Have you been trying to write a book for months, years, or decades? I can’t tell you how many people I hear from who are in this position. People reach out to me on a daily basis asking for help. They desperately want to complete their books, but can’t do it on their own. If you find yourself in this boat, it might be time to hire help. After all, if you haven’t found the hundreds of hours required to write a book in the last few years, chances are you won’t have the time today…or tomorrow. So how do you find the right ghostwriter for you? That’s the challenge I wish to tackle with you today.
Research candidate ghostwriters
You can easily determine whether a candidate writer can help you with your story by researching her. Any qualified professional ghostwriter will have a website with testimonials. You can also throw her name into a search engine and see what you find. It’s a good idea to verify how reputable she is by checking her out on Google.
For instance, try typing “Laura Sherman Ghostwriter” into Google and see what you find. The first page will have various entries from my blog, but you’ll also see mentions of me from other professional writers.
You can also type in various key words that interest you and see what pops up. If you search for subjects like “memoir themes,” “help writing a book,” or “ghostwriting contract,” you’ll find a variety of writers that show up (myself included). That’s because we blog and guest blog a lot about these topics and have experience in these fields.
Now, it’s worth noting that a ghostwriter doesn’t need to rank well on Google to be a good match for you. However, a reputable ghostwriter should have some kind of web presence (other than social media).
Nail down pricing
When you begin searching for the right ghostwriter for you, there are different ways to narrow the field. I suggest that you determine your budget before you start interviewing. Some ghostwriters won’t post their rates, while others are upfront about their fees on their websites. If you can, ask for the rate before you begin the interview process. It will save you a lot of time and aggravation.
For instance, if your budget is $5,000 for an average-sized book, I wouldn’t be a good candidate for you. I charge one dollar per word (or $50,000 for a 200-page book). No matter how much I fall in love with your project’s concept, I can’t take a 90% pay cut.
If you have a small budget, I’d recommend that you scour one of the many freelancer websites to find someone within your price range. Just please be warned: you will get what you pay for.
Professional ghostwriters usually charge somewhere between fifty cents and two dollars per word.
Discover the ghostwriter’s preferred genre
Once you find a ghostwriter within your price range, you’ll need to make sure your story is one he or she can write. The genre should be within the ghostwriter’s wheelhouse. Writers often specialize. For instance, I write memoirs, business books and novels, but I will only take on projects that are uplifting, inspirational or educational. Other writers don’t have such constraints on topic, while some only write books in a specific genre. For instance, I’ve seen certain ghosts who only write romantic comedies, how-to books, or screenplays.
The right ghostwriter for you will have prior experience writing a book similar to yours. So, if you’re writing a memoir, I wouldn’t recommend a writer who has only done scientific textbooks or who specializes in cookbooks.
Read up on the ghostwriter to discover his or her area of expertise. If you have trouble finding this information online, simply ask the ghostwriter about their preferences in an email or during the initial conversation.
Summarize your story for the ghostwriter
A ghostwriter doesn’t need all the details of your story to determine if she is the right ghostwriter for you. The broad strokes are enough for her to make a decision. With this in mind, don’t download your entire story to the writer in the initial conversation. Instead, find a way to summarize it in a few paragraphs. I recommend that you prepare this before you contact a prospective ghostwriter.
I can tell you that after twenty years in the industry, I can quickly determine if I can do justice to a client’s story.
For example, here are two excerpts from recent requests:
- “My husband of 25 years abandoned me and our children to take up with another woman. I want to write a book to get back at him and her.”
- “I’m a successful real estate investor and businessman. I want to share my story of how I overcame various challenges to inspire others to follow their dreams.”
Both wanted memoirs written, but each had a very different purpose. Since I specialize in uplifting stories, I knew I wasn’t the best ghostwriter for the first person and told her this immediately. However, the second project was well within my wheelhouse and I was chomping at the bit to start writing that book. I didn’t need all the details to be interested.
Hire the right ghostwriter for you
Following these guidelines, you can quickly narrow down the candidates who could potentially be the right ghostwriter for you. Once you’ve done this homework, set up a time to talk to the writer about your story. You want to be sure that you are able to communicate easily and that there is an immediate and budding chemistry between you two about the project. That’s important as this will be a long-term relationship.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to find the right ghostwriter, check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.