How to Hire a Ghostwriter You Actually Trust in 9 Simple Steps

The simplest way to start narrowing your search, especially if you’re developing a business or thought-leadership book, is to leverage LinkedIn. It’s geared toward professionals and designed for efficient searching—plus you can quickly judge writers by the company they keep. Not least of all, if you find a promising ghostwriter there, you can also see similar writers other people like you have searched for to expand your circle of possibilities. Conversely, we encourage you to stay away from such websites as Craigslist (which are rife with scammers) and Upwork (which are primarily populated by less credentialed/reliable writers who will offer to write your book for a bargain).

Find a ghostwriter

How To Find and Choose A Ghostwriter For Your Project

For authors who decide to work with a ghostwriter, the whole point is to make the process easier—less time, fewer headaches, more support, and ultimately a better experience and product. But the first step of that journey—finding a suitable partner—can seem every bit as daunting and challenging as writing the book itself.

That’s in no small part because ghostwriters are meant to be invisible, after all. Most pro ghosts typically don’t market themselves and certainly don’t showcase their clients. Moreover, outside of our agency and our friends at United Ghostwriters, almost all ghosts work on their own. So searching for a writer is extremely different from trying to hire a PR or digital marketing or pretty much any other less anonymous, atomized communications or creative related service.

What makes the selection process especially tricky is the unique, intimate nature of the work we do. In most cases, our clients make their careers, their lives, even their families an open book to their collaborators. It can be an intense, emotionally trying experience that demands reliability, care, and commitment. It’s a little bit like getting married for a moment.

That’s why we advise our clients to think about picking a writing partner like choosing a life partner. Skills and experience are important, of course, but ultimately, chemistry and trust matter just as much, if not more so.

With this installment of our Ghostwriting Confidential series, we share the most important insights and best practices we have learned from over a decade of matchmaking to provide a “ghost dating manual” that helps authors just starting their journey find the right person for their project. Specifically, we cover:

What can you expect from a ghostwriter?

In general, for a nonfiction project, a ghostwriter will rely on the author to provide all the stories, case studies, research and other materials that will be used in the project. The ghost may also conduct interviews with the author and other experts to gather information and stories, and sometimes he or she also conducts research.

For fiction, the role of the ghost is less well-defined. Some novelists give their ghosts a premise, the main characters and an idea or two for how the book might end and let the writer take it from there. Other authors will break down each chapter with the ghost before the first draft.

With both nonfiction and fiction, experienced ghosts can also help you to flesh out your primary point or storyline, organize your material in a way that makes sense to readers and guide you in making decisions that are in your book’s best interest. It’s very important that you hire a ghostwriter you can trust not just because of your confidential material and relationship, but also because you’re counting on their insider knowledge and need their advice.

What will the standard process be like?

Once the writer has produced the third draft of the entire manuscript, the next step is editing, which is then followed by proofreading — both of which should be done by someone other than the writer. If you’re curious about how much of a bite all of this will take out of your wallet, we recommend taking this quick 10-second quiz below that will help break down the costs for your specific genre.

What will it cost you to hire a ghostwriter?

Choosing a good ghostwriter is ultimately up to you

A book is a very personal thing. It’s important that you feel comfortable with the writer you choose. I have provided some guidance for interviewing and choosing a ghostwriter on this site and with an accompanying free e-book, 20 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Ghostwriter. Be diligent in thoroughly investigating the writers you are considering.

If none of the writers I have referred to you for an interview prove to be a good fit, contact me again and provide more detail about your needs and the qualities you are looking for in a writer. I may be able to provide additional referrals based on your feedback. Never feel you should “settle” if a match does not feel right. Trust your instincts and stay in communication!

How to Find a Quality Ghostwriter for Hire

The first step to knowing how to hire ghostwriters is to make sure that the freelancer has a degree in journalism, English literature, communications, or another related field. Ghostwriters may also have completed short courses on writing. When you hire a ghostwriter, make sure your freelancer has:

As part of the hiring process, talk with your potential ghostwriters about their past work experience, look at books or projects they have worked on, and ask about what makes them a good fit for the job. By asking the right questions, you will be sure to find the perfect ghostwriters for your project.

You can pay ghostwriters by the hour, by the number of words written, or by the project. But before you start hiring ghostwriters, you should know your budget and details for the work that needs to be completed. You can then discuss the terms of the project with your potential hire to determine if they will be a good fit for the job.


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