How to Work Effectively with a Ghostwriter on Your Book

by Jasmin Romero

Hiring a ghostwriter doesn't have to be scary. If you've been wondering how to work with a ghostwriter and all the not-so-spooky details that come with it, then you've come to the right place.

In this post, I'll be filling you in on what a ghostwriter does, what kind of ownership they get, and how you should go about paying them. You'll come to realize hiring a ghostwriter is less trick and all treat.

What Does a Ghostwriter Do?

Ghostwriters are hired to write behind the scenes. A ghostwriter helps shape your story into written words, and then *poof* they're gone. You can think of them as your spirit guide -- a lot less ominous, and at times necessary for growth.

Certain ghostwriters take the ideas and content you've created and mold them into a boo-tiful story. Other writers come up with the ideas for you -- they do all the heavy lifting such as research, interviews, and accurate comma placement (the real scary stuff). It all depends on what your needs are.

Ghostwriters can shape-shift into whatever you need them to be. Has your past life been haunting you in your dreams? There's a ghostwriter to help you write about it. Do you want to keep your grandmothers legacy alive in the form of a cookbook? There's a ghostwriter to organize those recipes for you. Maybe, you just want to write about all the failed dates you've ghosted over quarantine. Well, there's a writer to spark those memories back to life. Ghostwriters adapt their writing skills to fit your voice and vision.

Do We Shake On It?

Finalizing details requires more than just a handshake. Understanding what type of partnership you're looking for is necessary before hiring a ghostwriter.

Copyright law protects all original written work as soon as the creator puts it into tangible form.

Ghostwriting is the exception to this rule if the client contractually states they would like to commission a work-for-hire or share written credit.

There is a difference between co-authorship and ghostwriting. A co-author isn't playing hide-and-seek, they are considered an author of your book and credited as such.

A ghostwriter does not receive any credit for the work they have created unless the client decides to share credit.

A client can choose to share credit in several ways:

  1. A cover credit: this type of credit is less common and would include recognizing the ghostwriter on the front cover.

  2. An acknowledgment: a bit more low-key, this recognition can be hidden anywhere in the book. The ghostwriter still gets published credit for writing the book.

  3. A testimonial: the ghostwriter is almost invisible. A testimonial allows the client to thank the writer for their contribution, which can be helpful for the ghostwriter when looking for future projects to work on. Authors can choose to sign with their initials to keep anonymity.

  4. Back-end revenue: annnd they're gone, no trace of the ghostwriter. This incentive allows the ghostwriter to receive a percentage of the profit or royalties the book receives. The author keeps all the credit, and the ghostwriter receives bonus pay. A win-win situation.

So now that you've figured out what type of partnership you want -- it's time to write the contract and talk numbers.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

Choosing the perfect ghostwriter is in fact comparable to choosing the right pair of shoes. You have to ask yourself what you need them for, how long you want them to last, and if you care about the craftsmanship. There are no "set-rates" for ghostwriting services, but there are a few questions you can ask yourself when thinking about cost:

  • What will the ghostwriter be doing for you? If a ghostwriter is shape-shifting into several different roles, the cost will be higher. The cost also varies depending on what kind of book you want written. Do you need the ghostwriter to do interviews, research content, and create an overarching theme or do you have everything prepared so all they have to do is write? These are factors to take into consideration.

  • How long is the project? Some clients only need a ghostwriter for a chapter of the book, or for certain pages. Most clients want to have a ghostwriter help them with the entire book. In that case, clients should have an idea of how long they want their book to be. The more time-consuming your project is, the less time ghostwriters will have to guide others with their stories. Hence, their rate will be higher.

  • How much experience does the writer have? Experience can mean anything from the level of education and training they've received to the number of years the ghostwriter has spent on their craft. How well can they shapeshift and disappear into the shadows? The more experience, the more expensiv