Common questions about ghostwriting and ghostwriters

Common questions about ghostwriters and ghostwriting

In this post, I want to address common questions about ghostwriting such as, “What exactly does a ghostwriter do?” “Do ghost writers get paid?” and “How long does it take to ghostwrite to write a book?” among others. Read on to find out more . . .

What exactly does a ghostwriter do?

Ghostwriters help their client/authors write a book, whether that book is non-fiction, as in a memoir, a self-help book, or a non-fiction title covering any of a variety of subject. Ghostwriters can also help fiction writers hone, refine, and write their novels and screenplays.

Generally, ghostwriters work with their client/authors to uncover what they want to say in their book. They conduct interviews and collaborate with their client/authors to produce and write their book.

Do ghost writers get paid?

Yes, ghostwriters do get paid, and in most cases, they are paid for their work before the book they help write is published or sells copies. In fact, most ghostwriters are not paid from the royalties of a published book, though some celebrity ghostwriters may participate in a portion of the book’s sale in addition to being paid their regular fee, which can be $100,000 or more, even up to $1 million (as in the case of Prince Harry’s ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer).

How long does it take to ghostwrite to write a book?

Like many things, the answer to this depends on a few factors: the type of book, the length of the book, and the availability of the client to work with their ghostwriter. Generally, ghostwritten books take anywhere between six and eight months to write, though your mileage may vary, as the saying goes.

Are ghost writers worth it?

Being a ghostwriter, I would say yes. But hiring a ghostwriter is worth it especially if you have a book you want to write but lack the time or the will to work on it by yourself. Most books on the nonfiction bestseller list, especially celebrity memoirs, were written with the help of a ghostwriter. Two recent examples include Prince Harry’s memoir Spare, and Brittney Spear’s Memoir, The Woman in Me, both of which set sales records when they were first published.

How can you tell if a book is ghostwritten?

While there is no one way to tell if a book has been ghostwritten, there are a few instances where it’s obvious that someone not the named author wrote the book. Here are three instances.

Co-authorship. With some books authored by celebrities, they often list a co-author’s name in smaller type under their own. In these cases, that person is almost always their ghostwriter.

Generic content. If someone has written a book on leadership, for example, and it’s missing a personal touch and feel—as in there are no stories about the author in the book—and the content does not sound like the author (if you know them), then there’s a good chance that the book was farmed out to a ghostwriter who had little to no contact with the author other than a few cursory meetings and a general directive to write something good. This kind of ghostwritten book is actually fairly rare because most ghostwriters (at least the ones that I know) collaborate heavily with their authors so that the content in the book reflects the author’s experiences, thoughts, feelings, and voice.

Publishing from beyond the grave. If a bestselling fiction author has died but somehow still seems to be putting out books, then you can guarantee that the output is ghostwritten. Tom Clancy put out several books after he died. Now, some of those titles may have been based on notes or ideas that he generated while he as alive, but the bulk of the book was put together by a ghostwriter (or ghostwriters) after he passed.

Usually, if a ghostwriter has done their job well, you won’t know that a title has been ghostwritten because it will use the author’s stories, will sound like the author, and will contain the author’s thoughts and ideas.

Do ghost writers get royalties?

Ghostwriters usually do not get royalties from traditionally-published books that they help write, but it can happen. Even in those cases, the ghostwriter was still paid their fee, and the royalties were added as a bonus, not the main source of payment for their services.

Can a ghostwriter steal your story?

No. Because they are in the business of helping people tell their story, ghostwriters are heavily dis-incentivized from stealing a client’s story. Given that ghostwriters rely on others to trust them with their story, stealing their client’s story, whether it be a story from the client’s life or a fictional idea of the client’s, would be business suicide for the ghostwriter. Asking this question shows that the person understands nothing about ghostwriting or ghostwriters.

Who owns copyright on a ghostwritten book?

In all cases the named author owns the copyright on a book that has been ghostwritten. In a few cases, the named author may opt to share some of the royalties from sales of their book, but ghostwriters never hold any copyright to whatever they work on. Instead, they work for hire.

Have more questions or want to find out what it might be like to work with an actual ghostwriter? Fill in the form below!:

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