How Does Ghostwriting Work? 20 Steps for an Incredible Book

In the vast realm of written content, there’s a hidden figure shaping many of the stories we read. This figure is known as a ghostwriter. But how does ghostwriting work? Here, we delve into the intricacies of this exciting field.

I don’t want to interview people. I want to have a conversation. I want to talk to Paul McCartney about the bass sound on ‘The White Album.’Nikki Sixx

The Ghostwriting Concept

As a term, ghostwriting is a metaphor for an invisible figure creating content that is officially credited to someone else. While the ghostwriter is the true writer, the individual or entity credited with the work is typically known as the author. The ‘ghost’ is absent from the limelight yet plays a significant role in the production of the manuscript.

The Ghostwriting Agreement

At the heart of a ghostwriting project lies a crucial document known as a Statement of Work (SOW). This legal document details the terms of the project, outlining what the ghostwriter will deliver and ensuring that the client retains the copyright to the finished manuscript.

The Ghostwriting Process

How does ghostwriting work in terms of process? After the SOW is agreed upon, the ghostwriter dives into research and interviews to gather essential information for the manuscript. The process is highly collaborative, with the client reviewing and providing feedback on each chapter.

  1. Initial Consultation: The ghostwriter and client meet for a discussion about the project. This meeting could be in person or through a digital platform such as Zoom or Skype. The ghostwriter learns about the client’s ideas, expectations, and desired outcomes for the project.
  2. Proposal and Agreement: After understanding the scope of the project, the ghostwriter proposes a Statement of Work (SOW). This document outlines the terms and conditions of the project, including details about the deliverables, timeline, and payment. Both parties need to agree on the SOW before proceeding.
  3. Research and Interviews: Once the SOW is signed, the ghostwriter commences the research phase. They might conduct interviews, delve into archives, or peruse relevant literature to gather necessary information for the manuscript. I generally perform several interviews to get a feel for what the client wants, their voice, background, and so forth.
  4. Content Creation: Armed with the needed information, the ghostwriter begins writing. They translate the client’s ideas into compelling and engaging prose, ensuring the manuscript aligns with the client’s vision and voice. For my process, the client and I collaborate on each chapter: interview, writing, revisions, and final sign off on the chapter.
  5. Review and Revision: After the completion of each chapter, the ghostwriter sends it to the client for review. The client can then provide feedback or request changes. This iterative process helps ensure that the final manuscript meets the client’s expectations.
  6. Final Proofreading and Editing: Once all chapters are written and approved, the ghostwriter undertakes a final proofreading and editing process. This phase is crucial to ensuring the manuscript is polished, error-free, and ready for publication.
  7. Delivery of the Final Manuscript: After all revisions and edits have been made, the ghostwriter delivers the final manuscript to the client. At this point, the client owns all the rights to the manuscript and can proceed with publication.
  8. Send to editor: I highly recommend sending the book to a professional line-editor for that final polish. This step is not necessary for books that are being traditionally published.
  9. Post-Delivery Support: Depending on the agreement, the ghostwriter may provide post-delivery support. This could include assisting with queries during the publication process or helping with promotional content.

Customizability in Ghostwriting

The services of a ghostwriter are highly customizable. In some cases, a ghostwriter may be tasked with rewriting a basic manuscript into a polished, publishable book. At other times, they might be commissioned to write a book based on a single interview. Regardless of the scenario, the ghostwriter’s main objective remains to create a compelling manuscript that aligns with the client’s vision.

The Skillset of a Ghostwriter

The ghostwriter is a master of many trades. They understand how to craft an engaging narrative that hooks the reader from start to finish. Their interviewing skills help to identify the critical points for the book and omit irrelevant information. Ghostwriters are also adept at research, ensuring the book is factually accurate and comprehensive.

The Client’s Role in Ghostwriting

While a ghostwriter provides invaluable skills and services, some tasks may still fall to the client or other service providers. Ghostwriters usually discuss these aspects with the clients, ensuring a thorough understanding of the responsibilities each party holds in the process.

Ghostwriting: A Stepping Stone to Success

  1. Visibility: Ghostwriters help individuals share their stories with the world, increasing their visibility.
  2. Expertise: For professionals, a well-written book can help establish them as thought leaders in their field.
  3. Legacy: Individuals can leave a lasting impact by sharing their wisdom and experiences through a book.

When to Consider Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting is a valuable tool when time, writing skills, or the desire to write are limited. It’s also a fantastic option for individuals who wish to share their expertise or life experiences without undertaking the significant task of writing a book themselves.


The world of ghostwriting is as intriguing as it is diverse. While the question, “How does ghostwriting work?” may seem complex, the underlying principle is simple – it’s about telling a story. Whether that story is a business guide, a self-help book, or a personal memoir, a skilled ghostwriter can bring it to life, captivating readers one page at a time.

How Does Ghostwriting Work?

How Does Ghostwriting Work

Richard Lowe
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Thank you for shedding light on how ghostwriting works! It’s fascinating to learn about the behind-the-scenes process of bringing someone else’s ideas to life through writing. I appreciate the insight and look forward to reading more from The Writing King in the future!

Vasu Devan

Very informative and helpful for aspiring ghost writers. The infographic is also very good. I have never been a ghost writer, so it was new for me.

Fransic verso

Very informative and helpful for those wanting to start their journey in ghostwriting. And love the infographic as well, clean, well organized and and look nice.


I’ve used a ghostwriter in the past, and it was such a huge help. I don’t have the time OR the inclination to write some of the things I’ve needed in the past, and my ghostwriter really saved the day.


Thank you so much for sharing, this was incredibly helpful! Could you perhaps go into detail in an upcoming article about what a solid ghostwriting agreement would look like?