There is no “standard” ghostwriting deal

Many people want to know how ghostwriting works. Just today a prospective client wanted to know, “How does the standard ghostwriting deal work?” The answer really is, “There is no standard deal. Every deal is different because each client and project is unique.”

Some clients will drop 300 pages of notes in my lap and ask me to write a book. Others will give me a rough concept of a story or nonfiction book and let me “have at it.” Which do I prefer? I love both! The first one is easier, faster, and more cut and dry. There are obvious advantages to this. However the second option gives me complete creative freedom. There’s something very appealing about that! Which option costs more? The latter would be more expensive, because it will take more time as extensive research is needed.

Another important factor is time. Sometimes, a client will ask me to write a book in a month. I can do that, but I pretty much have to drop everything, kiss my husband and children goodbye, and find a cabin in the woods to rent to get it done.  Okay, I’m exaggerating, but there is a nugget of truth to my hyperbole. This nearly impossible feat costs top dollar.

Usually, a book takes six to eight months to write. Some clients don’t mind stretching the time line out to a year. Either way, the schedule is worked out well in advance.

How involved is the “author” in their book? My answer to that is “How involved do they want to be?” My client is the boss. If they want to help me write their book, great! We’ll work together and I’ll share my knowledge with them. If they’d prefer to be hands-off and simply review the chapters as they roll off my keyboard, that works, too.

What I will never do is write the entire book and then show it to the client. That is a recipe for disaster on many levels. It is very important to me that my client is happy with my work, as happy as they’d be if they had written it themselves. After all, their name is on the cover. They are the ones that will have to answer for each and every word. It is important that they love it!

The first thing I do is outline the story and run it by the client. Once they sign off on the summary and outline, I begin writing the chapters of the book. After the first chapter or two are written, I send them to the client for review and wait. I won’t continue to write until I get their okay. Once I have it, I know we’re on the same page and I can start cranking out a rough draft. Once I’ve written another 50 to 100 pages I’ll show them the next segment. After all, we’ve now agreed to the structure and style, so I am confident that they will like it. The revisions should be minor at this point.

One of the things I love about ghostwriting is that I get to work with many different people on many different projects. It is fun and challenging!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Hiring a ghostwriter

Should you hire a local ghostwriter?

Working with a Ghostwriter – What steps should you take?

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Laura Sherman (97 Posts)

Laura Sherman, a.k.a. “Laura the Friendly Ghostwriter,” is a professional ghostwriter and author. She enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction and is happiest when juggling multiple projects. She recently authored “Chess Is Child’s Play” to introduce the next generation to the game of kings and queens. As a parent of three, and one of the top 50 women chess players in the United States, Laura wrote this book to teach any parent to teach any child, of any age, to play chess.