Good ghostwriters write your book for you, great ghostwriters write a book you never could have written on your own. If you want to elevate your stories without spending years honing your own writing craft, working with a ghostwriter (GW) may be right for you. I don’t just write my clients books for them, I enhance their stories and help them connect more deeply with readers.
There are a ton of reasons to publish a book, whether you’re wanting enhanced branding or more authority. And a great ghostwriter can help you ensure that your book project gets you where you need to go. But what’s the difference between a good ghostwritten book and a great one? And how can you know whether you’ve found a great ghostwriter for your project? Let’s talk about how a great ghostwriter enhances your book, and what to look for when hiring one.
Key Elements of the Ghostwriter’s Role
- Interviewer. Your ghostwriter should bring narrative expertise and writing skill to your book project. But perhaps even more important is how your GW gathers the information they need to write your book. Some GWs use questionnaires, but I’ve found that interviews help me harvest more narrative information that I use to flesh out our projects.
- Tone Builder. Most of my clients aren’t writers. I don’t have pages of their writing to thumb through to gather their voicing. What I’m really doing in most cases is building my client’s voice as I write based on their phrasing in interviews and writing feedback. This helps me communicate with your audience in your authentic voice and tone.
- Structuring. If you’re like most of my clients, you’re not clear on how your book should be structured for readers, and that’s okay. Great GWs have a keen eye for narrative flow, pacing, and creating captivating chapters that keep readers hooked from start to finish. By providing a well-crafted structure, I transform your raw material into a cohesive and engaging narrative.
- Collaborator. Ghostwriting is a collaborative process that requires open and honest communication. Your input and feedback are crucial to the success of the project, and I love getting feedback from clients. A skilled ghostwriter will actively seek your guidance, allowing you to shape the direction of the book and ensuring that your vision is realized.
- Confidant. As an NDA-protected GW, confidentiality is essential for many of my clients. Discretion is essential to the industry, and I treat every story with the utmost respect. Professional ghostwriters prioritize professionalism and ethical standards to ensure a trustworthy collaboration.
- Publishing Guide. Many great GWs go beyond the manuscript to offer continuing consulting for their author clients. If this is your first time being published, you’ve probably got a ton of questions about the process, and you might not be sure which publishing route to take.
An excellent GW offers insight into structure, narrative flow, publishing, tone, and more. And working with one can help you ensure your book is high-quality and valuable for your readers. Plus, a great ghostwriter can save you a ton of time and effort on your manuscript. For example, I estimate most projects take around 4-6 months (compared to several years when clients write their own).
How that you’re clear on the role and benefits of a great GW, how can you pick one that’s a good fit for you? What should you look for when you’re evaluating a GW you’ve never worked with before? Let’s talk about finding the right ghostwriter for you.
Signs of a Good Match: Finding the Right Ghostwriter
Most GWs start their partnerships with a Discovery Call or Consult Call. These typically last about 30 minutes for me, and it’s a chance for me to get to know a client’s goals for their book. If you’re interested in hiring a GW, look out for these key traits during your first calls with them:
The partnership between a GW and an author is often intimate and long-lasting. You don’t want to go through this process with someone who isn’t easy to get along and collaborate with. Notice how the vibes are on your first call or two; does it feel like you’re well-matched? If a client is serious about a project, I’m happy to get on more than one call to make sure we’re a good fit.
When it comes to collaboration, it’s my job to give expert opinions on style, structure, and of course the writing process. And I love getting feedback from clients because often it makes my writing more precise and accurate. But what happens if our opinions differ? Ultimately, my belief is that it’s up to you to make the final call, because it’s your name on the thing. You may want to ask your GW how they’d describe their collaborative process.
Communication and Organization
Great communication is essential to the ghostwriting process. It’s your ideas and stories that I’m writing about, so I need as much information as I can get to create a compelling book for your readers. A great GW will have a system for communication that maximizes your time, and doesn’t require a ton of extra back-and-forth. Ask about their systems on your discovery call to make sure they’re experienced and efficient.
For example, once I have an outline settled with a client, I create a calendar for our meetings so that we’re each prepared coming into each interview. I also record every interview so that I can actively listen without taking notes, and I can reference back to our conversation when questions arise. Having a GW who is organized and communicates effectively helps you have a seamless book-building process.
Experience and Expertise
If you’re writing for a specific field or niche, such as fellow clinicians or patients, you may want to hire a ghostwriter with a relevant background. For example, my nursing background makes it easier for me to communicate on behalf of my clinician clients, because I understand the industry pain points and medical terminology.
If your book is covering a technical niche, it may be a good idea to seek out a ghostwriter who has already written in that specialty. Ask about what topics they’ve written about in the past, and whether they’d be comfortable covering your industry or specialty. Not every GW has a specialty, and that’s okay! Many writers learn about an industry as they go.
Portfolio and Samples
Ghostwriters can be hard to vet because many work behind strict NDA’s. My own Non-Disclosure Agreement means that I can’t mention my client’s names or book titles, and I certainly can’t hand them off as sample pieces. But every GW should have sample pieces, whether they’re articles, essays, or other forms of writing. Request sample pieces on your discovery call to see examples of a GWs previous writing.
Professional GW rates start around $25k, and a written agreement or contract to outline your payment plan and project details is essential. Get clear on any contracts, payment timelines, or other processes you’ll need to adhere to during your call.
For example, I require a first payment of four upon the beginning of every project, and this is when my clients and I sign the contract for work. Your GW should outline a clear plan for moving forward, which shows you that they’ve done this before.
If your GW has these qualities, you’ll likely have a great experience with them at the helm of your book.
Great Ghostwriting is Closer Than You Think. . .
If you’ve read this whole blog, thanks for doing your due diligence to learn about the key skills and qualities of a great GW. Now that you know what to look for, you’re ready to start talking to a GW about your project. If you want to schedule a discovery call with me, use this link to get started.