Behind the Writing Scene: Ghostwriters

Posted on March 7, 2014


ImageWhat is a ghostwriter? Well, it is someone writing the content behind the scenes while someone else is the face of the content.  Ghostwriters do all the research, writing, editing, and sometimes formatting of the work.  In the end, one or two people’s names and/or faces are placed on the front cover of the book, article, report, etc.

You may even know of some authors who you think have written their own works but really did not: Tom Clancy, Hilary Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Robert Patterson, for example. Especially Robert Patterson, because really, no one can come out with so many books every year and not have help. They all have had people do their writing while they essentially take all the credit. Now, that’s not to say ghostwriters are taken advantage of; it is quite the opposite, actually.  Ghostwriters are paid generously, either by the page or by the word.  For example, a 250-page book could run somewhere between $10,000- $18,000, depending on whether or not the author has a completed manuscript.  Ghostwriters are not necessarily cheap.

People who need ghostwriters can be anyone from an average person who may or may not be established as a successful author to presidents and celebrities. Authors hire ghostwriters because they lack adequate writing skills/knowledge or do not have the time or patience, and because they have the money to do so. Sometimes authors hire ghostwriters to perform tasks similar to those of editors; however, ghostwriters can write or rewrite whole sections and inject their own ideas, thoughts, plot twists, etc. into the work.  Of course, without the original idea/plot that comes from the author, ghostwriters would have nothing to write about. Sometimes the ghostwriters are required to sign a confidentiality clause to remain anonymous. This prevents lawsuits from greedy people. In some cases, ghostwriters are even hired to continue writing for deceased authors, but it doesn’t happen often.

Finding ghostwriters is the easy part. It is finding one in your price range that’s hard.  Depending on the document you want them to write, they could either charge by the word (which applies mostly to reports, articles, and short stories), by the page (which applies to manuscripts of 200 pages or more), require a portion of the royalties when the book sells, or request a combination of the three.  It is really up to the author and ghostwriter(s) to sort out the formal details.

One place to start your ghostwriter search would be Ghostwriters Ink. They can connect you with experienced editors and authors who have ghostwritten for a number of years. There is also an organization of ghostwriters called the Association of Ghostwriters, whose members have connections to each other and other people in the writing world that can also help.

Some ghostwriters undertake most of the project, doing research, gathering information, writing, rewriting, and editing every single detail. Others team up with the author to write/revise portions of the piece. Depending on the ghostwriter you choose to work with and how you approach your book, the whole process can be a fun experience for both of you. If you have an idea or plot bunny but don’t know where to start, hiring a ghostwriter can be a great way to help get your name to the top of the bestseller’s list.


Further Reading:

Ghostwriters Ink

Association of Ghostwriters

Chauncey Watson, Writer and Editor, Asta Publications

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

Posted in: Publishing