What to Look For in a Book Ghostwriter

What to Look for When Hiring a Ghostwriter

Not all ghostwriters are created equally.

Before you hire a ghostwriter for your book, there are some realities that are important to understand and consider to ensure that you make a good choice.  Most people do not realize that there are many different types of ghostwriters; but like other professions, there are many different specialties when it comes to ghostwriters.

Ad-Copywriter Ghostwriters

Most ghostwriters you find on lower priced freelance sites are what are called “copywriters” or “article writers.” The web, of course,  is full of information. Where does all that information come from? If you are not a professional writer, you have probably never given much thought to it, but someone writes it all. Every web site, every blog, every product description is written by someone. If you’re shopping the online catalog of a large store, you may think the product descriptions were written by writers who work on staff for that store, but that is very unlikely. Nearly every retail store in the world hires companies to produce their catalogs and those companies hire copywriter ghostwriters to write their product descriptions.

Sales-Letter Copywriter Ghostwriters

Whenever you land on a website that is one long sales letter trying to get you to buy a product, you can rest assured that website was written by a professional sales letter ghostwriter. These ghostwriters are a few steps up on the advertizing writers or copywriters scale. Their main focus is to sell a product. They are trained in the psychology of sales and craft very persuasive arguments for why you should not only buy whatever the page is selling but why you should buy it NOW. Such sites are often stuffed with “Buy Buttons,” video testimonials and special offers good for “today only” if you “act right now”. They also tend to bundle sometimes dozens of other items in for free so that you feel like a fool if you don’t pull out your card and take advantage of the $1,000 worth of products that are “yours today for only $49.95.”  And, even if you do resist and close the site, it will pop up a “wait, don’t go!” window that will try one more time to convince you to stick around and read more or offer to give you more value or an even lower price. These sites act as automatic salesmen designed to trigger a buy response 24 hours a day, every day, for their owners.

Press Release/Article/PR Ghostwriters

Another type of ghostwriter (sometimes the same person or company) is the press-release and article writer. These ghostwriters specialize in marketing and public relations. They craft press statements and articles designed to create impressions that favor the businesses that hire them. These writers will write for hire on any topic from any political perspective. Because they are usually hired by anonymous public relations firms, these ghostwriters may not even know how their article will be used or where it will be posted.  These ghostwriters also write op-eds where they can be  posted in newspapers, blogs and other public forums for the purposes of controlling public debate or furthering a company’s agenda.

E-book Ghostwriters

Another field of ghostwriting that functions as a kind of hybrid between advertizing copywriters and professional book ghostwriters is the e-book ghostwriter. E-books are ethereal. You may buy an e-book and find it is 20 pages long or it may be 75 pages long. Rarely does an e-book go longer than 100 pages unless it is the e-book version of a real paper book. Given the ever-expanding number of e-book readers (including cell phones) on the market, there is no way to tell exactly how long an e-book is. There are many ghostwriters who write such short form books, which are basically equivalent to research papers. These ghostwriters might come from the advertising world or the book world, but the skills required to write e-books are considerably less than those required to write full length books.

Academic Ghostwriters/Editors

There are also academic ghostwriters. Most academic ghostwriters of integrity limit their services to editorial work–editing doctoral dissertations, master’s theses and undergraduate papers. These ghostwriters are specialist in either one or all six of the standard style guides: MLA, APA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard, CGOS, and CBE. These ghostwriter/editors  make sure works are cited properly and formats are correct before a student turns in his all-important thesis or paper.

Speech Ghostwriters

Most speeches you hear by any public figure or government leader are written by someone other than the speaker. Although higher level officials have professional speechwriters working full-time to craft their public addresses, many lower level and corporate leaders rely on ghostwriters. Speech ghostwriting requires a special understanding of the speaker’s audience, word perception and the speaker’s mannerisms and style.

Professional Book Ghostwriters

The last type of ghostwriter is the professional book ghostwriter. This ghostwriter is a specialist in long-form narrative writing of fiction and non-fiction books. The training in PR and marketing these ghostwriters have is focused on reaching target mass market or niche book buyers and writing stories that captivate an audience for education and/or entertainment. Professional book ghostwriters understand the publishing world–both traditional and self-publishing– and they work with authors who seek to launch or extend their careers and reach through publishing a book.  Professional book ghostwriters are also experts in interviewing, research, and writing in the voice of their clients. The best book ghostwriters are authors themselves and innately understand the needs of would-be authors.

Qualities of a Great Book Ghostwriter

  1. Perhaps most importantly, make sure your ghostwriter has published a book of his own. Most professional book ghostwriters got their start after success writing their own book. If your professional ghostwriter has not published his own book recently (within the last five years or so), beware. A lot has changed in the publishing industry in the last five years. You want your ghostwriter to be on top of those changes and to be able to hold your hand through the process of creating your book.
  2. Your professional book ghostwriter should have a clearly thought out plan for writing your book that includes a contract that covers pay terms, clear set costs, a time frame for beginning and completing the book, an editing agreement,  a rewrite agreement and any other promised services.
  3. Your ghostwriter should be available and respond to you within one business day. Many ghostwriters over-book themselves to insure against flaky clients and end up working on too many projects at once. You want a professional ghostwriter who is going to give you and your book the time it requires.
  4. A professional ghostwriter will charge a professional fee. This might seem obvious, but a high quality book will take 3-6 months to complete. Your fee, therefore, represents 3-6 months of the ghostwriter’s pay. If your ghostwriter is only charging you $6,000 for 6 months work, he is not making a living by his writing–you are hiring a hobbyist.  A professional ghostwriter will charge you between $75-$150 per page and up for a draft and edit with a minor rewrite. Any charge less than that means your book is likely being subcontracted out to overseas writers who do not speak native English. You do not want your book written by a non-native language writer. (Unless want you sentences not constructed in right way good to English writing.)
  5. Professional ghostwriters should have samples of their writing to help you to be comfortable with their knowledge of the craft. Many professional ghostwriters have websites that highlight their skills and styles. Check out their sites and read through their samples or articles to see how well they communicate in writing. If the ghostwriter’s own site is not well written or does not communicate ideas well, the work that ghostwriter produces for you will not be any better.

Your Ghostwriter Online promises absolute professionalism, quality and your satisfaction in your finished book. Click here and  fill out the form on the following page to receive your free, limited-time, no-obligation consultation (normally $100) to determine how to proceed with your book project.




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T.R. Locke

Author and Ghostwriter at Your Ghostwriter Online
I am a bestselling author and ghostwriter who loves helping others tell their stories through books. I have written more than 20 books and proposals for professionals including professors, motivational speakers, UN peace negotiators, pastors, athletes, celebrities, politicians, humanitarians, lawyers, doctors, brokers, and thought leaders from around the world. I'm happy to help you, too.
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