How to find the perfect ghostwriter for your non-fiction book

March 10, 2016

Many authors have excellent book ideas and great credentials but they don’t have the time or expertise to handle all of the writing themselves. Following a series of interviews and extended discussions, an experienced ghostwriter can write a book to the author’s specifications, capturing the author’s voice and form of expression. To achieve the best result, the author needs to invest a significant amount of time during the interview and book planning process, but the ghostwriter can take on the lion’s share of the work from that point on, presenting drafts for the author to review and approve until the book is complete.

We’ve made many strong ghostwriting matches over the years, and we’re often asked how we go about doing that. After all, a ghostwriting relationship requires a big investment of time and money, so you want to get it right. Here are a few things we keep in mind when we’re in matchmaking mode:

Find the right fit

Personality fit is crucial in a ghostwriting experience. An author and ghostwriter should feel comfortable and relaxed in one another’s presence. They will ideally share a similar sensibility and appreciate one another’s temperament. If the author trusts the ghostwriter and feels confident with the process and the relationship, she’s more likely to feel expansive and creative during the interview and editing process.

Evaluate the ghostwriter’s expertise

A ghostwriter should not only have plenty of professional writing experience; he should also have plenty of experience writing books. There’s a big difference between long-form and short-form work, so you want to make sure you’re hiring someone who understands how to sustain a narrative throughout an entire book and who knows how to organize a book’s structure to ensure it’s balanced and logical. It’s also worth considering a ghostwriter’s subject area expertise. If you’re writing a business book, for example, it’s important that the ghostwriter understand the needs and interests of business book readers and has experience writing for this audience. Each subject area has its own unique conventions and market considerations; be sure your ghostwriter deeply appreciates them.

Clarify your needs and the ghostwriter’s role

It’s critical that an author and ghostwriter have a keen understanding of the requirements of the project and that the roles and responsibilities of each party are clear from the outset. When we help our clients find ghostwriters, we guide them through a discussion about this, and we help them set up a written agreement that is approved and signed by both parties. We encourage them to include important details such as:

  • Schedules and timelines: when should the first draft be complete and how long is the editorial process going to take? How often are the author and the ghostwriter going to meet?
  • Roles of each party: will the ghostwriter be writing from scratch based on verbal interviews or will the author provide written source material as well?
  • Credits: will the ghostwriter receive a credit on the book or will she remain unnamed?
  • The editorial process: what are the ghostwriter’s editorial responsibilities, if any? Will an editor be hired and will the ghostwriter work with the editor on redrafts of the manuscript?
  • Fees and payment: how and when will the ghostwriter get paid?

A good ghostwriting agreement should be carefully thought through and strategically planned. If prepared skilfully, it can set a book up for success and be a productive and enjoyable experience for both parties.

Let us know if we can help you find the perfect writer for your book project.

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