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Monday, October 27, 2014

How to Hire a Ghostwriter: 8 Smart Questions to Ask

I've written many times about why I started ghostwriting more than a decade ago. One of the primary reasons is simple--the demand for ghostwriters. The market is strong, and continuing to grow, and that's good news for ghosts.

But what about the would-be book author who wants to hire a ghost? If that's you, what should you ask? You can post an ad on craigslist and you'll be inundated with responses, but how do you actually decide who to hire?

I suggest asking questions like the following:

1. How many books have you ghostwritten or coauthored? Generally, the more experience the better.

2. How many different publishers have you worked with? Again, it's nice to have a ghost who has written with a half-dozen publishers, or more. Every editor and every house is different, so a ghost who has worked with different ones has more experience pleasing different editors--and meeting their requirements--than someone with less experience.

3. What types of books have you ghosted? If you're planning to opt for POD, it makes sense to hire a ghost who has written books published by POD companies. An experienced ghost can also advise you on the right publishing package to buy from a POD company--and which things, like YouTube videos costing thousands of dollars to help "promote" your book, you're better off skipping.

4. What kind of work can your ghost perform for you? Can he conduct interviews and background research, if you need him to? Can he find studies? Does he know how to interpret research in your field?

5. How much does he charge? I've seen a trend (disturbing to a ghost like myself) of clients wanting to pay as little as possible for a book. Well, you get what you pay for. Depending on the scope of work, ghosts typically charge in the range of $10,000 to $45,000 to ghostwrite a book. If you think you'll find someone who will do it for significantly less than that (and forget about working for a "share of royalties" or some other nebulous promise), you can expect less-than-professional work.

6. Can he show you samples? While your voice is unique and a ghost will capture it, it is helpful to see books that he's ghosted before. Ideally you want him to have experience writing in your genre or about your specialty.

7. What's his background? One of the reasons I ghost books about health and wellness, fitness, and nutrition is because I've been writing about those subjects for more than 17 years. I'm a personal trainer and I know much more about fitness than the average writer--that gives me a leg up on a ghost who's just as experienced, but in different areas.

8. Do you "click" with this person? Your ghost isn't just a writer--he's a partner to help your book come alive. You should feel comfortable talking and working with the person--if you don't "click," I'd continue searching for the right ghost for your project.

**Kelly James-Enger ghostwrites books for a variety of clients, primarily those in the health, fitness, wellness, and nutrition fields. She's also the author of Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More