What does a ghostwriter do? Do I need a ghostwriter?

These are questions I get all the time. 

Before I answer them, let me first explain what Ghostwriting is:
Ghostwriting is a process where an unnamed writer (in this case, me) pens a book for someone else who is the named author. (In this case,  you). I write your pages but remain anonymous. When the book is done, your name goes on the cover.

Now that you know the basics, let’s dive into answering your questions.


1) What Does a Ghostwriter Do?

stages of freelance writingI’ve been writing content for other people for nearly 15 years. I started as a magazine journalist and then worked my way up to ghostwriting books for other people. They saw that I was a writer and simply asked me, “Can you write my book for me?”

Yes, yes I can.

Their next question is, “What does a ghostwriter do?” The answer is simple, but the process is not. Basically, a ghostwriter tells your story for you. I do this by conducting a series of interviews (between 10 – 20) so that I can capture:
– your voice
– your story
– your essence.

I then sit down and log every. single. interview. I go through it and record facts, key phrases, and determine the cadence of your voice.

Putting words on paper is one thing. Gathering all of the facts and putting them down in story form is another. It is the job of the ghostwriter to ask questions, organize, highlight key points, and create an outline that will inevitably turn into a page-turner. That’s what you want. A page-turner. You want a book that people will be hungry for.


2) Do I need a Ghostwriter?

If you don’t have time to write or are unsure of how to write books, blog posts, or any other marketing content, then yes, you need a ghostwriter. When people ask me, “Do I need a ghostwriter?” I ask them in return, “What is it that you want to write?”

Most of the time, it’s a story that they simply must get out of their system.
Also, it might be a series of blog posts to help their website rank in Google.

If you want to write a book or blog post but don’t know how you need a ghostwriter.
If you want to write a book or blog post but don’t know where to begin or how to structure it, you need a ghostwriter.
If you want to write a book or blog post but don’t have the time, you need a ghostwriter.


3) Is it Wrong to Hire a Ghostwriter?

Absolutely not.

Is it wrong when someone else builds your website? Fixes your car? Colors your hair? Is it wrong to hire a dog walker or contractor?

These are things you can probably figure out and do yourself, but why would you? You’re very busy. Thousands of well-known authors, celebrities, and entrepreneurs have ghostwriters pen their books every day. It’s very common and widely accepted.


4) How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

When I write a book for someone, it can take upwards of 300 hours to interview, outline, research, and write your manuscript. I often six to eight months completing it. This depends on the length and subject of your book, of course. Having someone write your book for you can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $30,000 dollars. 

At first blush, this seems like a heck of a lot of money. And it is. But building a book that engages the reader and encourages others to buy it requires that the writer make it engaging. The first pages of your book need to grab the reader right away. And the end of every chapter needs to encourage them to turn to the next.

Those who are inexperienced in writing often write what is known as a “stream of consciousness.” This is healthy and often necessary. But to make your story compelling, that stream of consciousness needs direction. It needs “cliffhangers.” Even with business books or how-to books, you need to keep your reader engaged.


5) How Do I Begin With a Ghostwriter?

Do your homework and seek out a few that appeal to you. Set up a call with them. When you find one that you feel comfortable with, he or she will ask for a deposit and set up a time for your first interview.

For me, this is what I do. I determine if the book is something I have a great interest in. The last thing you want is someone writing your book who isn’t even remotely interested in the content. If the author and I “click,” it’s a great sign. I’m going to be working with this person for the next several months, so we need to get along.

Next, I collect a deposit to begin the process. For me, It’s a quarter of the entire project cost. I split my process into four phases. Once I complete the first phase, I pass it along to you for your review. If you want any changes, you let me know. I make the changes, and then pass the completed portion onto an editor. He or she checks for spelling, grammar, and consistency.

Then I collect the next payment and start the second phase.

The first phase consists of a series of interviews. This is where we really get to know each other. This allows me to really nail your voice, your story, and your purpose with the book.


If there is a book in you, let it out. Whether you write it yourself or hire someone to write it, telling your story releases so many emotions that get locked up inside of you. I see this with the creative entrepreneurs I write for all the time. Even in “business” books, pieces of our lives emerge. It is these pieces that others resonate with.

Tell your story. The world is waiting.

Joleene Moody is a ghostwriter, screenwriter, & actor based in Syracuse, New York. Learn more at www.joleenemoody.com.