Should you hire a ghostwriter?

Should you hire a ghostwriter?

A huge percentage of the American population wants to write a book. The numbers are staggering, something like 88 percent or higher. And with today’s technology, it is easier for most of these people to actually write a book and publish it themselves.

But here is the situation. Not everyone who wants to write a book should, at least not if they plan to sell it in bookstores. Writing for one’s family is a very different case than writing a book so that it competes with bestselling books on Amazon or sells to the general public.

Even though you may have a great story to tell, you may not have the technique to write it in a way that captivates the reader and draws them deeply into the drama you want to share. Recognizing that fact does not mean you “shouldn’t” write your own story, but it might be helpful to look at a few other ways to get your book published.

The easiest way is to work with a ghostwriter. The story remains entirely yours. It’s your name that will be on the cover and you have complete approval of your story, but the actual writing and plot structure is done by a professional writer. Major celebrities, business people and just plain folks with an interesting story will hire writers to help them in the actual writing process.

Working with a ghostwriter does not mean the “ghost” creates the story. In the case of a business book or nonfiction book, the writer collects the information from the author through series of interviews, recordings and gathered information such as letters, articles, photos and various material that is relevant to the book.

Fiction books written by a ghostwriter can be entirely written from scratch or the author can supply the story idea, character development and plot outline and have the ghostwriter take it from there.  Some authors are no more than a brand name such as the famous Nancy Drew mystery books that were written by five different ghostwriters.

If getting your message out in a timely and professional manner is important then it may make more sense to hire a ghostwriter rather than struggle through years of learning and perfecting the writer’s craft. In some cases, people who hire ghostwriters are perfectly capable of writing a great book themselves, but they don’t have the time to do it.

Many different factors come into play when hiring a ghostwriter. Time and expertise are the big ones but so are such things as health, age, business and family commitments. It may make more sense to get a book done quickly when the market is hot for the topic than waiting until all the stars line up to create a writing schedule.

Writers who have English as a second language in most cases will not write as well as those who have English as their first language. But finding a great writer involves much more than looking at what country they come from and what language they speak. Professional writers should have invested as much time and expertise in their field as educators, doctors, lawyers, and scientists.

Finding a professional writer that writes in the genre that you want your book written is another important factor to consider. A business ghostwriter may write a bestseller on marketing but flounder completely when writing young adult fiction. Medical writers may trip over writing a book on social media. Take the process of hiring a ghost writer as seriously as if you were hiring a financial adviser. Both can have critical outcomes if the selection process is not carefully considered.

Once the decision is made to hire a ghostwriter then it’s time to get serious about how much you are willing to commit financially to the project. While you can go to places like Elance.com and Guru.com and hire a writer for as little as a penny a word, you will get a book that is written at a penny a word. Try putting it on the market and you will be doing your business more harm than good.

Expect to pay a professional ghostwriter as much as $100 to $250 a page and up. If you cannot afford that amount, consider working with the ghostwriter to split royalties, name recognition or make payments. If your book sells even as few as ten thousand copies you will easily make back every penny you put into it. If it sells 100 books tops then even a $5000 investment is wasted money.

Of course, there is more to creating a bestseller than a well-written book. Book packaging, marketing, promotion and timing all play decisive factors. But those elements only come into play after the book is solid enough to stand on its own. Even if you can afford to pay for a full page spread in the New York Times (some estimates are $150,000) and sell a few books simply from advertising, once it’s discovered that the book doesn’t deliver, the fallout will be worse than not writing a book at all.

Conclusion: If you want to “be” a writer more than simply get an important message out, then ghostwriting should not be considered. On the other hand, if the message is more important than how it’s delivered, hiring a ghostwriter may be your best solution.

By | 2016-07-27T15:32:15+00:00 March 19, 2014|Writing|Comments Off on Should you hire a ghostwriter?

About the Author:

Grael Norton is Wheatmark's Director of Marketing, specializing in helping writers design the business of selling their books. His book, The Author's Guide to Choosing a Publishing Service is currently available for free at http://authors.guide.