There are lots of people in this world who want to hire a ghostwriter.
Maybe they don’t have the ability to write a book themselves.
Maybe they don’t have the time.
Or, maybe, they just need guidance from someone who can help them make their story a real page-turner.
No matter the reason, if you want to hire a ghostwriter for your book, there are some things you should understand and keep in mind as you move forward…
1) Hire a Ghostwriter, The RIGHT One
Finding the right writer is So. Darn. Important.
Several years ago I went with my husband to his tax accountant so we could file our joint taxes for the first time. (Newlyweds. You know.) After we left the office I looked at Mark and said, “We have to find a new tax accountant. That man is so dry. He lacks personality and he doesn’t care about us. All he cares about is his paycheck at the end of the week. We need to work with someone who thinks like we do and has a personality.”
Mark agreed and admitted he only stayed with Dry Guy because he didn’t want to take the time to find someone better. Plus he got free pens.
ALWAYS take the time to find someone better.
And by better, I mean:
– someone you like.
– someone you trust.
– someone you can laugh with and cry with and swap pictures of your dogs, kids, or food.
– someone who will listen.
– someone who will go the extra mile.
Find someone LIKE YOU.
It will make a massive difference in how your book is written. When we finally found a new accountant, not only did we swap #littledog stories (which is irrelevant but fun), but she found ways for me to save in my business that Dry Guy didn’t bother with.
Yeah. Find someone like YOU.
2) You’re Part of the Process
When you hire a ghostwriter to write a book for you, you still need to be active in a handful of conversations/interviews. That’s usually in the beginning. When those are done, you can sit back and let the ghostwriter do their thang.
Let’s say you’ve got a book on your mind that you’ve been itchin’ to get out. Maybe it’s about your rise to entrepreneurship and battling the demons that held you back along the way. You’ve got lots of tips to offer, but you likely have lots of stories to go with those tips, too.
Those stories are just as valuable, if not more, as your “5 Steps To Starting Your Creative Business.”
When you look to hire a ghostwriter, a good ghostwriter will listen to those stories and ask all the right questions so that your pages are on fire. Great storytelling is what keeps people turning pages.
Mediocre storytelling is what forces them to put your book back on the shelf.
When I start a book with someone, I may interview them anywhere between 10 – 15 times. The calls don’t last long, maybe 45 minutes. Anything more than that and we’ll be worn out. I record the call, log all of the information, and begin organizing the content before our next call.
3) Understand Payment Terms and Contracts
I love you. I don’t know you but I love you. Therefore, I beg of you not to hire a ghostwriter and hand them money without having signed an iron-clad contract that you understand.
The contract is put in place to protect you. It is to protect the writer, too. A strong, professional, seasoned ghostwriter will certainly have one and will explain the terms to you before you sign. If you feel uncomfortable with it in any way, ask for clarification. Contracts are drawn up by lawyers, and sometimes it’s hard to understand all of the legalese.
Another thought when it comes to payment:
Sometimes people think that ghostwriters write for royalties only. They don’t. They just don’t. If you find a writer willing to do this, I can promise you one thing…
No, two things…
1) It will not be written in a timely manner, if at all…
2) It will not be written
Now, big time ghostwriters who write for political figures or celebrities get a flat fee and royalties. But traditional ghostwriters like me get paid a flat fee. That fee is often broken up into payments that are due at different times throughout the process. If you love your writer enough and you want to pay them a flat fee and royalties, fantastic! But if you think you can ask someone to write 60,000 words for you without paying them a dime, it’s not gonna happen.
If you’re wondering why seasoned ghostwriters don’t write for royalties, I wrote a post that delves into it.
Anywhooo….make sure you read the contract, understand the terms, and ask questions. Be prepared to pay a deposit before the process begins. The deposit holds your space and allows the writer to keep you in his or her editorial calendar for the next six months.
4) Writing a Book Takes Time
So about that six months….
Next to books and blog posts, I write screenplays and original pilot scripts, too. I’m an indie filmmaker and writer who loves to tell a story. And I can safely say, whether it’s a book or a script, it takes a long time to do it right.
Having said that, if you talk to someone who says, “Yeah, I can write it for you in less than five weeks,” please run away.
Can they have words down on paper in five weeks? Sure. But the content will not be organized, clean, clearly thought out, or gripping. It will likely be a hodge-podge of words or a nonsensical stream of consciousness. Every page I write starts with a “grabber” at the top. And every chapter I close encourages the reader to turn the page. In between these grabbers and cliffhangers is organized, intriguing information.
That’s how it should be. Always.
Even if your book is a how-to or leadership book, you need to keep the reader engaged at every turn.
If someone tells you that they can whip out a book or script in two to four weeks, trust that you’ll end up paying someone else to rewrite it.
Phenomenal writing takes time.
And the real writing always happens in the rewrite.
For a 250 page book, I typically draft a contract for six months. That gives both you and I plenty of time to find the story, build on high concepts, determine side stories that will drive the bigger picture, and find the primary focus of the entire book.
Good things take time. Allow it.
5) Ask Questions When You Hire a Ghostwriter
This seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at the number of people who make assumptions instead of asking questions.
I recently wrote a book for the CEO of a coaching company. When I was done with the first three chapters, I sent him an email that said, “The first part of your book is ready. Review it in its entirety and make any changes you deem necessary. Send me an email when you’re done. Per our agreement, you have ten business days to review the pages. Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.”
And then he fell off the face of the earth.
I could NOT get this guy on the phone for the life of me. For two weeks he ghosted me. So what did I do? I called him from a different phone number. He finally answered.
I told him I was looking forward to his edits but needed to hear from to see if he wanted any changes so I could move forward. To which he said, “I had no idea you wanted me to do edits. I hired you to write the book. Now you’re asking me to do it?”
For the record, I make it very clear both on the phone and in the contract that the author needs to read what I wrote and either approve it or ask for changes. I even go through how the process works in a Google doc. How this information was missed, I still don’t know.
If you’re ever unclear on anything during the process, ask your writer. Drop him or her an email or pick up the phone. This is your baby. You want it to be perfect. You also want to understand how your baby coos and giggles when someone else is holding it. Don’t ignore your baby. It will starve.
As far as the CEO, he admitted that he was unclear about next steps and chose to ignore the process instead of asking me for clarity. Lucky for him I’m patient and persistent. We reviewed the process and he dove in. His book is now a best seller on Amazon.
Now that I’ve talked about how to hire a ghostwriter for your book, is there anything I missed? Any questions you have for me? Spit ’em out in the comments. I’m happy to help.
Joleene Moody is a ghostwriter, screenwriter, and actor, based in Central New York.
Learn more at www.joleenemoody.com