Considerations before hiring a ghostwriter

Considerations before hiring a ghostwriter

When you hire a ghostwriter it can be hard to work out the best fit to work with you on your manuscript. Here are just a few considerations to keep in mind when you are looking for a ghostwriter.

Qualifications/Experience – what are the ghostwriter’s credentials? A good ghostwriter will have a solid writing career and a proven track record as a writer. However, a common misconception is that you need to find a ghostwriter who has the same ‘voice’ or the same level of expertise as you in the topic you want to write about. A good ‘professional’ writer can write about anything, in any voice for any audience. They are experts in the nuance of language and tone and the technicalities of writing. Writing a complete book with appropriate pace, voice, scene setting, structure and resolution is a skill beyond short form writing.

Budget – if you hire a lawyer, engage the services of a mechanic, a hairdresser that’s not going to destroy your hair, or an interior designer to transform your home, you expect to pay the going rate. Hiring a ‘professional’ ghostwriter is no different. Do your research so you have an understanding from the very beginning what to expect. Have a realistic expectation in terms of what you can afford and remember writing a book can take anything from 6 months to a year (or more) depending on the Brief/Scope of Works. Do you have the budget to pay for someone’s professional expertise over a six-month or year-long period? Will you be able to reimburse the writer for travel or any expenses they incur as a result of taking on your project?

Timescale – do you have a deadline in mind? Are you in a hurry to get this book written? The timescale will increase pricing (if you are in a hurry). Generally speaking be prepared for how long writing a book actually takes. Best case scenario, a 50,000 memoir can take 6 months to draft (if all goes well) and another few months to get that draft the point it’s a manuscript ready for submission to the publisher. Some books take years! This is where writing a book comes down to a level of commitment from both parties. If it was a quick and easy process – everyone would write a book.

Personality – finally, something that is probably never really mentioned in the writing community or amongst mentoring professionals as being important in terms of ‘credentials’ and that’s the fact ‘personality’ fit has a large part to play in the process.

A ghostwriter and commissioner work very closely together. Day in-day and day-out. In the case of memoirs or biographies the ghostwriter needs to understand the way you think, what has shaped you, what motivates you, emotions, feelings and thoughts. That’s not to say all of that has to go in the book – but your ghostwriter really needs to get to know you as a person.

If you are the commissioner, then you need to feel safe and secure with your ghostwriter – so trust and professionalism are significant components of the relationship. You don’t have to be best friends, but you should feel comfortable enough to talk about your own human experience or sharing all the things you want to say to your audience. If you are worried your ghostwriter is judging you then you’re not going to be inclined to share!

So trust how you feel. If you don’t think you’re going to get on with your ghostwriter (and conversely if you are a ghostwriter and don’t think things are going to work with the commissioner), then trust your instinct. There will be others!