WHAT IS A GHOSTWRITER?
Ghostwriting has nothing having to do with ghosts or scary stuff. I have people ask me why I want to “write about ghosts” when I tell them what I do, so I’m reassuring you right away — that’s not what ghostwriting is about. Ghostwriting means writing something for someone, either a person or company or corporation. After I’ve written the product (book, whitepaper, report etc.) the person who hires me then puts their name on the writing as the author. For instance, about half of the books published in the U.S. each year are ghostwritten. Chances are that favorite author of yours, if they are churning out a book or more a year, used a ghostwriter.
WHY DON’T PEOPLE WRITE THEIR OWN BOOKS?
It’s not that people can’t write, many of them simply don’t have the time to write. Writing is a long, hard, arduous task. It takes time, focus, discipline and a lot of mental and emotional gymnastics to create a good book, let alone a great one! CEO’s, business owners and people who have the experience, proven expertise and following that can generate a readership from a book rarely have the time to write their own books, and many of them can’t write — at least not well enough to write a book. Even if they can write, there’s just not enough time in the day to set aside for writing a 250 to 300 page book. So they hire ghostwriters to write their book for them. Most have a hand in the process. They almost always collaborate on the theme, the message, the table of contents and any specialized information the book needs to have. That may only take a couple of hours a week versus 20-40 hours a week. It’s often done through interviews, taped, and then written by the ghostwriter. For instance, in writing about finances — my clients wrote parts of the book about investing and debt that they excel in. We also had a weekly phone call/conference where we discussed certain topics and the research I gathered. Then, I just went in to those chapters and rewrote or line edited the information to make it fit the flow of their books. Most books don’t have 10 chapters of complex or expert only writing, but for those who do, I often rework the technical writing a client has to make it a book readers will want to read.
Many people are brilliant speakers in high demand. Their presence and performance on stage commands fees from $10,000 to $40,000 for an hour’s talk. Yet they can’t write. Writing is not what they do. So they focus on their strengths, which is their stage presence, networking and oral communication, and they hire me to write their books, blogs and correspondence.
Some people simply don’t know what to say, don’t have the time nor the inclination to learn how to say it. These are people who want sales materials, or editorials, blogs and other persuasive material. I even worked for one very successful CEO, first writing his profile on a dating site, then composing his emails to prospective dates. He knew what he wanted in life and went after it, but he was frustrated with the process of meeting women online. I was his “writing wingman,” and landed him 3-5 dates a week in which he was able to do what he did best — shine in person. After six months of multiple dates he met his soul mate and is now happily married.
So, reasons people hire ghostwriters:
- Too busy
- Aren’t strong writers
- Don’t know how to write a book and don’t want or have time to learn how
- They would rather spend their time doing other things, like being with their families or running their business, or pursuing a speaking career
- They on’t have the time to commit to writing their own book, either because of their work (professionals) or other commitments
- It’s not cost effective to take time away from their lives to write their own book
- They want to self-publish, but don’t want to take a year to learn the publishing business
- They don’t have the resources or knowledge to write, promote or seek out an agent
HOW DOES GHOSTWRITING WORK?
Ghostwriting is the process of hiring a person or company other than yourself to research, write and edit a book that you want written to promote yourself, your company or your business. Ghostwriters write the book, but you hold all the copy and intellectual property rights to the book. Every ghostwriter is different. Bob Bly for instance, a very well known and respected copy writer. He tells his clients this about how HE works:
How I Write, Coauthor, or Ghostwrite a Book
Clients who want me to write, coauthor, or ghostwrite a book with or for them want to know the steps involved. They are as follows:
- If you have written all or part of a book manuscript, or even just notes, or bits and pieces, send it all to me at email@example.com. (Please don’t do this unless we have already talked and agreed to work on the project together.)
- Also send me any and all background material and research you have collected, e.g., clippings of articles, Web sites, reference books, interviews, videos, audiotapes, etc.
- We will then have a long talk to flesh out the topic, slant, audience, and contents of the book. After that, I will submit a detailed table of contents for your approval.
- Once the table of contents is approved, I will begin writing the book if you are self-publishing it. If you want to sell it to a trade publisher, I can write a book proposal and, if needed, one or two sample chapters.
- As I write the book, I may call or email you to ask questions from time to time. The more thoroughly and quickly you respond, the better the book and the faster it gets done.
- I will submit the first draft of each chapter for you to read and comment on as soon as it is ready. You can give me your comments over the phone or via e-mail.
- The best method of making revisions is to type your comments into the Word file of my draft using the Word Tracking feature. (I can help you with this if you are unfamiliar with it.) Or you can simply write your comments on the manuscript and mail it back to me.
- As I revise the current chapter, I will also be writing the next one.
- I submit all chapters to you and revise them this way. Once all the chapters are finished, I put it together into a manuscript for the completed book. You get this as a Word file so you can print your own book or submit it to your editor at the publishing house.
Bob’s method is an excellent one, and of all the writer’s I know, is closest to my own. The process can be fairly easy and straightforward. For a more realistic breakdown of how things actually work, I’m writing a book called, “The Curmudgeonly Editor’s Guide to Writing Your First Book.” It details all the “sausage making” details of the actual process. I say sausage making because many people wouldn’t eat sausage if they saw it being made, and many people would not approach writing a book by themselves if they understood what it actually takes to write 300 pages about something near and dear to their hearts.
Per project. Email me for a quote.
Prices range from $1,500 to $10,000
Price depends on whether you have the basic story line and plot, or not.
Prices range from $2,000 to $20,000
Most copy writing for brochures is $1 a word. Includes design.
Website copy writing
This is your about page, home page, articles etc.
Ranges from $1 a word to per page price of $50-$100 depending on page content.
Per project, or .50 cents to $2.00 a word (National Geographic, Rolling Stone etc)
Depends on the length of the article, magazine circulation and whether you need the article from scratch (including research and interviews), or just want someone to “clean it up” and make it legible and professional. Many times the average article can be polished $50 to $100 per 1,500 article depending on amount of fact checking and polishing needed. I can’t turn a really poorly written piece around in a couple of hours. Once I look at what you have I can give you a flat rate price however.
All writing projects are negotiable.
They’re negotiable because sometimes you have copy already and it just needs reworking. Sometimes you’re a funny guy or gal and I can quickly parlay your humor into great copy. Sometimes writing copy for technical sites requires lots of research and revisions and takes three times as long as you, or I, initially thought. Sometimes we just have great creative energy and the project feels so right I love doing it and am more willing than usual to give a little more to the project.
If you have the research, get your information to me quickly and we work well together, projects are wonderfully smooth and I can cut you a break the second time around. Sometimes I end up ending my shorts because the project is a nightmare and everything that can go wrong does, or it’s far more complex than you told me it would be, or you change your minds 92 times and I end up working for essentially .12 cents an hour after I factor in the “never again” factor.
There are a lot of variables for us both to consider. You’d think this was an exact science, but it’s not. So, I prefer to talk with you for at least an hour, and hammer out expectations, goals, milestones and other variables before signing contract and taking your money. Better to invest an hour of my time with you for FREE, and then send you a proposal than have us both end up hating the other because we didn’t click and we’re not on the same page.