How to Find the Right Ghostwriter for Your Profitable Book Idea
Everyone has a book in them somewhere, but not everyone knows how to pry it out, at least not in a way that sells. Think you have a killer idea for a book that could help, entertain, or just all-around delight readers, but don’t know where to begin when it comes to actually writing the darn thing? That’s where ghostwriters come in.
A ghostwriter is a pro with the writing experience, industry know-how, and raw language talent to help people with a story or idea to share get their thoughts out into the world. They work without credit or royalties, adapting to their client’s voice and style, working behind the scenes to get their client’s story onto paper. However, writing a book takes a lot of time and effort, and such skill does not come free or cheap. The higher dollar sign makes up for that lack of royalties or cover credit. So before you go any further, check out this post to find out if your book idea is potentially profitable and to read about the four main reasons folks need ghostwriters.
If, after assessing your book idea’s marketability, you feel a ghostwriter is a smart investment for you, the next step is to find the perfect ghostwriter. There are many talented ghosts out there, all specializing in different genres, all with a wide array of talents, but you need to find the one person who meshes well with you and can capture your voice. Producing a book, while difficult, is a fun and rewarding experience, but only if you and your ghostwriter have chemistry. It’s also crucial that you know how to find a ghost with adequate experience to handle your project.
Four Tips for Finding the Ideal Ghostwriter for Your Profitable Book Idea:
- Proper Search:
When you Google “ghostwriter” or “hire a ghostwriter,” you’re not going to see the websites of many individual, talented ghostwriters. Why? Because Google’s search results are dominated by ghostwriting agencies. You need to be wary of these companies that promise they have hundreds of best-selling ghostwriters on staff who will run to your aid at the drop of a hat. Many of those sites are giant mills where the writers are underpaid and/or inexperienced. There are exceptions. Some just act like middle men or agents to the ghostwriters (one such example is Gotham Ghostwriters). You can usually tell the difference by the quality of the website and whether or not they boast “Low, low prices!” “Affordable help making a bestseller!” Remember, ghostwriting isn’t cheap. Not good ghostwriting, anyway.
Another problem with the typical search is that you will find a lot of articles on ghostwriting rather than the websites of actual ghosts.
So how do you actually find a ghostwriter?
There are a few methods.
(1) You can post want ads on job boards like Freelancewritinggigs.com or Freelancewriting.com. This is probably the most effective way to get responses from those talented ghosts carving their own way through the industry.
(2) You can join writer Facebook groups and post inquiries there. Good ghostwriters make it a point to stay connected to their industry community, so you will find plenty of them hanging out in social media groups.
(3) You can carefully vet those ghostwriter agencies I was talking about. One way to tell if the company is a legit middle man and not a mill is to dig into or simply ask how they operate. When you send in a request, do they just assign you a writer based on what they claim is a rigorous selection process? Or do they actually let you take part in the selection? You’re looking for the latter. Also, do they take a small percentage as a finder’s fee, or charge you for that finder’s fee? Or do they not distinguish between themselves and the ghosts when it comes to payment? A credible middle-man/agency will take a small percentage cut, not the whole pie. They work for the writers, helping to connect them to clients. If they are just taking everything for themselves, that means they have ghostwriters locked in the basement (not really, but you get the point) and are just giving them a menial portion of the profit. Good ghosts don’t settle for that crap.
- What to Look for in a Portfolio:
So, now you’ve found a few candidates. How do you tell if they’re worth their salt? Their website and portfolio are great indicators. Now, a ghostwriter’s portfolio is going to look slightly different because they are usually bound by non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality. Some will provide small samples from past work with identifying info redacted, and some will just have thorough descriptions of the type of work they did for each client. They may also say things like, “This self-published book helped my client land an agent,” or “This memoir has received a solid 5-star rating on Amazon.” Some ghosts don’t have their portfolio online, but a good, experienced ghost will have something to send you should you ask to see a portfolio or project list. You can also ask them to send personal writing samples to help you get a feel for their skills. When you get those samples, pay attention to whether or not they showcase different styles and voices. A good ghost should be able to write more than one way. How else will they successfully capture your voice?
Less experience means a cheaper ghost. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means you won’t be working with a pro, but everyone has to start somewhere. If the personal samples they send look good, it may be worth taking a chance on someone less experienced. It depends on your needs and budget. Just know that dirt cheap (like $500 for a standard 50,000 word book) often means that ghost either doesn’t value their own work (so how can they value yours?) or isn’t good enough to command good rates.
Another check mark you can put next to great ghosts’ names is personal publications. Do they have books of their own published? It doesn’t matter if they are self-published or traditionally published, really; what matters is that they have the skills to complete a book and make it through the publishing process. Now, a book in the ghost’s name isn’t an end-all be-all. Check out that publication. View the Amazon preview and judge the quality for yourself.
Experienced ghosts have specialties. They know what they are good at, and they stick to it. Some ghosts only specialize in one niche, such as, say, nutrition. Others have more than one. Both a ghost with one specialty and one with ten are equally good, so long as they cover the topic you need. There are tons of genres and topics out there, so any sort of narrowing on the ghost’s part shows that they know their strengths. If what you need falls into one of their specialty categories, you’re in good hands.
- Phone Interaction: What the ghost should ask you
Now you’ve analyzed the candidates’ websites and narrowed it down to your favorite one or two. It’s time to request a quote and set up a phone call. A phone call consultation is critical. It helps you and the ghost hash out details and allows you to see if you click. You’re going to work with this person for at least 6 months, unless your book is tiny, so you need to actually like them.
The phone call is another way to vet the expertise of the ghost, too. While you’re asking the ghost about rates, work methods, and past experience, the ghost needs to be asking you a lot of questions. He or she needs to know a good deal about your project in order to craft the fairest quote. So what will a skilled ghostwriter ask you?
Here are some necessities:
- What are your goals for this book? What do you hope to achieve by publishing it?
- Who is your target audience?
- How long do you want the book to be?
- How do you plan to publish?
- Do you have a deadline in mind?
- Do you have portions of the book already in progress, or will we be moving forward from scratch?
- How much research will be involved? And do you want me (the ghost) to be responsible for finding that research, or will you be providing the material?
- How involved do you hope to be in this process? Do you want to write outlines for each chapter that I’m to follow? Do you want to do a bit of the actual writing yourself and have me rework it? Or do you want me to take your main ideas and spearhead the project myself?
Every ghost will have their own set of specific questions, but the above topics are essentials that must be covered in some shape or form to give an accurate quote. If you aren’t asked most or any of these questions, you’re probably speaking with an amateur.
The only way to do your book justice is to take the time to hunt down the perfect ghostwriter for you. Hiring a pro means you can relax and enjoy the process of watching your vision take form on the page, with whatever level of involvement fits your desires and your time constraints. With a pro, you can rest assured you’re in good hands. You can spend your time furthering your brand, building your author platform, and getting ready for the long marketing haul to make your book a success while your ghost makes sure your product is the best it can be. If you find someone you like who knows what they’re doing, I guarantee you’ll enjoy the ride and end up with a product you’re proud of.