What to Ask Your Ghostwriter Before Beginning

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.

Who is in charge?

Obviously, you, the client, will be the boss. But while you will certainly want to ensure 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: 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.

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, 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.

How, and how often, will we communicate?

Some people are comfortable handing over their ideas/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.

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 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?

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.

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, and if you have selected a certain person, to insist that she is the one to write your book.

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.

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.

Ask your ghostwriter these questions, and more

If you’d like help writing your memoir, business book or other non-fiction book, contact Barry Fox and Nadine Taylor at 818-917-5362.

And to learn more about ghostwriting in general, see our “The Professional Ghostwriter, A-Z.”