What is a ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter is a writer for hire who is paid to write a book, or other text such as speeches, articles, online content or blogs, however the official credit for the work is given to the named author.

Who uses ghostwriters?

A rough estimate is that more than 50% of the non fiction books on the bestseller lists have been written with the help of a ghostwriter. Some book industry sources claim the number can be as high as 90%. Unfortunately, thanks to the nature of ghosting, no one really knows the exact number because not everyone discloses a collaboration.

Do you need to be famous to use a ghostwriter?

No. While celebrities do use ghostwriters to help them complete their books, by far the majority of ghosted books are real-life stories from so-called ‘ordinary’ people. This would include biographies of successful campaigners, business and sports people, so-called misery memoir books, as well as humorous takes on professions, such as memoirs from doctors or airplane cabin crew.

Do ghostwriters only write non-fiction?

Plenty of bestselling fiction books were not written by the person whose name is immortalised on the front cover. The primary reason for this is: it makes good commercial sense. When a publisher finds a great, bestselling author, demand will quickly outpace supply. There are, after all, only so many books a writer can churn out each year. Employing ghosts to write in the same style offers the opportunity to double, triple, or quadruple that number.

Why do authors need ghostwriters?

It can take a professional writer up to six months to create a good book. Many authors are too busy with the ‘day job’ to spend that amount of time writing engaging, high quality content. As well as knowing how to write books that sell, ghosts are a guarantee of speed and discipline. It’s a ghost’s day job to work on the book they’ve been commissioned to write. If they don’t get it done, they won’t get paid. Thus hiring a ghost pretty much guarantees a book will be completed to deadline.

Is ghostwriting ethical?

Ghostwriting is a business transaction. A ghostwriter is selling a product: writing skills and an author is paying a fee for that service. It is not unethical for a ghost to help an author voice what they want to say in a clear, engaging way. The knowledge/ideas/memories belong 100% to the person who has the name on the cover of the book.

Can you tell if a book is ghost-written?

The success of a well-ghosted book, whether fiction or non fiction, is all about authenticity. The reader has to trust and understand that what they are being told reflects the feelings, experiences and views of the person describing them. A ghost’s skill is to project the author’s true personality, which is commonly known as finding their ‘voice’.

What are the legal implications of working with a ghost?

If two authors work together on a book, the law says that they are joint owners of the copyright of that book. Unless it’s pretty clear who contributed what, the legal position is each party has the same rights as a single author. It is, however, the norm for a ghostwriter to assign all rights to copyright in exchange for compensation, or recognition, or any other negotiated terms and this is the basis for a solid ghostwriting agreement. Professional ghostwriters will automatically have this written into their standard contracts

How much does ghostwriting cost?

The lowest tier of writer, sourced from freelancing websites or from agencies specialising in vanity books, can cost as little as £5000. Ghosts with a bit of experience under their belts, and a track record of collaborating on bestsellers will expect between £25,000 and £50,000 per book, or sometimes even more. The fee is based on the time to complete the book and the complexity of the assignment.

Where do I find a ghostwriter?

 If an author already has an agreement with a publisher, or agent, they will often be able to match them with a ghost. Alternatively, authors can use Google to search for professional ghostwriters.

How do I find the best ghost for me?

Look at a ghost-writer’s previous experience. While most skilled writers can turn their hands to pretty much any subject, they do tend to specialise in particular genres, such as business memoirs, celebrity biographies or gritty ‘real life’ stories. Geography is also a consideration. For a ghost to really capture the voice of an author, it is useful to spend some time face-to-face.