The Book Ghostwriter, A to Z
Are you looking for a ghostwriter? We’re Barry Fox and Nadine Taylor, experienced ghostwriters and editors of memoirs, business books, books on art and politics, and more. Our works include New York Times bestsellers, self-published books, and everything in between.
On this page, you’ll find everything you need to know about professional ghostwriters. The topics include:
- Looking for a ghostwriter
- Finding the best ghostwriter
- What a book ghostwriter does
- A look at professional book ghostwriting services
- The cost of hiring a professional ghostwriter
…and much more. Let’s begin!
1. Looking for a ghostwriter
Finding a ghostwriter is easy. Simply Google “professional ghostwriter,” “best ghostwriter,” “expert ghostwriter,” or something similar, and you’ll be rewarded with hundreds of thousands of possibilities.
Unfortunately, sorting through that haystack would take forever. So here are seven ways of making your search more specific, and much easier. These are fully explained in our article on “Looking for a Ghostwriter – 7 Great Ways.”
- Focus your search: use keywords and the Advanced Search Page to hone in on exactly the ghosts you’re looking for.
- Look at other books: the name of the ghostwriter you’re looking for may be on the cover of an already-published book.
- Check with writers’ organizations: groups like the American Society of Journalists and Authors have directories of ghostwriters and editors.
- Contact literary agencies: most agents know ghostwriters.
- Ask your author friends: they may have used a ghost they can recommend.
- Post an ad: there are many places to do so online.
- Check with your local university: an eager writing student can be a good way to go for those on a budget. (Barry wrote his first book, a national bestseller, while still in school.)
2. Finding the best ghost
Looking for a ghostwriter is easy, but finding one who’s just right for you will take a bit of effort. The best approach is to make a list of experienced ghostwriters who can handle the kind of book you want to write, and who charge fees that are within your range.
Then, talk to each one. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with—the ghost who has the personal characteristics that are most important to you.
For example, you might want someone who is sympathetic and empathetic, has a good sense of humor, behaves professionally, is organized, and so on. This is crucial, for you must feel that you can trust this person to help craft your message to the world.
Equally important, look for a ghostwriter who will challenge you to make your book even better—the one who is eager to improve your concept and can actually do so. That’s a top ghostwriter!
For a nine-step approach to hiring a book ghostwriter, see “How to Hire a Ghostwriter in 9 Steps.”
And for a video on 5 Great Ways to Google for a ghostwriter, click on the video below:
3. What types of books does a ghostwriter write?
All types—from memoirs to historical books, novels to children’s books, cook books to art books. If you can think of a type of book, you can be sure a ghostwriter has worked in that genre.
Early in our careers we specialized in health books. Today, we focus on memoirs, business books, and books on history, politics, and art.
4. What do ghostwriting services include?
When we began ghostwriting books, the service was simple: we ghostwrite books and book proposals. Today, thanks to major changes in the publishing industry, as well as the advent of self-publishing, the range of ghostwriter services had increased tremendously.
In addition to creating the manuscript, clients often request that we:
- help them decide what to do with their books
- handle editing and proofreading
- write their book proposals
- find literary agents
- facilitate self-publication
- supervise the design of their book covers and interiors
- oversee the printing process
- handle the marketing and pubic relations
For a full discussion of these items, see our “Ghostwriting Services.”
5. Can a book ghostwriter really be qualified to write on more than one topic?
Yes. Remember, the ghost is an expert at converting information and ideas into a book; he/she doesn’t have to be an expert in the particular topic. The truly professional ghostwriter’s expertise is the ability to understand the material and explain it clearly to the average person.
6. What is the ghostwriting process?
In other words, how do you work with your ghostwriter?
That depends on you.
You and your ghostwriter may sit down together to create your book from scratch. Or, the ghostwriter may do all of the conceptualizing and writing, while you simply provide some initial ideas and information. The ghostwriter may also work from material that’s already prepared, turning a rough first draft into a polished manuscript. For more, see “How Does Ghostwriting Work? Here Are Five Ways.”
And be sure to ask your ghostwriter practical questions, such as who is in charge, how long it will take, how you will communicate, who will actually do the writing, and more. See “What to Ask Your Ghostwriter Before Beginning.”
7. Who gets the credit?
Generally speaking, only your name appears on the book. The ghostwriter is “invisible” and fades away once the work is complete. Depending on the contract, the ghostwriter may or may not receive an acknowledgement in the book.
You always have the option, of course, of giving the ghostwriter “with” or “as told to” credit on the cover. This issue should be addressed in your ghostwriting agreement.
8. Is the ghostwriter allowed to tell people that he/she wrote my book?
That depends on your agreement.
You may agree that your book can be listed on the ghostwriter’s website and résumé as a ghostwritten project. You may stipulate that it can only be listed as “edited,” not “ghostwritten.” Or you may request complete confidentiality, which means the ghostwriter must remain silent.
9. How is a ghostwriter paid?
Experienced ghostwriters almost always work on a fee-only basis. They rarely write on spec, which is writing your manuscript without charging an upfront fee, in exchange for a percentage of the royalties you anticipate earning.
That’s because books are always a gamble; even the most professionally-written manuscript about an incredibly “hot” topic and created by a top ghostwriter may not earn a lot of money.
For a discussion of ghostwriting fees, see “What Does It Cost to Hire a Book Ghostwriter?”
10. How do I get the most out of my ghostwriter?
That is, how do you establish a great working relationship? This is important, for you want your ghostwriter to be enthusiastic about working on your project, speaking with you, interviewing others, reviewing the manuscript over and over again, and going the extra mile to ensure that your book is as good as it can be.
Beyond treating your ghostwriter with courtesy and respect, remember to:
- Regard the first draft as a first draft; don’t despair if you don’t love it. Ghostwriters often make guesses in the initial drafts, just to see how you’ll respond. This is your opportunity to adjust course.
- Don’t keep changing your mind about your book’s content and tone. Yes, there’s time for experimentation early on, but once you’ve set your book’s parameters, stick with them unless there’s a compelling reason not to. Randomly ricocheting from one approach to another slows things down.
- Read each draft of the material as it is sent to you. Read it carefully, and respond with your critique punctually.
For more, see “Working with a Ghostwriter.”
11. Do I need a ghostwriter who lives nearby?
No, it’s not necessary to work with a ghostwriter who lives in your neighborhood.
We are based in Los Angeles, California and we work with people and companies across the U.S. and around the world. We often begin by meeting with clients in person, but after the initial meeting, we generally communicate via phone, Skype, email, and so on.
This means that you are able to search the world to find the best ghostwriter for you.
12. What does a book ghostwriting contract look like?
There is no set format for a professional ghostwriting contract.
There are, however, several items that should be covered, including exactly what is to be written, who handles the research, who does the “main” writing, who gets authorship credit, when work is to begin, which benchmarks are to be met by certain dates, and more.
The contract is important; it sets the terms of your relationship, so read it carefully. And don’t be afraid to express your concerns or ask for changes.
For more, see “The Book Ghostwriting Contract.”
13. Should I start looking for ghostwriting assistance as soon as I get my idea?
It may be wise to hold off on finding a ghostwriter until you’ve thought through some important questions, such as why you are writing your book, what you want from a ghostwriter, and whether you prefer standard or self-publishing.
For more, see “Before You Hire a Writer, Consider These 5 Questions.”
Thinking through these issues will prepare you to hire the best ghostwriter for you. Then you can go ahead and search for “professional ghostwriter,” “best ghostwriter,” “top ghostwriter,” “experienced ghostwriter,” or something similar, put together a list of candidates, and start interviewing them.
14. How do I know if I really need a ghostwriter?
If you don’t have enough time to write your book, you need a ghostwriter.
If you have a great idea but aren’t sure how to turn it into a full-fledged book, you need a ghostwriter.
If you’ve written or dictated a first draft, but it’s not up to snuff, you need a ghostwriter.
If your writing is too technical for the layperson; if you have a wealth of knowledge and practical experience, but can’t figure out how to organize and present it; if you want to make sure your message is delivered clearly, concisely, and in a manner that appeals to the reading public, you need a professional ghostwriter. (See our “Readable Writing” series.”)
15. Is it cheating to use a professional book ghostwriter?
No. Readers of non-fiction books are interested in your ideas; they don’t really care whether you wrote every word by yourself, or had help. In fact, many people automatically assume that books authored by athletes, entertainers, and business figures are ghostwritten.
For a quick look at celebrities and their professional ghostwriters, see NPR’s article, “So You Need A Celebrity Book. Who You Gonna Call? Ghostwriters.”
Even politicians use ghostwriters. Senator Hillary Clinton, President John F. Kennedy, and First Lady Laura Bush are just a few of the politicians mentioned in the Washington Post’s article, “Who Wrote That Political Memoir? No, Who Actually Wrote It?”
You might enjoy reading this article, “Fantastic Ghostwriters and Where to Find Them,” which mentions some of the well-known people who have used ghostwriters.
16. Will a ghostwriter get me a literary agent?
If you intend to pursue traditional publishing you’ll need a literary agent, and many professional ghostwriters know agents who handle different genres: memoirs, art books, business books, and so on.
While a ghostwriter cannot guarantee that an agent will agree to represent your work, she/he can certainly put you in touch with appropriate agents. We’ve prepared a list of “100 Literary Agents To Contact,” as well as lists of “68 Agents Who Represent Memoirs & Biographies” and “30 Agents Who Represent Health Books.”
If you do approach a literary agent, be sure to read “11 Mistakes Writers Make When Approaching Literary Agents.”
17. Is there a difference between a ghostwriter and editor?
Yes! Your ghostwriter is a skilled professional, but she/he is not always the one you need to assist you. It depends on what stage you’re at in the book-writing process.
A book coach can guide you through the process of conceptualizing and creating your manuscript on your own.
If you’ve already written your manuscript, you may want to have a developmental editor review it and make suggestions for “big” changes, such as eliminating or moving sections or whole chapters around, improving character and story arcs, and so on.
Once the manuscript is complete and any “big” changes made, you may wish to work with a line and copy editor to improve the word choice, grammar, etc.
You’ll certainly need a proofreader to make sure the manuscript is perfectly “clean,” with not a comma out of place.
Are you ready to write?
If you’re ready to begin working with a professional ghostwriter to create your book, call Barry Fox or Nadine Taylor at 818-917-5362.
If you’d like more information on ghostwriting, feel free to read our blog articles on various aspects of writing and publishing.
You can also see what clients and publishing industry VIPs have said about our ghostwriting services on the Testimonials Page.
Think of us as your confidential “ghostwriters for hire” who will turn your ideas and experiences into an exciting, thought-provoking book. Our works include: