Why and How to Hire a Ghostwriter

Jun 16, 2020 | Writing A Book

If you engage the right ghostwriter, you’ll write a better business book faster. Of course, I’m biased. I’ve been a ghostwriter for about 20 years now. Here are some things you consider if you’re thinking about engaging a ghostwriter.

Three Reasons to Engage A Ghostwriter

Most people think that people who use ghostwriters can’t write well. That’s not my clients. They’re all successful mid-career people and, as a rule, they write very well. But if your writing skills leave something to be desired, engaging a ghostwriter can be a good idea.

A ghostwriter can help you if you’ve never written a book before. Writing a book is a different kind of writing from anything you’ve ever done. You probably don’t know what you don’t know about the writing and publication process. That’s a good reason to engage a ghostwriter. Many of us don’t just help our clients write a book. We help them negotiate the publishing process and make wise decisions.

Most of my clients hire me is because they’re super busy with their business and important relationships. Squeezing the work of writing a book into an already filled-to-the-brim schedule is tough.

Decide What You Want A Ghostwriter to Do

Before you set out to find a ghostwriter, do some heavy thinking about what you want the ghostwriter to do for you. There are basically two kinds of ghostwriters.

Some ghostwriters take your stuff, go away, write a book, and come back. They’re usually a good choice if you want to minimize your time investment. They’re also a good choice if you’re looking for a specialized kind of book, such as a “fable.”

Other ghostwriters work with you more as a writing partner or even co-author. That’s the way I work. The book I help a client produce is work for hire. When we’re done, they own all the rights to the book.

How Do You Find A Ghostwriter?

The best way to find a ghostwriter who might work for you is to get a referral from someone you know. That person knows you and knows the ghostwriter. They’ve probably done a book that’s in the same category as the one you want to do. Most of my business comes from referrals, but you may not have a friend who’s used a ghostwriter he or she will recommend. What then?

There are plenty of online sources that will help you find ghostwriters. Just type “ghostwriter” into the search bar for Google. You’ll come up with more possibilities than you can reasonably check out.

Mine Amazon

Go to Amazon and look for books in the category you expect to place your book. Look for people listed as authors whose name follows the word “with” on the cover. You’ll find some ghostwriters that way, but most of us don’t get cover credit most of the time.

Look inside good books and find the acknowledgements. Most of the time, even if we don’t get cover credit, we get mentioned in the acknowledgements.

Sifting Through the Pile of Possibilities

In some ways, engaging a ghostwriter is like hiring any other professional. You should get references and check them. LinkedIn is a great place to look for ghostwriters you’ve identified. Most of us have testimonials from clients that we’ve worked with. You can read the testimonials and you can contact the people who wrote them.

Check out the books the ghostwriter has worked on. Our credentials don’t hang on the wall. Our credentials are the books we’ve worked on and the people we’ve helped succeed.

When you interview a ghostwriter, you’re likely to have a wide-ranging conversation. Even so, you should ask some questions of every ghostwriter. Here are questions to consider.

Ask them how they became a ghostwriter. Often, the story will tell you something about them and how they work.

Ask about their best and worst client experiences. Beware of ghostwriters who blame the person they worked for or who don’t give others credit.

Ask them what they expect of an ideal client. It should be reasonable and doable.

Chemistry Counts A Lot

Writing a book with someone is an intimate process. Lots of truth needs to flow back and forth. That can only happen if you’re comfortable with the ghostwriter you engage. If your head says, “Great skills!” but your gut says, “Yeah, but” listen to your gut.


You’re likely to produce a better book faster if you engage a ghostwriter.

Before you go hunting for a ghostwriter, figure out precisely what you want a ghostwriter to do.

There are lots of ways to find a ghostwriter, but you should always get references and check them.

Writing a book with someone else is an intimate process. Chemistry counts.

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