Ghostwriting FAQ: The Process


Ghostwriting FAQOver the last twenty years, people have asked me a lot of questions about my profession. Some queries pop up more than others. Here are some of the most popular ghostwriting FAQs that I’ve received that revolve around the process.

If you have other questions, please feel free to ask me any time!

What is your ghostwriting process like?

For a more detailed answer to this ghostwriting FAQ, please check out my blog article: My Ghostwriting Process from Start to Finish.

To answer simply, after a client hires me, there are three main phases a book project always goes through:

  1. Research and Outlining
  2. First Draft
  3. Final Edit

Research and Outlining

Ghostwriting FAQ involves how to outline

Every book that I ghostwrite needs to be thoroughly researched as a first step. I need to become as informed on the subject as the client. This is achieved by interviewing the author, reading books or articles on the subject, and absorbing all the notes accumulated by my client on the topic.

Once I have all the information, I can form an outline. For a business book, this will take the form of a Table of Contents complete with subheadings and descriptions of each section. For a novel or memoir, I will present my client with a detailed outline following the three-act structure. I further break this down into smaller components, so the author knows all the milestones we’ll touch to complete their book.

First Draft

Once we have the outline down, the next step will be for me to write your first draft. We will follow the outline and you can be a part of the process as much as you’d like to be.

One common ghostwriting FAQ is: Will you send me chapters as you write? The answer is yes. Although some ghostwriters like to send the completed first draft as a whole, I prefer to get your comments as we go. I can improve as I write with your feedback, incorporating your suggestions as we progress.

However, if you’re a busy executive who would prefer me just to bang out the first draft on my own before glancing at it, I can accommodate you.

Final Edit

When the first draft is completed, and you’ve submitted all your comments, thoughts, and feedback, I will begin the editing phase. My first step is to review the manuscript over and over, doing an internal edit. I will integrate your suggestions and also look for continuity and flow issues, as well as improve transitions. Once I’m satisfied with these areas, I will hire an independent editor to correct style and grammar errors.

To learn more about the various types of editing done for a manuscript, please refer to my article: Different Kinds of Editors.

How much do you charge?

I charge one dollar per word. That works out to be $25,000 for a small book (100 pages long). The average length of a book is 50,000 words (or 200 pages). Feel free to request a quote for your specific project.

How long does it take for you to ghostwrite a book

I usually ask for a year. Here’s the breakdown of time typically needed:

• First Phase: Research and Editing: 3 months
• Second Phase: First Draft: 6 months
• Third Phase: Final edit: 3 months.

Ghostwriting FAQ The ProcessNow, if you are on a tight deadline, it might be possible for me to work faster, but it will cost more. Having said that, I can never complete a book in a few months. I couldn’t deliver a quality product in that short a time. Ghostwriting requires some percolating time; I wouldn’t want to rush the process that severely.

If you have a short book to write and have detailed notes well-organized, I might be able to cut my time in half if you can give me a quick turnaround on your feedback and approvals.

How long should my book be?

Another popular ghostwriting FAQ is about the appropriate word count for a book. This really depends upon the genre and how you plan to publish. A traditional publisher will need you to match the expected word count for your book.

Typically, you need to hit the 50,000-word count benchmark to be considered by a publisher. Sometimes you can get away with 40,000 words. It’s also good to keep in mind that as a first-time author, a publisher will balk at accepting a book that is more than 100,000 words.

Of course, if you’re self-publishing, you can do whatever you like!

I’ve ghostwritten over twenty memoirs and they average about 200 pages or 50,000 words. They’ve ranged from 38,000 to 100,000 words.

For fiction, the word count really depends on your genre. Here are a few examples:

Mystery: 60,000 – 80,000 words
Young Adult: 45,000 – 75,000 words
Sci-fi and Fantasy: 80,000 – 100,000 words

More to come

I’ve received all kinds of ghostwriting FAQs throughout my decades in this career. These are just a few of the questions I’ve received in the last few months. If you have a question you’d like me to address in the next blog article of this series, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love your feedback!


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