What Is Ghostwriting?
The definition of a ghostwriter is a person whose job is to write a book (or other written work like a blog post or business plan) for someone else who is the author named in the written material. In most cases, the ghostwriter writes the book while the author of the work takes all the credit for it.
Ghostwriters are professional writers who write books and articles for other folks in exchange for a flat fee (or a combination of flat fee and percentage of royalties in rare cases). Ghostwriters will often not have their name appear on the work, although some very high profile ghostwriters do get to put their name on the book alongside the author.
Ghostwriting is incredibly common today, especially in the traditional publishing industry. Many famous celebrities, chefs, actors, businesspeople, and even novelists (like James Patterson) hire ghostwriters to write books for them.
How Does Ghostwriting Work?
When you hire a ghostwriter to write a nonfiction book, they will often interview you for 4-6 hours or more about the information you want to put in the book. This same interview process is often used by celebrities writing memoirs and by nonfiction experts who don’t have the time or inclination to write their own book.
Fiction ghostwriting often involves a series of calls or discussions so the author and ghostwriter can get clear on the world, characters, scenes and major plot points before writing begins. Some fiction ghostwriters write the book with little or no instructions or plotting, but we don’t recommend this approach in most cases because results will vary.
Outline with Your Ghostwriter
We highly recommend you have your ghostwriter develop a clear outline for the book, and that you both agree on what should and should not be included in the book before writing begins. The easiest way to make sure you and your ghostwriter are on the same page is to create a detailed outline together.
For a nonfiction book project, that means outlining all the chapters with subheadings and bullet points including the main topics and ideas to be presented in each chapter.
For fiction book projects, you will want to make sure the entire novel is plotted scene-by-scene before writing begins for best results. If you trust your ghostwriter and want them to be as creative as possible, you may simply let them write the novel without a detailed plot outline, but you won’t have any idea how the story will turn out until the book is finished if you take that approach.
Setting Proper Deadlines
Make sure to set a tight deadline if you decide to hire a ghostwriter. Parkinson’s law states that work expands so as to fill the deadline for completion. If you don’t give your ghostwriter a deadline, or if you give them a deadline that’s too big (like 12 or 18 months), you’re likely going to be disappointed in the results.
Professional writers appreciate the importance of deadlines not just for their clients, but also for their own productivity and performance. Ghostwriters who work on a reasonable deadline know they have to keep your project top of mind in order to complete it on time, and this concentrated focus on your project will help them produce better results for you.
Most professional ghostwriters should be able to complete a nonfiction book of 25,000 to 50,000 words or a novel of 40,000 to 80,000 words within 90 to 180 days, assuming you give them all the information and support they need to do their job in a timely manner.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make that will slow down the delivery of a ghostwritten book is to ignore emails or requests for information from your ghostwriter. They may send you a quick email with a single question, and it may not seem important to you, but when a writer is inspired and has all the information they need to move forward, they will be much more productive and efficient.
Withholding information from your ghostwriter will only slow them down, and it could reduce the quality of the final manuscript.
So how much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?
Pricing ranges from the incredibly cheap rates of third-world writers and “content hackers” to the wildly expensive $100,000 charged by the top ghostwriters in the world.
At the end of the day, writing is still very much an art, and that means results will vary drastically from writer to writer, and even from project to project, depending on the ghostwriter.
At Isabella Media, we provide clients with high quality ghostwritten books. Our team of dedicated ghostwriters can produce high-quality nonfiction and fiction books at reasonable rates within 90 to 180 days, depending on the size and scope of your project.