5 Things to Know About Working with a Ghostwriter

5 Things to Know About Working with a Ghost Author
By E. Danielle Butler for New Shelves

Some authors have fantastic stories, but not a writing bone in their bodies. Then there are those authors with all of the expertise and not a minute to spare for sitting down to eat, let alone to write a book. When these authors come to the realization that their stories cannot be contained or the message needs to reach their audience sooner than their dreams of writing into the retirement sunset can come to fruition, they seek the help of ghost authors. A ghost author, or ghostwriter, is someone who writes a piece of content, but their name does not appear as the author. Instead, the person who hires them takes credit for the work. Sound too good to be true? Not really, these fairy godparents have been doing word magic in the shadows for centuries. For the last decade, I’ve been one of them. That’s why I’m here today,  to share a few key things you should know about working with one of us.

1. Communication Is Key

One of the most important aspects of working with a ghostwriter is establishing clear communication from the beginning. You should have open and honest discussions about your expectations, goals, and timelines, and be prepared to provide detailed feedback throughout the writing process. The writing partnership will require effective communication from both parties. Sometimes the communication during the writing journey takes creativity (formal meetings, emails, voice memos, shared documents, etc.). Find what works, and work it.

2. Confidentiality Is Essential

When you hire a ghost author, you are entrusting them with your ideas and your reputation. It's important to work with a ghost author who understands the need for discretion and is committed to maintaining confidentiality. Most ghostwriters have no problem signing a Nondisclosure Agreement (NDA). Some even go as far as to include NDAs in their contracts.

3. Quality Comes at a Price

While there are many freelance writers available online, not all of them are equal in terms of skill and experience. The cost of hiring a ghostwriter also varies depending on the type and length of the content. Generally, a professional ghostwriter may charge anywhere from $0.10 to $1.00 per word or more, depending on the project's complexity, research requirements, and timeline. For example, a short blog post may cost $50 to $200, while a full-length book could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ghost authors with a specific niche or industry background may have a higher price for their services than a writing generalist. Simply put, if you want to produce a high-quality piece of writing, be prepared to pay a fair price for the services of a professional ghostwriter.

4. The Process Takes Time

Writing a book or other substantial piece of content is a significant undertaking, and it's important to be patient with the process. Allow yourself plenty of time for revisions and edits, and be prepared to work closely with your ghost author to refine your ideas and ensure that the final product meets your expectations. Much of the heavy time commitments occur at the onset of a project. During this period, ghost authors take the time to learn your voice, and may request a few rounds of feedback before diving into the full project. A thorough intake period saves time during the revision phase.

5. You Still Have Final Say

While your ghostwriter will do the majority of the writing, you are still ultimately responsible for the content that is produced. Make sure that you are actively involved in the writing process and that you review and approve all final drafts before they are published or submitted. Although there are some successful authors who think differently (ahem, Rick Ross) about the collaborative writing process – When asked if the book was how it all went down, Ross was honest, “I don’t know. I haven’t read it.” You haven’t read your memoir? “I didn’t think it was necessary. I lived it. I’ll watch the film.” So that meant the heavy lifting was done by co-writer Neil Martinez-Belkin –  I want you to read your book and be pleased with it before it reaches your readers.

Final Thoughts

It’s my hope that these tips will help you approach your ghost authorship journey with confidence.  Every ghostwriting project and relationship is different. The ultimate key to success is finding a writing partner who can deliver on your expectations with an authentic voice. More specifically, your authentic voice. It all sounds very Cinderella and glass slipper if you ask me. But because I’ve been a part of a perfect fit more than once, I know that you too will find yours. Cheers, there’s more to the story!


The outlets below offer additional information on ghostwriting rates.

E. Danielle Butler is an author and ghostwriter who believes in the power of words and the magic of imagination. Her work has supported the stories of CEOs, community leaders, entertainers, clergy, and other public figures. She shares musings on the ghostwriting experience on her blog at www.EDanielleButler.com.

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