10 Jan 2021

8 Vital Things to Consider Before Hiring a Ghostwriter to Write a Great Book

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Things you need to know before hiring a ghostwriterGhostwriting a book is a huge investment of money and time. More importantly, YOUR name will be on the cover, and you will be known as the author. Spend the time up front, before hiring a ghostwriter, to ensure you find the right ghostwriter for your needs.

Here are some thoughts about things you should consider:

Find the right ghostwriter

Take your time to find the right ghostwriter for your needs. When you find one, interview them at length to determine their specialties, skills, experience and, most important, their personality. The primary questions to answer for yourself:

  • Do they have experience?
  • Is their writing any good?
  • Do they have good references?
  • Do they have a personality that you can work with?

Personality is very important. If the ghostwriter is rude, condescending, arrogant or belittles your topic, find a different one. Hiring a ghostwriter who doesn’t give good answers to most or all of these questions might be a mistake.

Get writing samples

Ask them for samples of their writing, and see if you can get something at least close to your topic. For example, if  you are hiring a ghostwriter to do a memoir, ask for one of those. If you can’t get something relatively close, get what you can and look at it it carefully.

Ghostwriters are often under non-disclosure, meaning they cannot disclose that they wrote a book. However, they should be able to give you something they’ve written and published. Another book or two on Amazon would be great, blog articles, and so on. Get what you can.

Start small

You can ask your ghostwriter if you can start small. Offer to pay them for their work – it’s only fair – but contract for a chapter or two before doing the whole book. Not all ghostwriters will do this, and it shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but this will give you a good idea of easy it will be to work with them.

Always get a contract (statement of work)

Get a contract (sometimes called a Statement of Work). Review it entirely. Make sure it has the following clauses at least:

  • Definition of the work – I like to include an outline of the book.
  • Fixed price or time and materials – Some books can be well defined and done at fixed price. This is pretty normal for ghostwriting. Others cannot be well defined, perhaps because you need to get the help of the ghostwriter to get that definition. Sometimes the book can be fixed priced, but the research and interviews may be time and materials because the amount of work is unknown. Do what makes sense for you and your project, but make sure it’s in writing in your contract.
  • Payment terms – Usually ghostwriters get paid before work starts. Get it split up into payment phases of 25% up front, and then 25% chunks until done. The size of the payments depends on the size of the project.
  • Arbitration – A clause stating arbitration will be used instead of lawsuits is pretty common. This can lower the costs of a lawsuit greatly.
  • Indemnity – Your ghostwriter should include an indemnity clause. This means you will shield them from lawsuits regarding your book. This is only fair, since it’s YOUR book with your words and materials.
  • Termination clause – Ensure you include a clause that you (and your ghostwriter) can back out at any time. The only penalty should be money already paid (ghostwriters do not give refunds as a rule.)
  • Scope changes – This defines what happens when you want to make changes, such as adding a few chapters. Ensure this clause is included, and ensure you are comfortable with it. Generally, your ghostwriter should not “nickle and dime” you for small, trivial changes, and you should not be opposed to additional charges for more work of any significance.

Make sure you have an “out”

As stated in the last point, ensure you can walk away from the project if you want. Your only exposure should be money already paid. You should not accept any penalties for terminating early, and nor should your ghostwriter.

Don’t hire the cheapest ghostwriter

For a 100 page book, you should expect to pay $10,000 or more. While a higher price does not guarantee a good ghostwriter, it is an indication of confidence and experience. You want to get a professional to write your book, and you should expect to pay good rates. Ghostwriters have to make a living, and if they are not charging enough to do so, they either will try to hit you up for more money later, or they are not professionals.

You have the final say

It’s your book and you have the final say as to content. Ensure your ghostwriter doesn’t evaluate the importance or significance of your message. It’s important to you – it should be important to your ghostwriter as well. This is a vital point to consider before hiring a ghostwriter. You want to have a good relationship with them because, after all, you will be working closely them them for several months.

Also, if your ghostwriter obviously doesn’t agree with your message, you should be cautious about giving them the work.

Revise as you go or or one big revision at the end

Some ghostwriters like to do their interviews, then write your book, then give you a draft to review when they are done. Personally, I prefer to give my clients a chapter at a time to review. This way, by the time the book is done most of the reviews have been completed and the book is much closer to publication.

There are arguments for each style, Make sure you talk this over with your ghostwriter and choose the method that makes sense for you and your needs.


Before hiring a ghostwriter

Remember to consider these things before hiring a ghostwriter. Take your time, find the right ghostwriter, and get the best quality book possible.

Also, a final note. Your ghostwriter is a professional, and deserves to be treated with respect and paid a good rate. They should also treat you and the message of your book with respect as well.

Good luck in your search for a great ghostwriter.

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