Graphical banner

What Exactly Is a Ghostwriter?

We’ve all read books by business tycoons, celebrities, politicians, and thought leaders. When you’re staying up until 2 a.m. trying to get in just one more chapter (and then you really have to get some sleep or you’ll be useless the next day), have you ever wondered how they find the time to run Fortune 500 businesses, headline blockbusters, run for office, give speeches, lead workshops, and write a compelling read? Often, they’ve hired someone to write their books for them. It’s their content, their voice, their message. But getting someone else to organize material and craft sentences is extremely common.

Did You Know? Some book publishing insiders insist that nearly 50–60 percent of all published books are largely written by ghostwriters.

Some of the most common reasons people hire ghostwriters are:

  • Some, including famous content marketers, have a valuable brand to promote but either don’t have the time to write for that brand or want help expanding the breadth of the brand.
  • Others have a wealth of expertise or an exciting story to tell, but they don’t enjoy writing or it’s not part of their current skillset.
  • Many need a book quickly, and hiring a ghostwriter is the fastest way to get the job done.

Is Working with a Ghostwriter the Right Choice?

On average, it takes authors 1,000 to 2,000 hours to write a nonfiction book by themselves. Ghostwriters can reduce that time drastically, taking your time commitment down to 50 hours or fewer. Not sure if hiring a ghostwriter is right for you?

Here are a few questions to help you decide:

  • How long have you been saying you’re going to write a book? If it’s been a year or more, you might want to consider hiring a writer. Many of my clients have been tossing around the idea of writing a book (or have been working on one) for years. They’re thrilled to finally get it out there without too much time spent.
  • Does the investment make sense for you? For high-level entrepreneurs, thought leaders, celebrities, or anyone else with more money than time, ghostwriting is an obvious choice. For others, the investment is more of a stretch. If publishing a book will catapult your business or brand to the next level, consider hiring a ghostwriter.
  • Do you like writing? Does the idea of writing a book intrigue you? Some people really want to write the book themselves. If that’s you, consider instead hiring a book editor to guide you through the process.
  • How much time do you have—really? Although working with a ghostwriter for your book will save you hundreds of hours of work, it’s still a large time investment. If you’re routinely struggling to keep your head above water, why add a book to your load?

If you prefer to stick to what you do best and let a ghostwriter adapt your ideas, organize them into a logical whole, and write them into a salable manuscript, I’ll get it done. Just as you possess knowledge and experience in your chosen field, I have both when it comes to writing your book. It’s your voice, your words, your message. And rest assured, I never reveal the nature of my involvement in your book. And I value your time. Of course, I’ll need input from you, but I’ll require only a modest investment of your valuable time to get the job done.

Here’s a plus. Beyond the benefit of a book, many of my ghostwriting clients find that the interview process helps them develop clarity. Explaining their ideas to someone else forces them to articulate and clarify their methods, business, and brand. Often the book feels like a bonus.

But Is It Really Your Voice?

The process of ghostwriting a book typically involves deep engagement by the named author. While, yes, someone else sits down and “does the work” of putting words on the page, the process requires a high level of intellectual involvement from both parties. Read more.

When I ghostwrite a book, I strive to embody your voice. I pore over our interview transcripts, looking for patterns. I piece together ideas. I build on your genius. Although I write the initial words, we’re very much co-creators. You’ll leave the process feeling as though you’ve written the book, only you’ll typically save more than 300 hundreds of hours of time in the actual writing process.

Ownership and rights are yours alone. It’s your book, in every way.

Here’s How We’ll Get It Done

Every project requires a unique approach. Here’s what the process for a book typically involves:

  • Initial meeting (phone or video conference). We meet to see if we’re a good fit. During this conversation, I often ask several questions to get an overview of the project.
  • Proposal/Contract. I send out a project proposal customized to your specific book. Once we agree on the terms of the proposal, I send out a contract. Once it’s signed, we get to work. All your ideas are held in strict and complete confidentiality, as the contract states. (Read more ›)
  • Book outline. I’ll conduct three recorded interviews by phone or video conferencing. These are then transcribed. From those interviews, I draft a two- to ten-page (roughly) book outline, which you then revise. Typically, we’ll work through a few drafts together until it’s just right.
  • Interviews (usually phone or video conferencing but can be done in person). These can be held over three to five days. I’ll interview you, record our interview, and have the recording transcribed. This will usually result in more than 400 single-spaced pages of transcripts!
  • Blogs, webinars, speeches, classes that you want to include. I add this material to the pages of transcripts to incorporate into your book.
  • Style sheet. To make sure I’ve captured your voice and style, from our interviews and additional material, I’ll put together a sheet of key words and phrases you use, a few paragraphs to capture your rhythm, voice, style, and message. You’ll review. We might go back and forth a couple of times to get it right.
  • Expanded book outline. After the interviews, I create an expanded book outline, usually from 15–30 pages, depending on the complexity of the book. Again, there’s some back and forth before arriving at the final working outline.
  • Book draft. I then get down to writing the first draft. This drafting process can take anywhere from three to six months, sometimes longer, depending on reviews and revisions.
  • Author revision. Here’s where you get be as involved or uninvolved as you want. I encourage clients to make the book their won by rewording, adding stories, and clarifying ideas. Some clients make hundreds of edits and others make a dozen or so. Either is great.
  • Editing. After the final draft is complete, I get a second opinion from an editor. This helps ensure your book is of the highest quality.
  • Publishing: After the final draft is complete, we’ll move on to publishing.

The typical turnaround from idea to final draft is around ten to twelve months, but it can go slower or faster based on project needs.