Marketing March 4, 2015 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,493 Reads share

10 Things to Know About Working with a Ghostwriter

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I write content for a lot of people. It’s my job to make them look good through their content on various blogs and in books. And yes, it is fully possible for someone else to write in your voice and tone.  If you’ve

#1. She’ll Want Input From You to Get Started

You can’t simply say “write a book for me. Go!” if you want your project to succeed. Your ghostwriter needs to get to know you a bit. If you’ve written other content, send that to her so she can get to know your style and subject matter. Spend time discussing your approach to your subject. Answer her questions. Yes, she’s the writer, but you’re the expert, so she’ll need some guidance, at least initially.

#2. Constant Feedback will Improve Her Work

I like to hear back from my clients every few weeks to understand how well I’m hitting the mark. Is the client doing a lot of editing of my work? If so, can I see those edits to understand what I need to work on? Does she feel it’s in her voice? If not, why not? Even if you’re mega busy, it’s in your best interest to be available to discuss progress with your ghostwriter so that she knows how well she’s meeting your expectations.

#3. Ghostwriters Can Do a Lot

You can use ghostwriters in ways you probably never considered: for social media updates, emails, whitepapers, web copy, guest blog posts, books…if it can be written (under your name), you can hire a ghostwriter for the job.

#4. Not All Ghostwriters are Created Equal

Now that I’ve told you ghostwriters can do a lot, I’m going to tell you that not all can do everything. You might work with one writer on your blog content, but she might have no experience writing books. Or you might work with one who knows your industry inside and out, and then you decide to branch out into other fields, and she’s lost.

You want a ghostwriter who’s got experience in your area so that she’s well-versed enough that you don’t have to explain everything to her, or so that she can easily research something to get an answer. But don’t expect her to be a Jane of all trades. You may need to hire another ghostwriter if you stray outside of her comfort zone.

#5. Each Ghostwriter Charges Differently

Check to see how the ghostwriter you want to hire charges. Sometimes it’s per project or per word. Sometimes it’s hourly. Ask for an estimate on what you’ll end up paying, especially if it’s something with an indeterminate length, like a book.

#6. You’re Not Her Only Client

Often, ghostwriters are working on multiple projects simultaneously. If time is of the essence, it’s important to have a discussion up front about an estimated turnaround time. That way, you can manage your expectations and she can allot the appropriate amount of time to work on your project.

#7. The Ghostwriter Does Not Get Credit or Own Your Content

The book or blog post you hire a ghostwriter to write for you will have your name on it. If you’re feeling generous, you could include a byline on your book, such as “with Susan Payton” after your author line, or give a shout out in the Acknoledgement section. But she can never sell what she writes for you under her name, nor claim it.

#8. A Long Relationship is Beneficial to You

I’ve been working with one of my clients for years. I know the topics she cares about, and the type of voice she likes to use in her writing. Because we’ve worked together so long, I really enjoy the relationship, and am able to deliver top-notch work.

When you work with a ghostwriter for a short project, sure, it gets done, but there’s a big ramp up in her getting to know you and your style, and little payoff beyond that. What I’m saying is: once you find a ghostwriter you like, work with her in as many ways as possible. Ask what else she does. You might start out hiring her for content, but then find out she can help you pen that book you’ve dreamed of. She’ll be more comfortable writing as you by then.

#9. She Won’t Design Your Book, but May Have Contacts

Just to be clear, there are a few things that these rockstar ghostwriters usually can’t do. Like lay out your book. Or market it. It’s important that you discuss her limitations up front, and ask if she knows anyone who can help with those other services. For example, I’ve got a great designer I partner with to lay out my clients’ books for Kindle. I don’t have to worry about doing it, and my client doesn’t have to spend the time to find someone who can do it. I bundle our services up on one invoice to simplify it for the client.

#10. She Likes It When You Inspire Her Writing

Some of my clients send me topics to write about or newsletters they find interesting. Others send me messy blurbs or outlines. Whenever I can, I use my clients’ ideas or words. So don’t be shy about sharing. You’re still the author, technically, so whatever ideas or guidance you want to provide, do so. You’ll make your ghostwriter happy. And that being said: don’t feel obligated. She’s good at what she does, so even if you don’t have time to send her snippets of content for inspiration, she’ll be fine. She’s there to make your life easier.

So how about it? Are you ready to start seeing your name in lights, with the help of a little ghostwriting?

Images: ”Fast typer on a keyboard with ghosting effects./


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Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory

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