Top Questions for a Ghostwriter


questions for a ghostwriterIf you’re interested in hiring a ghostwriter to help you complete your book, you might feel you need more information. After all, hiring a writer isn’t an everyday activity. After talking to a few hundred people, I realize most authors have some questions about our ghostly industry. I’m curious, do you have questions for a ghostwriter?

Throughout the last decade, I’ve discussed various topics in my Friendly Ghostwriter blog in an attempt to shed a little light on the area. There are certain questions for a ghostwriter that seem to come up consistently, so I decided to tackle those in this article. Whenever possible, I will provide links to other articles to give you more information.

How much does a ghostwriter cost?

Whenever I give a consultation, this is by far the number one question on people’s minds. Most folks honestly have no idea how much a professional writer charges. I understand. It’s a little like walking into a boutique clothing store or a contemporary art gallery, where there are no price tags. You can only guess the cost of each item you’d like to purchase. It might run twenty dollars or it could be twenty thousand. Perhaps it is a six-figure piece.

I know the topic of money can be uncomfortable for some but I like to tackle these subjects head-on. Here are two in-depth articles I’ve written about this subject on my blog:

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

If you have questions for a ghostwriter regarding cost, the simple answer is that ghostwriters usually charge by the word. If you’re looking to hire a ghostwriter to pen a 100-page book, you can expect to pay anywhere from fifteen thousand to thirty-five thousand dollars. Some might charge more. I recently spoke with a non-fiction ghost who charged a flat fee of $125,000 for a business book.

Yes, it is expensive. And yes, there are plenty of starving writers salivating at the chance to write your book for much less. However, please don’t jump at an extremely low bid. You won’t be happy with the final manuscript and may have legal problems with plagiarism in the end. Unfortunately, most authors find they can’t use the finished product and must start over.

How long does it take to write a book?

This answer will vary depending on the writer’s experience, skill, and time available. Some writers can finish a 200-page manuscript in less than six months.

Personally, I ask for eight months to a year to write a full-length book. Sometimes I can complete it faster if there isn’t a lot of research required and the written notes provided are nearly complete. On the flip side, there are times when my client and I need a little more than a year to complete. Some projects require extra research and interviews. I don’t charge extra for this as I bid on the project and want to get a near-perfect manuscript to my client.

If a writer offers to complete your manuscript in a month or two, that would be a huge red flag. It’s far too fast. For me, the editing process alone takes at least two months because I always hire an outside editor to review the book. There is a lot of back-and-forth.

Can a ghostwriter publish my book?

No, the ghostwriter will write your book. Then it is up to you to get the book published.

Now there are companies out there who have arms to help get a book published. Although they don’t publish the book themselves, they can help you write a proposal and find a publisher. In addition, ghostwriters can take the time to do this as well, but it requires a different skill set.

Some people wonder if ghostwriters have an in with publishers and agents. Although it may seem like a logical connection, the industry doesn’t work like that. Some ghostwriters are authors in their own right. When we want to find a publisher, we need to apply just like everyone else.

Do ghostwriters edit books?

Questions for a ghostwriter. Should I edit?The main job of a ghostwriter is to write your book, in your voice and style, with your information and ideas. While some ghostwriters do edit, not all are trained editors. For instance, I’m not. If your ghostwriter doesn’t include outside editing in the price, I highly recommend that you spend that extra few thousand dollars to hire someone to review your manuscript. No matter how experienced and skilled your writer is, you need the eyes of a professional reviewing your material before publishing. 

It’s good to be familiar with the different kinds of editors available, so you can hire the one you need. Ideally, you can afford to hire all of them. If you find a mainstream publisher, they will do this work for you.

To learn more about this field, check out my article:

Different kinds of Editors

Is ghostwriting ethical?

Over the years, questions for a ghostwriter seem to often revolve around this central issue. Personally, I have been asked this a lot. People wonder if I’m ever bothered by the fact that I work a year on a manuscript only to turn it over to the author completely. My client owns all the rights and my part in the project is often kept a secret. There are no bragging rights on my end.

Do I mind giving up the rights?

No. It doesn’t bother me at all. I know that might seem like a surprise for some folks.

Do I feel ghostwriting is unethical in any way?

Again, no. I wouldn’t be in this line of work if I felt that way.

In reality, I see the book as my client’s baby. That would make me the midwife. Yes, I work hard to deliver the book, but the author is the one who came up with the idea. They provided all the information. It is my client’s book.

I have a passion for helping other people fulfill their lifelong dream of finishing their books.

For more about this subject, please check out this article:

Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

What kind of books do ghostwriters write?

Ghostwriters write many different kinds of booksSome ghostwriters specialize. I know writers who only write fiction. Others prefer to write memoirs.

Personally, I love writing about a wide variety of subjects. Over the last twenty years, I’ve written over forty nonfiction books, novels, and memoirs. I prefer writing uplifting books that help, inspire, or teach others, and am happiest when I have a few projects going at once. I’m not the type of person who enjoys a lot of downtime.

Here are a few titles of books that I have written:

Chess Is Child’s Play: Teaching Techniques That Work.

Joshua’s Missing Peace

Discovering Kindness

Taking Flight

How do clients provide information to ghostwriters?

It’s been my experience that every client/ghostwriter relationship is different. For me, I love a lot of written notes. Then I can interview based on that preliminary information. However, some clients prefer that I interview them extensively. 

I often get hundreds of pages of notes, which can be in the form of a very rough draft. Although the book needs to be completely rewritten, the notes are very helpful.

Once I have everything I need from the author, I need to double and triple-check everything using the internet, the library, and bookstores. It’s important to verify information. My clients often provide me with references.

What is the ghostwriting process like?

Many questions for a ghostwriter revolve around the process. What is it like? What can I expect?

The writing process will vary from ghostwriter to ghostwriter, but there will be some commonalities. I like to break up any long project into three steps. Here is my process in a nutshell;

First step

Before I begin writing 50,000 – 100,000 words, I need a roadmap. For a writer, this takes the form of an outline. When working with clients, I need to make sure they and I are on the same page. I would never want to write a first draft without one. This phase requires a lot of research and interviews.

Second step

Once I have my outline, I’m usually chomping at the bit to write my client’s book. This is the stage where I write the rough draft following the outline precisely so there are no surprises. I’ll send pieces of the work to the client as a write to get feedback. That way I can learn and improve. Together we create the voice and style for my author.

Third step

With the first draft completed and approved, it is time to edit the manuscript. My first step in this phase will be to incorporate the author’s suggestions and comments. Then I’ll do my own internal edit before I turn it over to an outside editor for review. By the time the book is completed and turned over to the client, it will be in excellent shape.

Throughout the process, there should be a lot of back-and-forth communication with your writer. If you have questions for your ghostwriter, be sure to ask.

To learn more about my ghostwriting process, please check out this article:

My ghostwriting process

If you have more questions for a ghostwriter, please feel free to ask me! I’m here to help.



  1. Rita besselk

    People do get there books Published from an author and ghost writers they need to vist at the persons house to take all oaper work with them ralk to the person who wants the book published get all the feed back no stone unturned if they really think the book will be a great seller then they will take the book on they have the brains as a ghost writer or author to know if it will fly of the book shelves amazon ect ect thats for sure then get thewith out money and visa versa person for the book to sigh all this pieces of important documentations for the author ect to have a cut of the money for the book its been donecbefore oeople who dont have money up front cant do the book

    • Laura Sherman

      Hello, Rita! Thank you for writing and thank you for your question. People often don’t realize that it takes a ghostwriter about a year to write a book. We don’t have anything to do with the marketing end or the sales (or the publishing). Books don’t just fly off the proverbial shelves of Amazon on their own. It takes a dedicated effort on the part of the publisher and author to make that happen. For these reasons, ghostwriters are always paid ahead of the writing and never paid on the back end. It just wouldn’t work out for the ghostwriter otherwise!


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