Hiring a ghostwriter for your writing project is a significant decision. You are essentially inviting someone to step into your shoes and craft written content in your voice. This collaboration is unique and often leads to a close professional relationship, often evolving into a friendship. As you embark on this journey, it is crucial to interview potential ghostwriters to find the perfect match for your project. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide on interviewing ghostwriters, helping you select the ideal candidate for your needs.
Crafting the Right Questions
Before conducting interviews with potential ghostwriters, it’s essential to prepare a set of well-thought-out questions. These questions will serve as a foundation for evaluating candidates. While it’s beneficial to have a predefined list, remember that the best interviews often involve asking follow-up questions on the spot to gain deeper insights.
1. Ask About Ghostwriter’s Background
One of the primary areas to explore when interviewing ghostwriters is the ghostwriter’s background. This can include their educational and professional history outside of the industry, but it’s also essential to inquire about their writing experience.
Ask about the number of books they have written. Writing a book is a complex task, and experience plays a significant role in delivering a high-quality product. While some inexperienced ghostwriters might offer lower rates, consider their writing samples, and engage in thorough discussions to assess their potential ability to write your book.
Ideally, a professional ghostwriter should have written a few dozen books. However, you can consider a ghostwriter with at least three books written in your rough genre, as they will have enough experience to handle your project effectively.
2. Get Testimonials from Past Clients
The opinions of previous clients are invaluable when evaluating a ghostwriter’s credibility and skill. While ghostwriting is often shrouded in secrecy, established writers can typically provide semi-anonymous testimonials from satisfied clients.
When interviewing ghostwriters, check whether they have a healthy collection of testimonials. These testimonials can shed light on their professionalism, reliability, and ability to work closely with clients. A lack of testimonials or a reluctance to share them may indicate limited experience or client dissatisfaction.
3. Inquire about Their Writing Forte
Understanding the ghostwriter’s preferred writing genres and areas of expertise is crucial. Not all ghostwriters are well-suited for every type of project, so it’s vital to determine if their strengths align with your needs.
When interviewing ghostwriters, inquire about their writing forte. Some ghostwriters specialize in fiction, while others excel in memoirs or business-related content. Make sure their writing style and preferences align with the project you have in mind. A good match in this regard can significantly enhance the quality of your collaboration.
4. Find Out About Their Current Schedule
The availability and commitment of a ghostwriter are pivotal factors in your decision-making process. Ask about their current schedule to gauge whether they can deliver a finished manuscript within your desired timeframe.
Be cautious when considering a writer who has a full-time job in addition to their ghostwriting work. Juggling multiple commitments can lead to scheduling conflicts and potentially hinder project completion. Seek a writer who is a full-time ghostwriter as they will have sufficient time and dedication to devote to your project.
5. Avoid Scammers
Unfortunately, the ghostwriting industry is not immune to scams. To safeguard your investment, take proactive steps to avoid potential scams.
After interviewing ghostwriters, research each of them online by searching for their names online. Established writers often have a presence with books, interviews, articles, or personal websites. If a writer has no online presence or a suspiciously limited one, it may raise concerns about their legitimacy.
Be cautious if a ghostwriter requests the entire fee upfront. Legitimate professionals usually ask for a deposit of 25% to 50% upfront, with the remainder paid as work progresses. A request for the full fee in advance may be a red flag and often signals a scam.
6. Testing the Writer
If you interview a ghostwriter and have a few doubts, testing them can provide valuable insights into their writing skills and work process. However, it’s essential to compensate them fairly for their time and expertise, never requesting free work.
When interviewing ghostwriters, ask them to provide a sample of their writing for your project. Typically, writers charge per word, and you can request a sample of a specific length. A good-sized sample, around four to eight pages (about 1000 to 2000 words), can help you evaluate their writing quality.
Use this opportunity to not only assess their writing but also their reliability. Ensure they set a deadline for delivering the sample and observe whether they meet it. Punctuality in this phase is indicative of their commitment to deadlines in the future.
Additionally, pay attention to how the writer responds to your feedback on the sample. A healthy give-and-take in the writer-client relationship is essential for producing the best possible book. A writer who welcomes your suggestions and engages in constructive discussion is more likely to create a successful collaboration.
Communication is Key
Effective communication is a cornerstone of a successful ghostwriting partnership. After the interview process, observe how the ghostwriter handles communication with you. Their responsiveness to emails and texts can significantly impact the smoothness of your collaboration.
Observe Their Response Time
Ideally, a ghostwriter should commit to responding to your messages within 24 hours. Timely communication can prevent unnecessary delays and keep the project on track. It avoids frustration and upsets. Personally, I try to answer emails as quickly as possible as I don’t wish to leave my clients wondering. Certainly, I always make my deadlines and even try to beat them whenever possible.
Seek a ghostwriter who values open and efficient communication.
Evaluate Their Writing Style
Beyond a writer’s experience and qualifications, assessing their writing style is paramount. After all, their ability to emulate your voice and capture the essence of your project will determine the project’s success.
Obtain Writing Samples
Requesting writing samples is an effective way to evaluate a ghostwriter’s ability to emulate their client’s writing style. Each author should have a unique voice and style. Ask for samples that align with the type of content you intend to create. For instance, if you plan to write a business book, review samples of their previous business-related writing.
Pay attention to their tone, clarity, and ability to engage readers. Ensure that their writing resonates with your vision for the project. A competent ghostwriter should be adaptable and capable of adjusting their style to match your preferences.
Observe Voice Match
During the interview, discuss how the writer plans to capture your unique voice and perspective. Remember, the written voice is often very different from the oral one.
While interviewing ghostwriters, ask about their process for getting to know your voice and writing style. Inquire whether they will conduct interviews with you or use existing materials to immerse themselves in your content and persona. A ghostwriter’s commitment to capturing your voice accurately is a significant indicator of their professionalism.
The Collaborative Process
Effective collaboration is the bedrock of a successful ghostwriting project. Understanding how the writer approaches collaboration and integrates your feedback is crucial.
Feedback and Revisions
Discuss how the ghostwriter handles feedback and revisions while interviewing ghostwriters. A successful partnership involves a back-and-forth process where your input helps shape the final product.
Inquire about their willingness to receive feedback and their approach to revisions. A good ghostwriter should be receptive to your suggestions and open to making necessary changes to align the content with your vision.
In addition, you should also be open to the ghostwriter’s input and be willing to hear their viewpoint. After all, you’re paying the big bucks for their professional knowledge and experience. Personally, when I work with a client I always tell them that they are the boss and in the end, what they say goes. However, I will always communicate my honest opinions and give them my best guidance.
Note: It’s worth noting that positive feedback is just as important as negative. Make sure to point out what you like, so the ghostwriter can continue to provide those gems for you.
Establishing clear project milestones is essential for tracking progress and ensuring that both you and the ghostwriter are aligned in terms of expectations and timelines.
Discuss how the writer plans to break down the project into manageable milestones. This can include outlining, chapter drafts, and final manuscript submission. Clarity on these milestones can prevent misunderstandings and facilitate a smoother collaboration.
I developed a four-milestone approach that has worked well over the last twenty years:
- Completed Outline
- First half of the first draft of the manuscript
- Completed first draft
- Final edited manuscript
With the completion of each milestone, my clients make the next payment. This seamless system works well.
Hiring a ghostwriter is an exciting endeavor that can lead to a rewarding partnership. Take the time to interview potential candidates thoroughly, ensuring they possess the necessary skills, experience, and commitment to bring your project to life.
By crafting thoughtful questions, testing writers with paid samples, and evaluating their communication skills, you can increase the likelihood of selecting the perfect ghostwriter for your unique project. Remember that the right writer can turn your vision and dream into a reality, making the process of creating a book an enjoyable and fulfilling adventure.