Ghostwriter Needed: The Benefits of Hiring an Agency Versus a Freelancer

27 Jul 2021


You’ve decided to hire a ghostwriter to help you write your book. Now you are contemplating whether to use a ghostwriting agency or an individual freelancer.

You may be asking yourself questions such as “What are the benefits and drawbacks of hiring an agency versus a freelancer to do my ghostwriting?” and “How do I best assess my project needs?” or “How do I conduct a cost/benefit analysis?”

Read on for answers to these questions as well as all the information to consider when making this important decision.

Assessing Your Ghostwriting Project’s Needs

The best place to start when considering your options for ghostwriting is to first assess your project’s needs. This will help to clarify exactly what you need help with as well as who might be the best fit to assist you.

1. What kind of ghostwriting project is it?

Are you writing your memoir? Perhaps you are soliciting help with drafting an RFP. Then again, you may be seeking ongoing help in drafting content for your business blog. First step first: Be very clear on what you need now and what you will need in the future.

2. What kind of tone best fits your ghostwriting project?

Writing a company procedure manual requires a vastly different tone than does a book on dieting and nutrition. Nobody wants to hire a ghostwriter to write their nutrition book and have the end result sound more like a procedure manual. Think about what kind of tone (friendly, direct, professional, informal) makes sense for your specific project.

3. How much time will the ghostwriting project require?

You will likely need to conduct some initial research on this, but your time will be well spent. Prior to contracting with anyone—agency or individual ghostwriter—it is imperative that you know how much time and money you can expect to spend both with your current project and with any potential future projects. The time and cost outcomes in this arena are often very different between freelancers and ghostwriting agencies.

Agency Versus Freelance Ghostwriter

A ghostwriting agency is a writing company that employs multiple ghostwriters to work on a variety of writing projects.

Whether you are seeking help writing your memoir, an RFP, or content for your business blog, a ghostwriting agency can connect you with the best writer for your job.

As can be expected, seeking recommendations from trusted colleagues and friends is always, well, recommended.

Any ghostwriting agency can make their services sound good on their website, but personal testimonials are more reliable.

Ghostwriting Agency

The number one benefit of hiring an agency is having access to a team comprised of a wide variety of writers with varied experiences.

Because of the team setup of an agency, your likelihood of being paired with a writer who can understand the tone you are looking for in your writing project is greatly increased.

Further, the agency typically assigns your writer based on your needs, thereby reducing your effort in searching for the best writer for your specific job. The cost efficiency of saving you time cannot be overstated.

As Kathleen Rinchiuso, Office Manager for The Writers For Hire (TWFH), puts it, “If you have a freelancer, you have one person. They will write the book, but it’s harder for them to be their own editor. Sometimes they might help with publishing, but it is less likely they will know much about it. With an agency, you get a writer and project manager automatically on your project, as well as final proofers and individuals who are good at family history research. An agency is one stop shopping. You get an entire team for one price.

Having a team helping you with your writing project also improves the quality of work. Having multiple sets of eyes review each project increases the chance of catching errors that might be missed otherwise.

Standard business procedures with an agency dictate editing throughout the project and then again at the end. You can expect this full-service editing to be built into the initial quote.

Lastly, the benefit of security cannot be overstated.

With a team format, you are guaranteed to have someone working on your project regardless of typical life circumstances that can otherwise derail a project.

Stories abound of freelance ghostwriters ghosting their clients for a variety of reasons: The ghostwriter takes a full-time job, they take on too many projects at once, or you have a difference of creative opinion. This simply doesn’t happen when you hire an agency.

With most agencies, there are multiple writers available at any given time to fill in should the one assigned to your project experience an emergency or otherwise need to stop working on your project.

Freelance Ghostwriter

Freelance ghostwriters are individuals with whom you contract to help you with your writing project.

You can find folks who do this work full-time, but most individual freelancers work part-time.

Many websites exist for freelancers advertising their services and you are more likely to find individual freelancers than a ghostwriting agency when you search common terms such as “ghostwriter” or “ghostwriting services needed.”

As no official standards exist, freelance writers are not obligated to have any specific experience, training, or vetting prior to advertising their services. This means you might be able to find someone who will help you with your project for a very low fee.

However, as Wintress Odom, Owner and Lead Editor of TWFH, points out, the most important thing to know is that “you really do get what you pay for in the writing world. If you are trying to go cheap, you will often end up spending more money in the long run or having a failed project requiring heavy edits and rewrites due to quality.

If you are going to get a good writer OR writing team, they don’t come cheap. 

In general, the less you pay, the more time you should expect to have to put into the book personally. With a good writer, you should not have to rewrite huge portions of text on a regular basis to ‘sound like you’ or to ‘improve quality.’

Having said this, one potential benefit of hiring a freelance ghostwriter is that with the right story, and it would have to be a very good one, you might find a freelancer who would be willing to reduce their rates for royalties or credit.

Many agencies do not offer this service. Rather, they offer you a fair and all-encompassing rate quote up front.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

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Of course, the reality is that ghostwriting services do cost money, so a cost/benefit analysis should always be conducted before signing any contract. To do so, follow these three steps.

1. Create a Budget

If you are hiring a freelance ghostwriter, you will frequently need to include separate line items for other members of your project team such as researcher, historian, and editor. All these individuals are included as part of your team with an agency.

2. Estimate Your Time Investment

Secondly, consider how much time it will take to complete your project. You may even want to calculate what the hourly rate would be based on the quotes you are given.

Further, think about whether it will ultimately cost more if you need further edits. As mentioned before, all edits–ongoing and at the end of the project–are included in the initial rate quote from many agencies.

3. Consider the Value of Your Time

Lastly, think about what your time is worth to you.

Every person looking for a ghostwriter will come to different conclusions when posed this question.

What is important is that you feel satisfied with the quality of work produced relative to the time, energy, and money you invested in your project.

People outsource all manner of projects (like assembling IKEA furniture) they might be able to complete on their own simply because their time and energy is worth more to them than the initial cost output.

Hiring a ghostwriting agency is no different. You have a dream or need to write something that you may be able to do on your own, but you know that hiring a writing team will save you a ton of money, time, and effort.

Ultimately the decision of whether to hire a freelance ghostwriter or a ghostwriting agency rests on research, planning, and intuition. Upfront research will begin to guide your path. Proper planning will clarify next steps, and your intuition is what will connect you with the best writing team or freelancer for you.

A.D. Soto 
A.D. hails from the beautiful Pacific Northwest of the United States, where they have recently re-entered the field of professional copywriting. Prior publications include web copy for The Seattle Lesbian, The Next Family, and various iterations of a personal blog detailing their path to parenthood utilizing assisted reproduction. A.D. has also contributed to a vast array of internal and stakeholder communications for Portland-based nonprofits serving the Native American community; those who are chronically unhoused, and those facing domestic violence. This copy included, but was not limited to training manuals, SOPs, grants, RFPs, whitepapers, first person corporate correspondence, and press releases.

A.D. graduated Magna Cum Laude from Portland State University’s Women’s Studies program, by way of Texas Christian University. Additionally, they earned an MA in Educational Leadership and Policy with a focus on Post-Secondary and Adult Continuing Education from the same institution in 2016. A.D. is most proud of their role as a single, queer, nonbinary parent to two beautiful children, a 7 year old daughter and a 2 year old son.

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