Step 1: Write down the goals of your project
Before you put any of your hard-earned money into this project, you need to know what you want. This will help you when you’re talking to your ghost about your goals and objectives later in the process. Think about:
What will your project do for those who read it or use it?
Do you want the people who read your book to learn something important or life-changing? Do you want to keep them busy? Do you want them to see things from a different point of view, or do you want to shock them with a different reality? Do you want them to be different because of your book or to make different decisions?
Step 2: Figure out where to look for ghostwriters
The next step is finding a ghostwriter, which is easier said than done. Ghostwriters are not the easiest people to work with. We tend to stay out of the spotlight, and we can’t show off all our work. Because of this, matchmaking companies that work with book ghosts, like Reedsy, are great places to start your search.
Look at the market for ghostwriting and make a list of the three to five best options. Then read the profiles, look at the projects, and choose two or three that seem the best fit. Read ghost writers’ profiles, look at their listed projects, and choose the two or three that seem to fit you best.
Reach out to your top two choices, give them a short portrayal of what you need for your project, and allow for some back-and-forth so the writer can fully understand the project before giving you a price.
Step 3: Figure out how good the ghostwriter is.
It won’t be easy to hire a ghostwriter except through a ghostwriting services agency, but if you put in the time and effort to find a ghostwriter that is right for you, it will be worth it. You might end up with a beautiful book. So, without further ado, here are nine clear steps to hiring a ghostwriter.
The best people in this field are good at writing and telling stories. They are also good at problem-solving and can process and organize information. The best books can also show the real voice of the author. Your project may need the best in the business or a strong writer, depending on your goals.
Ask an editor or literary agent you trust for their opinion on any possible ghost. You’ll be able to tell the difference between good and bad writing, but a publishing professional will be aware of the small details that make a big difference. You can also judge based on what you like and what sounds good to you or reads well.
Some of the most wanted writers in the world are ghostwriters who have been published in traditional ways. But many new ghosts won’t make it, which brings us to our next tip.
Step 4: Look at what the ghost writer has written in the past.
I don’t mean following them on Facebook, though you might find some interesting things there. I want to talk about ghosts’ records:
1. What they have written and how long they’ve been writing for a living.
Ghost writers will talk to authors about whether or not we can tell potential clients how much work we’ve done for them. So, it’s likely that the ghostwriter you’re thinking of hiring has both work they can show you and work they can’t talk about.
You can get an idea of what ghosts have done by looking at their websites. For example, our website lists the books we’ve worked on, but we don’t say what part we played in each book. We wrote some, edited and fixed others, and wrote a few together with other people. Unless the ghost’s only job was as a deep ghost, they should have some written praise they can show you.
If you want a ghostwriter to write a book for you to show that you are an expert, reach more people, and grow your business, you should look for someone who has written at least two traditionally published books. I’m not saying that ghostwriters who have only worked on self-published books aren’t qualified because some of them are, but traditional publishing houses usually have much higher standards than self-publishing authors and companies that help them.
Step 5: See if the ghost can copy your voice and style.
Impersonators try to look and sound like other people by using their voices and faces. Ghosts choose their words, rhythm, and pace with care. A ghostwriter who has written more than a few books or scripts can usually match different writing styles and voices. Because of this, looking at what the ghost has already written may not be the best way to tell if they can write in the voice and style you want for your project.
If you don’t have a clear style or voice in fiction or can’t seem to write as you talk in nonfiction, an experienced writer can help you find or capture your voice. You don’t want the voice in your nonfiction book to sound like it belongs to someone else. That makes it hard for people who have met you or heard you speak and know how you really sound to connect with you. It’s also strange for people who read your book first and then hear you speak.
Step 6: Know what you want.
At this point, you’ve found the ghost you want to work with and reached out to him or her. The connection has been made. What’s next?
Make sure to tell the ghostwriter how involved you want to be in the project or how little. Are you giving them room to be creative, or do you want them to follow your detailed plan? It’s vital to make rules and stick to them. Are you willing to hear what your ghost has to say? On the other hand, is the ghost willing to add some of their own thoughts, or will they only use what you give them?
Also, think about whether you want the ghost to be able to meet with you in person or whether virtual meetings will work better. Most ghosts work with clients from far away, which works very well. But sometimes, the author wants the ghost to be nearby or able to travel to meetings, events, or long interviews.
Step 7: Talk about how the process works.
Most ghostwriting requires the author and the writer to talk to each other and work together, but how much depends on what the author wants and how the ghost works. Some ghosts spend a lot of time with the author at the beginning of a project, gathering important information, asking questions, reading and processing research, or doing interviews. They then leave for months while they write the chapters, showing the author the chapters in batches or the whole finished book. Others work with authors chapter by chapter, gathering information and sending drafts as they go. Between these two examples, there are a lot of different ways to do things.
Figure out what your role will be when you get the written drafts. For example, will you use a tracking tool to put your suggestions in the text, or will you write them as comments and let the writer decide how to use them? How many rounds of changes, if any, does the ghost’s process include?
Don’t be afraid to find out what a writer might be willing to do to help you work with them. Of course, writers want to get paid what they’re worth, but money isn’t always the only measure of value.