback. This step depends on the length of the piece and sometimes the initial outline of ideas may have been discussed in a previous step. However, for something like ghostwriting a book, it’s crucial.
- The writer works on creating the first draft–sometimes it’s sent in installments if it’s a larger work (like a nonfiction book) or the entire manuscript is sent at once.
- The client gives feedback on the manuscript and the ghostwriter creates another revision.
- Once the final manuscript is finished, the client may choose to have it professionally edited, which can mean developmental editing (ideas, structure) and copy-editing (sentence-level fixes);
How to Credit a Ghostwriter:
Traditional ghostwriters do not get credit for the work they create. The principal’s name goes onto the work and that’s it. The “credit” is a verbal thank-you and the fee for creating the work. Sometimes you may see someone mentioned in the acknowledgments section that could imply ghosting, “Thanks to Sam Smith for getting this work across the finish line.”
Some “ghosts” are co-authors on a book or article (usually the 2nd name). Obviously, since this relationship is disclosed, it’s not a true “ghost” relationship but the effect is the same–the principal gets a book and shares some credit. Many times, the main author will be up front as to why they chose to have another person help them write their work.
Other services as an alternative to ghostwriting:
Here are some alternatives to hiring a ghostwriter:
Hire an editor: There are many different names for editors, but their functions fall into three main categories:
A. Developmental editing: This editor takes a holistic view of your view and offers critiques based around structure, outlines, support for ideas, narrative flow, character development, etc. Often they aren’t involved in line-editing or copy-editing.
B. Copy and Line Editors: This type of editor will go line by line through your work and offer suggestions on phrasing, style, grammar, and spelling. You should work to deliver a clean draft but this person can help catch mistakes or find ways to better express an idea in a sentence or paragraph.
C. Research editors: This group will help you format citations correctly and determine if what you are citing is really what you’re citing in footnotes and endnotes. The writing process can get messy and a research editor or research assistant can be a huge help in keeping you from accidentally plagiarizing a source.
A reviewer: Similar to a developmental editor but with less involvement. This person will review your piece and offer suggestions and feedback.
A book marketer: Is your problem that you don’t have a good target audience or plan to promote your book? A well-written book will never sell itself. What is your launch strategy? Are you going to dedicate the next 1-2 years to marketing your book? Do you have a plan to do that? Are you going to build your email list and reach out to influencers? Do you have ways to convert buyers into email subscribers? See BookLaunch.com (no affiliate, just smart stuff) for help in this area (or contact me).
An accountability coach: Do you need someone to check in with for your progress? Or a writing partner? I have a writing group that I join each day–no pressure and no judgment–just one hour of writing online. If you want to write the whole book, set up a time to check in with a coach at regular intervals. It will still cost money (think of it like a personal trainer or nutrition coach) but you’ll save the most in the long run.
How I can help you with editing or ghostwriting:
I am available to ghostwrite any of the following:
- Magazine and blog articles
- Annual reports
- Case studies
- Important emails/memos
- Some books: If the match is right between our working styles and your content (nonfiction, business, motivational, how-to) then we can work together.
Speech writing Services: Can you turn my novel, autobiography, or biography, into a speech?
Yes, that is very common! Most keynote speeches start out as a speech and turn into a book or they go the other way if an author wants to promote their work. Starting with the text of the book will give us a head start on creating a phenomenal speech that you can use for your own author marketing.
How would you turn my novel into a keynote speech?
There are a few ways to go about this, but what you speak about will depend on your audience. If you’re speaking to other writers, talk about the writing process for your novel. Your novel also touches on larger themes that can work for keynote speeches–overcoming obstacles, the pursuit of ambition, finding one’s place in the world, developing a self-identity, critiquing a problem with society. We’ll use the big themes of your fiction novel to craft a keynote that you can give to a variety of audiences.