Hire a Ghostwriter

My last blog post focused on the value to your business of writing a book. However I realize that writing one is just not practical for many of you. Solution! Hire a ghostwriter.

An experienced ghostwriter can write your book from start to finish or turn whatever you have already written into a polished manuscript. The ghost can also help you flesh out your book concept and develop a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline for the book.

Advantages to Hiring a Ghost

• You will probably end with a better book than if you write it yourself. 

• Your book is more likely to become a reality. A number of business owners have contacted me for help out of frustration because they could not find the time to work on the books they were trying to write. Many of them were good writers with excellent book ideas, but the day-to-day demands of running their businesses mean that they were unable to make much progress on their books.

• You can spend your time focusing on what you do best – running your business. And in your free time, you can truly relax and enjoy your family and friends rather than feeling like you ought to be sitting in front of a computer trying to get some writing done.

Choosing a Ghostwriter

Before you hire a ghost, think about the kind of book you want written. This is important because not all writers are good at the same things. For example, some writers are great at writing how-to books, others are excellent at explaining complicated subjects in ways that everyday people will understand, still others are good at writing with humor, etc. Also, most ghosts focus on writing about specific subjects. For example, some may specialize in ghosting cookbooks or books about parenting, while others may write about topics related to money and investing, legal issues and/or small business. As the adage goes, there are horses for courses and that’s certainly true when it comes to ghosts.

It also goes without saying that the person you hire to write your book should be a good writer with a proven track record, so check out some of the books he or she has already written. Do you like the writer’s style? Is that style right for your book?

Also if possible, contact some of the professionals a writer has written for in the past. Find out about the writer’s strengths and weaknesses; how easy or difficult it was to work with him or her; whether the writer met deadlines; and whether the people you speak with would you hire that same writer again.

Be sure as well to choose a ghost who you feel you will enjoy working with because even though you won’t actually be writing your book, you will still be involved in the process. At the very least for example, the writer will probably want you to provide him or her with information and resources; you will need to be available to answer the writer’s questions; and you will have to provide feedback to the writer after you've reviewed his or her chapter drafts. In other words, you and the ghostwriter will be collaborators to some degree and the success of your collaboration will depend in large part on how well the two of you work together as a team.

Paying a Ghostwriter

The amount of money you pay the writer will depend on a variety of factors:

• How many books the ghost has written already. An experienced will expect to receive more money than one who has not written a lot of books.

• How quickly you want your book written. The faster you need it written, the more the book will cost.

• Whether the ghostwriter is polishing what you have already written or writing a book from scratch. Also, if you are hiring a ghost to polish what you’ve written, the price for doing that will depend on the quality of your manuscript. Warning! If the manuscript is poorly organized and written, editing the document can cost at least as much as writing it from scratch.

• How much research the writer will have to do. For example, will the ghost have to do a lot of interviews?

• Whether you will pay the ghost a share of any advance a publisher may pay you and/or a share of any royalties the book may earn after publication.

Formalizing Your Relationship

If you decide to work with a ghostwriter, protect yourself by formalizing the terms of your relationship in writing. At a minimum, the agreement should spell out:

• The writer’s responsibilities.

• Your responsibilities during the project.

• How much you will pay the ghostwriter and when the payments will be due. Most writers will want some money up-front and typically, the remainder of the money will be paid in installments that are tied to the writer's completion of a certain amount of the book. For example, a ghostwriter may want to be paid upfront one-half his or her total fee,  one-fourth more when the writer has completed half of the manuscript and the final one-fourth when the entire manuscript has been completed.

• How the agreement can be terminated and what will happen when that happens.  

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