Plan on Hiring a Ghostwriter? Here’s What They Need to Know to Write Your Book

02 Jul 2020


If you plan to hire a ghostwriter for your book, you’re in good company.

While no one has specific numbers because of the confidentiality involved with ghostwriting, people estimate that 50% to 90% of all nonfiction books on the bestseller’s list are ghostwritten. And that doesn’t count the number of fiction books and memoirs penned by ghosts.

Why do so many people hire professionals to write their books? Aside from the obvious—they just don’t have the time to spend months writing a book—it’s also about the end product. Not everyone can write a quality book, and that’s why so many people turn to professional ghosts.

If hiring a ghostwriter is in your future, here are some of the things your new ghost needs to know about you and your book.

What Is Your Book’s Message?

Every book has a message. It might be some special knowledge the author has and wants to pass along. Or, it could be the telling of a family history so generations down the line understand the past.

Some books contain a motivational message that stems from a trying time or tragedy. Your ghost needs to understand the central message of your book to understand how to best approach it.

Why Are You Writing a Book?

People write books for all kinds of reasons, and if your ghost understands yours, it will help create a book that fits into your vision.

For example, if you’re writing a book to drive customers to your business, the ghost will approach it a certain way. But if you’re writing a memoir to create a legacy for future generations, the writer will approach it in an entirely different way.

What Is Your Unique Position?

Your ghostwriter will need to know about books on the market that are similar—and what yours will offer that’s different.

For example, if you’re writing a book about how you overcame severe obstacles to start a successful company, what is different about your story than the other books on the market with the same theme?

Who Is Your Audience?

Before you say that everyone will enjoy your book, know that it’s probably not true. Most successful books have a focused audience and ghostwriters understand this.

Talk to them about who your target reader is so they can gear the book towards that type of person.

What Is Your Book’s Voice?

What kind of tone do you want for your book?

Some books are written in an academic voice while others use a conversational style. Some books are humorous while others elicit strong emotions.

Talk to your ghost about the right tone for your book.

Do You Want to Be Challenged?

A good ghostwriter will play devil’s advocate and challenge some of your assumptions. This will make your book better because it allows you to see things from another’s point of view.

But not everyone is okay with being challenged—let your ghostwriter know upfront if you don’t want their input.

What Is Your Schedule?

Writing books take time, and the ghost will need to interview you for hours to extract all the information they need to write your book.

Talk to them about your availability and how much time they can expect to spend with you. This may require some negotiation on both ends.

How Much Do You Want to Spend?

It’s important to talk to the ghostwriter about your budget before you start the project. Ghostwriter fees vary according to the type of book being written, the length, and the ghost’s experience.

Let them know upfront what you have budgeted for the project and this will open up the conversation. Keep in mind that you should include things like a cover and the cost of editing in your budget.

Have You Started Writing?

For many people, the decision to hire a ghostwriter comes after they attempt to write the book themselves. If you’ve already started the book, let your ghost know. It’s a good idea to share your draft with them because it may give them insight into the direction you want them to take.

If you’ve written a rough draft of the book, but need help polishing it and making it publishable, the ghost can help with that, too. They can turn your rough draft into a polished final product.

What Materials Can You Provide?

Any materials you’ve collected for the book will help the ghostwriter. For instance, if you’ve begun researching the topic, share that data with them. If you’ve made a list of the key incidents you want to include in the book, be sure to give that to the ghost.

Some of the other materials that may prove useful to the ghostwriter are diaries, transcripts or videos of interviews you’ve given, websites that talk about you or your topic, articles or blog posts you’ve written dealing with the subject, or news stories about your or your cause.

What Are Your Expectations?

Ghostwriters are used to working in various ways, depending on the client, and you should inform the writer of your preference. Let them know if you plan to be heavily involved in the process or if you want them to write the book and show it to you at the end.

For instance, some clients like to outline and create the book together at the beginning of the process, while others prefer to be interviewed, and then then the writer take over the process.

Do You Have an Editor?

Published books should be error-free and that means your book will need to go through the editing process. Even a book written by a professional needs another pair of eyes on it before it’s published.

Some ghostwriters offer in-house editing (by another person), but others don’t. Talk to your ghost about whether they offer the service or if you need to arrange for an outside editor.

What is Your Publication Date?

Your ghostwriter will need to know your publishing schedule so they can arrange their schedule to meet the deadline.

For instance, if you’re writing a book to hand out at your next speaking engagement, let the ghost know about the deadline.

Or, if you want to write a memoir and give it as a Christmas gift to the family next year, make sure they understand your intentions

What Is Your Vision?

Do you want to create a book that can be beautifully displayed on a coffee table? Or will it be the standard 200-page print book?

Let your ghost know what you envision for your book.

Also, Remember, the length of your book will affect the price—the more words there are, the higher the price. Most nonfiction books range from 40,000 -50,000 words.

Do You Have a Publisher?

Once your book is completed, you have two options when it comes to getting it published. You can go with a traditional publisher, which will likely require a book proposal and an agent. Or you can publish the book yourself.

Your ghostwriter may have ideas about which option is better for you, although most don’t typically participate in the publishing process.

Good Communication Equals a Great Book

When hiring a ghostwriter, it’s important to think of them as part of your team. When you partner with a ghostwriter, you both have the same goal in mind: creating a great book.

And the more you communicate with the ghost and share your ideas, the more information they will have to create the book you envision.

Suzanne Kearns 
Suzanne knew she wanted to be a writer at the age of ten when she wrote her first story, and has spent the past 2 decades writing blog posts, magazine articles, nonfiction and fiction books, sales letters, white papers, press releases, website copy, and anything else that can be put in written form. She has written for Intuit, Avalara, NerdWallet, GoPayment, and as a ghostwriter for a few well-known CEO’s. Her work has appeared all around the internet, including on sites like World News and Reports,, and Forbes. She loves nothing more than being presented with a bunch of data and asked to break it down into digestible content for readers. Most days you’ll find her sitting on her porch with her laptop, writing to the sound of the ocean, and marveling that life can be this stinking good.

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2 thoughts on “Plan on Hiring a Ghostwriter? Here’s What They Need to Know to Write Your Book

  1. Hi
    I would like to inquire how I go about to create a book of my journey Sonya’s humble beginnings to the empire it is today.

    French Country Collections. Still owned & operated by Sonya & her family for over 35years or so.

    I work for Sonya & want to help her embark on telling her story.

    Kindest regards

    Tracey Allan
    [email protected]

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