Contrary to popular belief, ghostwriters aren’t just for celebrities who want to release a memoir or publish a bestseller. Anyone can benefit from having a ghostwriter, whether you want a byline in a major magazine, a cover letter for your dream job, or an ebook that establishes your expertise.
Perhaps you’re too busy to write, or you’re too close to the topic to put your thoughts into words. Perhaps writing is simply not your forte. No matter your situation, a ghostwriter can work with you to produce something brilliant — your ideas, in your words, for your benefit.
How do you find — and more importantly, hire — a ghostwriter who has the requisite skills? Who can put your scattered ideas into compelling words? How can you get a ghostwriter who gets you?
Here are some things to consider:
Be clear in what you want
There are different types of ghostwriters with different niches. Some will write your whole book or memoir that’s ideal for print — others write short-form content that works better in the digital realm. You might need to recruit multiple ghostwriters, depending on your needs.
Either way, have specific guidelines (usually laid out in a creative brief) for your ghostwriter. It’s important to establish these before you even set out to hire someone. Know the word count (ballpark is okay) and target audience for the project. It’s okay if you don’t have a tone or style in mind: A good ghostwriter will work with you to help you develop that. However, the more information you can give the candidate, the better.
Assess the ghostwriter’s style
It can be challenging to determine a ghostwriter’s style, because, well, they’re usually writing in someone else’s voice! They also might have signed contracts that prohibit them from sharing their best work. In short, ghostwriters might not be able to share portfolio pieces that perfectly align with your needs.
That means that the best way to assess a ghostwriter’s capability is to simply talk to them. Good ghostwriters will want to chat with you as part of their research. They may also ask for writing samples from you that they can emulate. For your part, you should request any samples that they can legally provide and check them for grammar, spelling, and punctuation. While ghostwriters can modify their style to suit your voice, it’s much harder to fake good writing!
Set mutual expectations
A relationship with a ghostwriter is a partnership. The writer is taking your ideas and putting them into words, but you have some work to do as well. You need to be able to give constructive criticism — which is harder than you think. It involves giving clear direction on what you like and don’t like in a draft.
That’s why it’s advisable to include a set number of revisions in the contract and maximize those opportunities to give feedback. The ghostwriter will appreciate this too so that they don’t feel indebted to make countless revisions. In fact, too many rounds of revisions can derail a project. By agreeing on a structure for feedback and revision, you and the ghostwriter can work together rather than get lost in the back-and-forth.
Send an offer
Once you’ve selected a good candidate and established the scope and schedule of work, it’s time to get them on board! You’ll need to draw up a contract or non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Either of you may initiate the process.
Ensure that the contract includes all stipulations you need. Typically, the ghostwriter signs all intellectual property rights over to you, but in some arrangements, they are able to use the pieces they write for you in their portfolio. However, if you’d prefer that they keep complete confidentiality, that is something you can request in the contract.
Above all else, ensure that you’re both clear on payment terms. As freelancers, many ghostwriters will want a deposit. Typically, you’ll pay the balance due upon the successful completion of the project. If you have a large project, you may need to pay as you approve chapters or other phases of the project. Make sure that all these milestones are laid out in the contract.
Ready to get started? After you’ve written your creative brief, reach out to Free Ring Circus for your ghostwriting needs. We leverage our versatile writing skills to help put your voice into words — and tell your best story.