You’re eager to get to work on your book, but there are some things you should ask your ghostwriter before pen is set to paper. For example:
- Who is in charge?
- How long will it take?
- How will we communicate?
- Who will do the writing?
Let’s look at these and other questions to ask your ghostwriter. Then we’ll consider five questions you should ask yourself.
#1 – Who is in charge?
Obviously, you, the client, will be the boss. But while you will certainly want to ensure that the proper style is used and all information is correct, the ghostwriter should be the ultimate expert on how to write, lay out a chapter, and structure the book.
Remember that you hired an expert writer who knows how to craft an excellent book. If you don’t trust her to do a good job, it’s time to get a new ghostwriter. Otherwise, just sit back and let the expert do her thing.
#2 – How long will it take?
Although it’s difficult to predict exactly when a manuscript will be completed, it’s still important that you ask your ghostwriter about a plausible end date, and then create a schedule. Insist that the ghostwriter stick to the schedule, and make sure you do so as well. If you’re tardy in providing information, reading and correcting drafts, or otherwise doing your part (and that includes making payments), your project is much more likely to fall behind.
#3 – How and how often, will we communicate?
Some people are comfortable handing over their ideas or story and not hearing from the ghostwriter until the manuscript is complete. Others prefer regular communication to keep up with the progress and make suggestions as the manuscript takes shape. Perhaps you’d like to see drafts of the chapters as they are written, have a regular bi-weekly phone call, and so on.
There is no “correct” approach. Ask your ghostwriter how she prefers to work, then discuss the level of communication you’d prefer.
#4 – What will I get when all is said and done?
For a clearer idea of what you can expect, be sure to ask your ghostwriter:
- When the project is complete, what will I have in hand, a rough manuscript or a polished manuscript that has been reviewed and corrected by an outside proofreader?
- Will pictures and diagrams–if there are any–be inserted in their proper places?
- If the book is to be self-published, will the text file (and any image files) that you give me be acceptable to the self-publishing firms?
#5 – Are additional services provided?
It’s a good idea to ask your ghostwriter if she will write your marketing materials, website text, query letters, and/or a book proposal for additional fees. This isn’t necessary, but if you’d like to maintain the same “voice” throughout, you may wish to find a ghost who will also create these supporting materials.
#6 – Who will actually be doing the writing?
In many cases, the answer is obvious, for many ghostwriters are sole proprietors who handle all of the writing personally. But if you hire a ghostwriting firm, your project may be assigned to any ghostwriter on staff. That’s why you should find out who is going to write your book. If you have selected a certain person, insist that she is the one to write your book.
#7 – Are there any additional expenses above and beyond the writing fee?
Be sure to ask your ghostwriter who pays for transcribing interviews, travel expenses, copies, and so on. These things should be determined ahead of time so you aren’t subjected to surprise additional fees.
#8 – If additional research needs to be done, who will do it?
Sometimes the client will provide the ghostwriter with all of the necessary information. Other times, additional research will be needed. For example, there may be people to interview, newspaper or professional journal articles to track down, historical data to collect, and so on. For some books, it may even be necessary to visit the client’s factory or old neighborhood.
Be sure to ask your ghostwriter if there are additional fees for such things before the writing begins, and set down the desired terms in the contract.
Now ask yourself some questions
You’re eager to hire a writer and get cracking on your book.
You whip through a Google search, draw up a list of potential ghostwriters, interview them on the phone, then pick a winner.
Yes, you can accomplish this in a few days or even in a few hours.
But you shouldn’t. Sit back, put your feet up, and ask yourself a few questions.
#1 – Why you are writing your book?
What are you hoping to achieve by writing this book? Do you want to become rich? Share a wonderful story with the world? Introduce a new idea?
Thinking through the “why” will help determine the shape your book will take, its style and tone, and other issues. You may even realize that writing a book is not the best way to achieve your goals. Maybe you can accomplish more by giving speeches or posting a series of YouTube videos. For more on this, read “Why Are You Writing Your Book?”
For an interesting article on why professionals should write a book, see “5 Reasons Why Writing a Book is the New Masters Degree.”
#2 – Do you really want to use a ghostwriter?
An expert ghostwriter can do it all for you, from conceptualization to research to writing.
But do you really want everything to be done for you? For some people, the process of writing is very important. Wrestling with ideas, memories, thoughts, or feelings, perhaps making sense of a concept or special time in their lives, is very important. For such people, the process may be even more important than the final product; therefore, they may be better off creating their books completely on their own, warts and all.
Other people are not interested in the process, for their number one goal is producing a well-crafted, highly-polished book. They should strongly consider hiring a professional ghostwriter.
#3 – Which type of client are you?
There are five:
- the “You Do It” type
- the “I’ll Finish It When You’re Done” type
- the “Let’s Work Together” type
- the “Guide Me Through It” type
- the “I Did It, You Fix It” type
Read “How Does Ghostwriting Work? Here Are 5 Ways” to discover which one you are. Knowing your type will help you select the right ghostwriter.
#4 – Are you interested in standard publishing or self-publication?
Standard publishers release a relatively small number of “big deal” books they hope will become huge bestsellers, including those by celebrities and various sequels. These publishers are typically not interested in unknown authors or any book that cannot practically guarantee big sales.
So if you wish to have your book published by a standard publisher, it pays to learn what they are looking for as well as what you can expect from then. Spend some time studying self-publishing as well, and you’ll have a better idea of which approach is best for you. To learn more, see “Which is Better, ‘Standard’ or Self-Publishing? – Part I.”
#5 – What is your budget?
Book ghostwriting fees vary quite a bit, from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Setting your budget in advance will help you narrow your search for a ghost, and determine the size and scope of your book. It may even encourage you to save money by writing the book yourself—or at least a first draft—then hiring an editor to clean it up when you’re finished. For more on fees, see “What Does It Cost to Hire a Book Ghostwriter?”
Begin by asking questions
Yes, you can hire a ghostwriter first and ask questions later, but it’s better to think through these issues in advance. You’ll have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a writer, and a better chance of finding one that’s just right for you.
If you’d like help writing your book…
Contact ghostwriters Barry Fox and Nadine Taylor. Use the contact form on this page to send us a message, or call us at 818-917-5362.
You can learn more about ghostwriters and ghostwriting in general on our “Finding and Working With a Ghostwriter?” page.