How to Hire a Ghostwriter in Six Steps

how to hire a ghostwriter in six stepsMany aspiring authors wonder about how to hire a ghostwriter.

Some conclude that the process is easy: Just put together a list of candidates, have a chat with each on the phone or on Skype, then pick the winner.

Yes, you could do it that way.

Or, you can dig a little deeper and improve your odds of finding exactly the right ghostwriter for you.

How to Hire a Ghostwriter: Digging Deeper

Here’s a more in-depth way to find and hire a ghostwriter:

Step #1: Decide what you want in a ghostwriter

Not all ghosts are the same. Some specialize in a specific genre, while others are very good with several different types of books. Some will work very closely with you, while others prefer to work independently. Some enjoy helping you build your concept from scratch, while others prefer to limit themselves solely to the writing phase. Which style suits you best? Knowing this will help you winnow down the candidates.

Step #2: Gather names

A Google search is a great way to start gathering names. You can also check the Acknowledgment pages in books that you like to see if a writer has been thanked, and ask for recommendations from literary agents or organizations such as the Society of Journalists and Authors. For more on this, see “Looking for a Professional Ghostwriter.”

Step #3: Check websites; then make the “short list” of candidates

Once you’ve gathered names, go to the ghosts’ websites and read them carefully. There are some objective items you can look for, such as books they’ve worked on, testimonials from clients, and fees. But equally important is the subjective “feel” of the website. Does the ghostwriter seem professional, worthy of your trust? Is the site amateurish? Or is it so slick it doesn’t seem like there’s a real person behind it? It’s hard to explain exactly what to look for, but if something doesn’t feel right, move on. Those ghosts who still look good should make your “short list” of five to seven candidates.

Step #4: Interview the “short-listers”

Contact those who made it on to your “short list” via phone or Skype – or see them in person, if possible. Some executives and other professionals assign this task to an assistant. Don’t. What you’re really looking for in this initial conversation is a “click,” a feeling that you and the ghostwriter understand and trust each other. Naturally, you won’t know if there’s a “click” if your assistant made the call. If you find there isn’t a “click,” move on to the next ghostwriter.

Step #5: Be sure to ask all candidates, “How does ghostwriting work?

In other words, dig into that person’s working style. Find out who provides the initial information and who gathers the rest. Will working sessions take place in person, via phone or Skype, or through emails? Will the ghostwriter send you rough drafts of chapters as they are produced, or will you receive the nearly-completed manuscript all at once? Make sure you are comfortable with the ghost’s style and fully understand what your responsibilities will be.

Step #6: Review the contract

There’s a lot of variation in ghostwriting contracts, so read the agreement carefully. For more on ghostwriting contracts, see “Hiring a Professional Ghostwriter.”

Once you’ve found someone you click with, you’re comfortable with their working style and the contract looks good, you will have conquered the problem of how to hire a ghostwriter. All you’ll need to do is sign on the dotted line and get to work!