May 29


What Everyone Should Know About Working With a Ghostwriter

By Boni Wagner-Stafford

May 29, 2017

#businessbooks, #ghostwriting, #Writing

If you're resistant to the idea of working with a ghostwriter, you're not alone. But ask yourself: do you change your own oil, balance your own tires, or butcher your own meat? You likely hire someone with specific expertise.

If you’re the CEO, you know having employees gives you more time to do the things only you can do.

In publishing, that kind of executive delegation includes working with a ghostwriter. Collaboration is how the world works best. We share our talents and pull together to make the world a better place.

1. Does working with a ghostwriter diminish my worth as an author?

Hiring a ghostwriter rarely has anything to do with writing abilities. Here are just a few of the many reasons why working with a ghostwriter might be the right decision for you:

  • You are extremely busy and don’t have the time to write yourself.
  • You want to leverage the expertise of a ghostwriter with relevant experience on your team. 
  • You want to bring an objective voice to your book project to help you confirm the veracity of your ideas.

Regardless of your motivation, what's important is that you have an idea and you have wisdom and experience to share with the world. Working with a ghostwriter means you’re simply finding a way to make it happen.

Working with a #ghostwriter lets you share your wisdom with the world faster #amwriting

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2. What’s the best way to find a ghostwriter?

There are a number of ways you can find a ghostwriter. Referrals from your personal network, online searches, LinkedIn, and freelance work sites like Upwork. I’ve been discovered and hired from my Twitter account: one of my clients liked my content and “just had a feeling”. We both discovered synergies and similarities that were impossible to predict at the start but it was a very good fit. And of course, we are ghostwriters at Ingenium Books.

3. What's my role in the writing project if the ghostwriter is writing?

Working with a ghostwriter does not mean you don’t have work to do. It’s really helpful when you are clear about what you want to accomplish, what you want to say, and often how you want to say it.

Be prepared to let the ghostwriter “interview” you to get what’s in your head into their head to they can get it onto paper. You’ll also want to provide research sources, relevant content, and sometimes even other people to “interview.” They may be quoted in the book or used in the background.

4. Do I still own the copyright if my book is written by a ghostwriter?

Absolutely. Any ghostwriters worth their salt will respect and protect your ownership of the work you produce together. They know that remaining a “ghost” with respect to the project is part of the job.

However, it never hurts to clarify that you, as the author, owns the international (or whatever jurisdiction you deem appropriate) copyright for your completed work. Having your ghostwriter sign an Assignment of Copyright Agreement is the best way to protect yourself.

5. Should I expect a contract or statement of work when working with a ghostwriter?

We always recommend a contract or statement of work between an author and ghostwriter that includes the following:

  • Terms around fees and payment schedule
  • Timelines for delivery of written material
  • Outline of the circumstances, if any, under which you deem it appropriate that the ghostwriter can use/share the material
  • A copyright statement as explained above
  • Stipulations that the ghostwriter’s name will not appear anywhere in relation to your published work.

Why you should always have a contract or SOW when working with a #ghostwriter #amwriting

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6. What if the ghostwriter wants a testimonial?

Ghostwriters are business people like any other. Having published testimonials from satisfied clients is really important. How do you handle that in a ghostwriting scenario, when you don’t want anyone to know all that prose didn’t spring from your pen? Agree in advance on what sort of “credit” the ghostwriter may receive. Here are a few ideas:

  • List them on the inside book cover as an editor
  • Include them in your acknowledgements as an advisor or consultant
  • Provide a testimonial the ghostwriter can use publicly, on their website or online profiles. (As in the examples above, you could make a reference to research, guidance, consulting, editing, or proofreading.)

There are myriad ways to make your experience working with a ghostwriter a win-win for both of you. There’s absolutely no shame in doing whatever you need to do in order to get your message—and your book—out into the world. Your audience is waiting. 

If you'd like to know more about how a book might benefit your business, check out this post.

What do you think?

  • I’m a clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience treating various psychological conditions. I have ideas about writing a fiction (and a self help book) but no time to embark on this journey. I write for a while then hit the pause button. Guess I need a guidance and hopefully your services would help.

  • I personally don’t like ghostwriter’s cause then you can’t take all the credit for the book. So yeah I think you just need to buckle down and start writing. I know its hard but once you get started I promise you it will get easier.

    • Michael/Mason, that’s the thing. When you’re making the creative and commercial decisions, hiring who you need to in order to produce and publish your book, whether that involves a ghostwriter or not doesn’t take away from your ability to take credit for the work. It does, of course, depend on the agreement you have with the ghostwriter, but in many cases, no one in the world but you needs to know your work is ghostwritten!

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