What is Ghostwriting, or What is a Ghostwriter?

Ghostwriting is hiring a writer to help you write something on your behalf: a book, a screenplay, lyrics to a song, a report, a speech, anything. The most commonly ghostwritten projects are books, both fiction and nonfiction, but there is no limit to what they can do. And of course, the ghostwriter’s name usually doesn’t appear on the book cover as the author or co-author. 

Ghostwriting a Bestseller

As I’ve said elsewhere on this site, at least half of the titles on the New York Times bestseller list used a ghostwriter, along with some authors of bestselling fiction, like James Patterson, who employs teams of writers to help him. And when Tom Clancy couldn’t keep up with the demand for his books, his publisher hired ghostwriters to churn out his thrillers in his style. And after he died, he somehow miraculously kept writing books. The secret: ghostwriters. Even celebrity chefs don’t write their own cookbooks; instead, the writer they hire often pens the entire book, composing the menus and recipes without the celebrity chef’s help. Generally, however, the ghostwriter and the person who hired them work together to write the book.

How Does the Ghostwriting Process Work?

Most times, the process is pretty simple. The ghostwriter meets with the subject, gathers information, whether through further interviews or via email communication, and then uses the information gathered to write the book. The ghostwriter can then add, edit, and generally improve the way the material is presented. When you hire a ghostwriter, it is their job to not only sound like you, but to sound like the best you that you can be: more eloquent, and more concise. 

Finding a Good Ghostwriter

Because ghostwriters can come from many walks of life, you can find good ones in more than one place. First, if you are writing a book that requires a specific skill set or knowledge base, you should look for a ghostwriter who has that same knowledge set. For instance, if you want to write a book on exercise, it helps if the person you hire has a background in that field or at least has written about that subject before. Next, because you will likely be working closely with the ghostwriter, you will want to interview them before you hire them—over the phone is fine, in person is ideal—and make sure that they are someone you can talk to, someone you like. It’s a temporary marriage to be sure, but it helps when the ghostwriter is someone you like talking to. And last, but not least, be prepared to pay, but find one that you can afford. Good ghostwriters are not cheap (see my section titled How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter for more information), and though you don’t have to pay top dollar to have your book written for you, you likely won’t find a good ghostwriter for cheap. It’s just not going to happen. The old saying that you get what you pay for holds true for ghostwriters as it does for any kind of service.

Why You Should Hire a Ghostwriter

It is a wise person who hires an expert to do a difficult job. You may be a do-it-yourself type of person (I understand this because I am), but there comes a time when you need to hire the best to get the job done. Writing a book requires time, expertise, patience, and a skillset that not everyone has. When I remodeled my house, I did some of the demolition, but I hired an expert to frame the new walls and install the flooring, etc. Know this, a ghostwritten book will almost always turn out better than one you try to write all on your own. This is due in part because you hired an expert, and it is due in part because you and your ghostwriter work together to produce the best book possible. 

If you can find someone you like, who you can talk to, whose writing you like, and who comes well-recommended, then you should consider hiring them. Please note, that although many people can write, not everyone has the patience and the temperament to be a good ghostwriter.

To find out more about ghostwriting and why you should hire a ghostwriter, please contact me.