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How to Hire a Ghostwriter

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”

Peter F. Druckerte


Ghostwriters work for months on large creative projects, charging thousands of dollars for them. If you're thinking of retaining a ghostwriter to turn your idea into a complete, agent-ready manuscript, this article will give you perspective in choosing the right person to hire.

Who ghostwriters are

Ghostwriters generate content for an individual or a company without taking credit for their work.

However some ghostwriters are credited on books with the author’s permission or at their request. This is not or should not be the aim of any ghostwriter. Our job is to produce the material that we are commissioned to write.

It is not a glorious job but it is a great job, and committed ghostwriters love what they do.

The term ghostwriter is widely applied to those who are contracted to write long creative projects for clients. Self-help books, genre novels [science fiction, romance, etc.], screenplays, memoirs, and political books are common project types where ghostwriters are needed.

While many ghostwriters operate in the large creative manuscript niche market that take months to complete they also provide copywriting services, blogging and technical writing and website content.

What you should do

Define your project goals. When you know what your end goal vision for your project is, you should be able to answer the following questions.

What is your end goal vision for your project?

Who is your target audience?

What do you want this book to do for you?

Do you want to get professional representation for your manuscript and publish traditionally or self publish?

Know where to find ghostwriters

If you scour the web looking for ghostwriters, you'll see them in general market platforms like Upwork and Glassdoor. Firms such as Gotham Ghostwriters or Reedsy retain writers for prospects who come through them looking to hire a ghostwriter. Some ghostwriters have personal websites. The first two of these options really reach a lot of people through inclusive marketing. Because a company represents them, visitors to the site are likely to see their face among the hundreds of faces of ghostwriters they showcase.

While it's not necessary to have a website in order to be a ghostwriter, reading a ghost riders website is the best way to get the information about the individual. One should be able to know within five minutes of reading somebody's website if they are somebody that they would like to hire for their projects.

Look through the different platforms to get a feel for who is out there and what they offer.

On market platforms such as Upwork and Glassdoor, it's possible to find people who are willing to work for $35 an hour, but such people are copy writers and just starting out. Most ghostwriters will command $80-$150 an hour, or 45,000-55,000 for a standard length project of 100,000 words. Ghostwriters who have published for big names or best sellers could run $300 an hour. Ghostwriters operating in this field work with a much smaller clientele base as you can imagine.

For large scale creative projects it's a good idea to go through and established firm who’s stocks first-rate ghostwriters, and ghostwriters who have their own website. You’ll want to work with somebody who invests in themselves. They may be expensive, but are they any good? Let them show you what they can do. If they are very inexpensive, you ought to wonder why. Do you want to trust your beloved idea to somebody on the cheap? People who invest in themselves tend to have weight behind their confidence and produce high quality work. Those are the people you’ll want to work with.

See the blogs people have written, what topics have they covered? How does the website look? What does their content say about them?

Once you have decided the type of person that you want to work with, pitch the top three choices from your search and choose the person who gives you the best answer.

Showcasing individual talent

Ghostwriters who put weight behind the services they provide will have a website. A great website will be original, sharp, and modern. Ghostwriters who have put together a site that looks great—not serviceable—but great—it’s likely that that person’s day job is ghostwriting.

While a website is a gateway to the person it represents, some good ghostwriters have mediocre sites. So how do you find the great ghostwriters among the thousands of average ones?

See their work.

And talk to them.

Ghostwriting is a niche market. A great ghostwriter will promote the services they specialize in. Be it business writing or fiction, the professionals you want to work with do focus on promoting one service one thing really, really well.

Take a ghostwriter working in the niche market of content writing. If content writing is their speciality, this ghostwriter will:

Optimize the content they write for you for SEO to boost your website’s Google ranking.

Promote your brand or message.

Be conscientious writers who shine at entertaining and or educating through the written word.

Be familiar with copywriting and some of them may write excellent branding copy.

A specialty is encapsulated by a preference. It is common for specialists to offer multiple services and active in all of their services but they are niche if they promote the one preference they have.

An experienced ghostwriter works in most genres. You can assess a ghostwriters from their publications, what they're willing to give you upfront, what it's like to communicate with them, and their online output.

Not all good ghostwriters are published.

While those who have published gain credibility, take a look at what they've published and see if you like the quality of that material. Many ghostwriters have self-published books for their clients. Have a look at their content. Is it good? What was the reason for self publishing rather than publishing with a firm?

If they don't show it on their website ask a ghostwriter for sample work.

The method is in the details

Ghostwriters have different ways of working. There is no set process for being a ghostwriter or working with one, but all ghostwriting involves collaboration between the client and the ghostwriter.

Whether you want to work with somebody who spends a lot of time upfront with clients to get all the information they can as they build an outline, or you want to give them your ideas and enough framework of the project for them to work on itt interrupted for weeks or even months before they give you material. The bottom line is that you should hire somebody who is accustomed to working the way that you want to work. All ghostwriters have their own process and many are upfront on their website about what that process is.

Follow the niche

The ghostwriters you’re narrowing it down to should be those who work in their niche market. It is niche to write in all genres. Ghostwriting books of most varieties is niche. Ghostwriters who also copy-write and provide wedding photography is not niche.

Narrow it down to three possible ghostwriters. Be intuitive. You won’t need to read their entire site to get a feel for who they are and how they work.

Have a look at their blog. What do they write about? Are they posting consistent material on a regular basis? Is it relevant to their business? Is it helpful? How long have they been posting?

This is not to say that there shouldn't be ghostwriters writing about things other than ghostwriting, but rather that their ghostwriting posts are succinct, pragmatic, smart, and grouped together to be a resource for information greater than the sum of its parts.

Check out their work samples on their website. Skim their bio and the reviews of what people say of working with them. Are they someone you’d like to meet?

Then conference with them for 30 minutes. A 30 minute conversation will not get you through your project. Such a call should be used to decide whether or not you can and want to work with the person you’re pitching, and for how much?

The thrust of the project should be catalyzed by 1 to 2 meetings that will cover the entire scope of the project, and give the ghost writer the time to generate a detailed outline.

If they’re easy to talk to and you like how they sound professionally, expect dependability, and ask them for a quote.

A ghostwriter working in their niche market is someone who loves what they do. They do it because they believe in the work, and they believe in themselves to make the living that they want doing that one thing.

They don’t worry about the business they’re not going to get. They don’t try to capitalize on everything they know how to do, but rather offer to do one thing, and do it exceptionally well.

The talent stays busy

Extended lead times are common in the ghostwriting market among effective practitioners in the field. You may not be able to get the ghostwriter you want to write your project immediately.

Ghostwriters tend to be busy with their current client’s material. Great ghostwriters can choose the projects they want to take, so if your pitch to them is better than somebody else's, they'll take you, but that might be months from when you want to start, and they may want to be retained on the project to guarantee your project is their priority when they free up.

Let the process take the time that it needs to do it right.

Books cost thousands of dollars to write because they take months and a lot of talent to get the job done well. The finished product is essentially a legacy item, a potential masterpiece, a best seller. So respect the brilliant idea that’s been gestating in your notes for years, and hire the person who is right for the job. They will be easy to talk to, fun to listen to, happy, confident, and sound like the person to realize your dream project. If you're familiar with what's out there can you narrow it down to three people. Follow your gut instinct.


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