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How to Successfully Work with a Ghostwriter

by Laura Sherman

how to work with a ghostwriter

A ghostwriter is a professional writer who specializes in helping her clients bring their stories to life. She will write your book but you’ll own the rights because you’re the author. Although you’ll need to be involved, she will do 90% of the work and will help see your project through to completion in a timely manner.

Over the last twenty years, I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with many different clients on over three dozen memoirs, novels, and business books. While each relationship was unique, I’ve picked out some common steps you can expect to take if you decide to work with a ghostwriter.

Finding the right ghostwriter for you

Your first course of action is to interview and select the best ghostwriter for you and your project. The most popular way to find ghostwriters is by searching for them online. You’ll find there are a lot of choices, but you can begin whittling down the list by determining three important requirements before you start interviewing.

First, know your budget . At least know your range. For instance, if you wish to write a 100-page (25,000-word) book and have a budget of $12,500, that’s fifty cents per word. Don’t contact someone who charges two dollars per word. Find writers within your range. This will save you a lot of time and frustration.

Second, know the genre of your book. You don’t want to waste your time on interviewing a writer who specializes in novels when you intend to write a business how-to book.

And, third, prepare a summary of your book. I can’t tell you how many clients spend over an hour sharing their entire story with me during our initial conversation. It’s draining and exhausting for the author and the writer. While you need to share the overview of the story to determine that the ghostwriter will be a good fit, it should be an elevator pitch lasting only a few minutes so that you have enough time and energy for the rest of the interview questions.

After you’ve determined that the potential ghostwriter is qualified, has a lot of prior experience, and is within your price range, it’s time to interview her on the phone. Prepare a list of questions ahead of time. For a little advice about the kinds of questions to ask, please read my article: Interview Questions for a Ghostwriter .

When you speak on the phone, make sure that you and your ghost can talk comfortably and easily. You want a ghostwriter who listens well and asks intelligent questions. Ideally, she will engage in your story right away. And there should be an immediate bond; it should feel like you’ve been friends for years.

Signing with a ghostwriter

when you work with a ghostwriter have a good contract

Your contract should include the following:

  • all milestone deadlines and payments
  • the expected word count of the book
  • all the services that will be provided
  • a clear agreement that the author will hold all copyrights
  • the permitted number of revision requests
  • a confidentiality agreement
  • a contingency plan in case there are disputes.

Plan to pay 25% of the total fee upfront. This covers research and outlining, which in my experience is often the most time-consuming phase. I work on a milestone approach so that my clients always know what to expect with each payment. For example, with the first payment they will receive a detailed outline within two or three months.

Work with a ghostwriter on research

Now that you’ve selected your ghostwriter and have signed the contract, it’s time to gather all your research information and notes. Don’t worry if your notes are messy and disorganized. Personally, I never mind if the notes provided are riddled with typos and grammatical errors. All I’m interested in is the information, so that I can begin formulating the outline for your book. Then I’ll set up an interview schedule to fill in the gaps.

Notes can come in a variety of forms. Over the last twenty years, clients have given me:

  • Website links
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Handwritten notes
  • Audio or video files
  • Photographs
  • Rough drafts of chapters

research when you work with a ghostwriter

For instance, if you desire to write a memoir, I’d ask that you jot down a list of crucial incidents. This list can be very basic. The wording should be designed to help you remember what happened. For instance, you might write “the time I met Mary on the subway,” “graduation day,” or “the big argument with my brother two years ago.” You know what each phrase means and can instantly remember all the details. Of course, if you’re so inclined, you could also note a few details at this time.

In the case of a non-fiction book, your notes would take the form of chapter titles for a preliminary Table of Contents. Under each chapter title, you would list out the subheads you plan to incorporate into that chapter, along with a few comments about what you want to say.

As you work with a ghostwriter, she will take these notes and use them as a starting place to create her interview questions. These questions will help her get more details to flesh out your story.

Settling a few important details

As you pull together the research notes, consider these important aspects of your book:

  • the readership

select the right genre for your book

For instance, if you’re a successful businessperson, you might have a choice between writing a memoir or a how-to book in which to share your hard-won knowledge. Or if you have led an exciting life, you might choose between writing a memoir or creating a fictionalized version of your story, turning it into a novel.

Next, you need to determine the readership of your book. This will help you choose which incidents to include in your story and the style in which they will be written. After all, a college textbook would be quite different from a romantic comedy. Or a World War II memoir would be written in a very different style from a space opera science fiction novel.

And finally, you need to clarify your goals. Do you hope to gain financially? Do you wish to share your wisdom and experience to help others improve their lives? Or do you simply wish to record your family history for your loved ones? When you know why you wish to publish your book, you can work with a ghostwriter to realize those goals.

Interviewing with a ghostwriter

Some people I speak to seem to have the impression that a ghostwriter is someone who follows a celebrity around all day, perhaps living in the guest house or a spare bedroom. While I have seen this portrayed in movies, in real life it isn’t terribly practical.

I find that it is most effective to interview clients over the phone and via email. It’s rare that I ever meet them in person (although sometimes I have had the pleasure). In-person interviews aren’t necessary and don’t make the process easier.

During these interviews, a ghostwriter will gather details on all the incidents in your memoir or novel. If you’re writing a how-to book, your writer will want to interview you to gain insight into the information, techniques, and tips which will be featured in the book. In addition, successful nonfiction books include amusing, illustrative anecdotes to hold the reader’s interest. These are usually best communicated through interviews.

As you continue to work with a ghostwriter, an effective way to pass on important information is through written materials, such as documents, notes, emails, etc. But ongoing oral interviews are key to a successful outcome because they allow her to master your voice . Becoming familiar with the way you express yourself will allow the writer to convincingly write in your style. After all, this will be your book and your name will be on the cover.

Tips on interviewing

When you are interviewed, be prepared to be candid. Don’t try to hide things. Take responsibility for your actions. If you attempt to blame others, your readers will lose respect for you and interest in the book. Embrace what happened, no matter how embarrassing or messy it may seem to you. That’s important. Then be sure to express how much you’ve learned from your mistakes. This will resonate with your readers. After all, we’ve all been there.

use your senses when describing a scene in a book

For instance, let’s say you’re sharing the story of your tenth birthday with your ghostwriter. Think about the sounds of the outdoor party. Were there birds singing or perhaps cicadas buzzing and clicking? Then try to remember the smells of freshly mown grass or grilling hamburgers. You should probably also delve into the emotions of the day. Were you excited or disappointed? There are so many possibilities. The more sensory details you add, the richer your story will be.

And finally, I’d suggest that you and your ghostwriter limit each conversation to about an hour. While an hour and a half can be fine, I wouldn’t recommend marathon three-hour talks. You’ll get worn out, and your ability to recall the details might diminish.

Planning your schedule

Plan your schedule when you work with a ghostwriter

Personally, I want to make sure to be delivering the style of writing the authors expect. To that end, I send pages to my clients for feedback on a regular basis, as I write them. That way I can be sure to be on the right track and deliver what my clients envisioned.

It is important to be upfront with your ghostwriter about your available time. In the beginning, you should plan to spend minimally a few hours a week interviewing, answering questions, and providing feedback. A good ghostwriter is flexible and, with some forewarning, can work around your schedule.

Giving feedback

When you work with a ghostwriter, she will require feedback. It’s important to be specific in your comments so that she can learn and improve. For instance, don’t simply say, “I didn’t like that.” Rather, explain what you felt was missing from the passage or what nuance you felt wasn’t correctly captured.

It’s also key to point out what you felt your ghost got right. Good feedback is just as helpful as correction. We learn from both equally.

It’s a good idea to give a quick turnaround on edits to your ghostwriter, as that will speed up the process and help her learn faster. Ideally, you can tell her when you’ll be able to review the document so she can schedule around it.

I like working with MS Word. I find Track Changes a helpful editing tool because the client can make changes within the document and I can immediately spot the edits. Plus, he or she can write comments that help explain the changes made. It’s a great tool for any writing team.

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Ghostwriting: 10 Tips on How to Become a Ghostwriter

Hannah Yang headshot

Hannah Yang

Ghostwriting title

You might have heard that ghostwriting is one of the most well-paid writing careers. It’s true—being a ghostwriter can be a lucrative option.

So what exactly is a ghostwriter?

The short answer is that a ghostwriter is a writer whose name doesn’t appear on the final work .

In this article, we’ll give you a rundown of what this industry requires and ten tips on how to get started as a ghostwriter.

What Is Ghostwriting?

What is a ghostwriter, benefits of ghostwriting, 10 tips on how to become a ghostwriter, is ghostwriting for you.

Ghostwriting is the act of one person writing under the name of another person or brand.

Ghostwriting might be more common than you think. For example, the bestselling Nancy Drew series was published under the made-up name Carolyn Keene, but was actually written by a team of ghostwriters working together.

The popular Jason Bourne series was continued under Robert Ludlum’s name until 2017, even though Robert Ludlum died in 2001.

Ghostwriting definition

Ghostwritten non-fiction books include My Side by the English soccer player David Beckham, Profiles in Courage by U.S. President John F. Kennedy, and Living History by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clients hire ghostwriters to help them create all types of work, from simple blog posts to full-length novels and memoirs.

Most clients fall into the following categories:

Books written by ghostwriters

  • Bestselling authors whose books are so popular that they no longer have time to write them all on their own
  • Industry leaders (such as business owners and health gurus) who want to share their expertise without needing to learn how to write
  • Celebrities (such as athletes and actors) who want to share their life stories without writing them themselves
  • Bloggers, brands, and businesses that want to post regular content online under their own branding
  • Publishers who want to publish more books based on the notes left behind by bestselling authors who have passed away
  • Anybody who has a great story to tell , but doesn’t have the writing experience to tell it by themselves

People who use ghostwriters

A ghostwriter is someone who writes for a client under the client’s name.

You can think of a ghostwriter as a type of co-author, except unlike a typical co-author a ghostwriter isn’t given public credit for their contributions to the project.

A ghostwriter’s duties might include:

  • Interviewing the client about their vision for the project
  • Reading the client’s notes, outlines, or journals
  • Drafting an article, story, or book using the client’s ideas
  • Revising and polishing a rough draft alongside the client
  • Writing in a style that feels like the client’s voice

Ghostwriting tasks

Why would you want to be a ghostwriter? There are several benefits that might draw you to this career.

Benefit #1: Make Money

Most ghostwriting pays better than general freelancing does.

Clients will often pay a large flat fee upfront, rather than paying you hourly for your time. As a result, you can make a large amount of money very quickly. According to Reedsy, ghostwriters can make a flat fee of $2,000-$70,000 per project.

Fees vary depending on the client. If you can land a ghostwriting gig with a large brand or a well-known author, you’ll probably be on the larger end of that spectrum.

If you’re a freelance writer and you typically set your own rates, you can increase your normal fee by a significant amount in exchange for not attaching your name to your work. After all, you’re charging not just for the writing but also for the credit.

Benefits of ghostwriting

Benefit #2: Build Relationships

Ghostwriters get to work closely with their clients. You might have long conversations together about the project you’re collaborating on. If you’re working on a memoir or autobiography you might even get to read your client’s journals.

Building these close client relationships can give you a strong professional network. Past clients might call on you again in the future or refer you to other people they know who need a ghostwriter.

Benefit #3: Learn About Interesting Topics

Ghostwriting gives you the opportunity to cover interesting topics you might not otherwise get to write about, and to learn things about those topics from an insider’s perspective.

Whatever your field is, you can learn a lot about it by ghostwriting.

For example, you can learn a lot about the tech industry and how it functions if you ghostwrite a memoir for a Silicon Valley engineer. You can learn a lot about the publishing industry if you ghostwrite a novel for a bestselling author.

Benefit #4: Gain Writing Experience

As a ghostwriter, you can practice your writing skills in a very effective way.

Under the name of a well-known client or brand, you’ll be able to reach a wide audience very quickly and see how they react to the way you write. This will make you much better at the craft if you decide you want to build your own brand later on.

It can be helpful to practice writing something you’re not emotionally involved in because you’ll have a clear perspective about the work’s strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can develop editorial skills which will also serve you well in the future.

Ghostwriting allows you to hone your craft without spending time on the other duties that come with creating your own work, such as marketing and publishing. All these tasks are left to the client while you can move straight on to your next project.

It can be hard to figure out how to become a ghostwriter, especially since the position is one of the least transparent in the writing industry.

Every ghostwriter begins somewhere. It’s just a matter of knowing how to get started.

Here are some tips for breaking into the industry.

Tip #1: Practice Your Writing Skills with Freelance Writing Jobs

The best way to become a ghostwriter is to practice writing as much as you can.

Usually, ghostwriters aren’t amateurs—they’re experienced writers who have created content in their own name in addition to writing for others.

Start by writing in your own voice. Great writing skills will get you noticed by people who are looking for ghostwriters.

One option for gaining writing experience is freelance writing. As a freelance writer, you’ll meet new clients, which will expand your writing network. Writing for clients under your own name will also help to build your credibility because you can demonstrate your writing skills.

If you take on the task of freelance writing, you can use a grammar checker like ProWritingAid to make sure you deliver clear and professional work to your clients.

Another option is blog writing. Blog posts are a great addition to your writing portfolio and can help you develop expertise in a specific topic.

You can also pitch articles to magazines and editors. There are magazines that allow anyone to pitch to them, so keep an eye out for their submission calls. By writing for magazines, you can add some reputable publications to your portfolio.

You can even work on writing books . Many ghostwriting gigs are large projects such as autobiographies, non-fiction books, and novels. Finishing a long work of your own will give you the skills you need to work on one with someone else.

Ways to build a ghostwriting portfolio

Ultimately, if you’re already an experienced writer or author, clients will naturally gravitate toward you when they need a ghostwriter. Building your writing portfolio is a great way to get started.

Tip #2: Practice Different Writing Styles

Ghostwriting clients will expect you to write in a style that sounds like theirs, rather than like your own. If you want to be a ghostwriter, you should practice becoming a writing chameleon.

Some jobs will require you to write in a conversational, chatty voice. Others will require a formal, informative voice. Still others will require lyrical, poetic prose. If you can master multiple styles, you’ll be able to nail all of these future ghostwriting jobs.

One way to work on this skill is to read widely and pay attention to the styles of the authors you read. Practice imitating the styles of your favorite authors.

Pay attention to the specific words and lexicons each author uses, the length of their words and sentences, and the rhythm and flow of their writing. How formal is their tone? How long are their paragraphs?

These exercises will equip you with the skills needed to create work in your client's voice when you need to.

Tip #3: Hone Your Interviewing Skills

To be a great ghostwriter you don’t only need to be a great writer, you also need to be a great listener.

When you land your first ghostwriting job, you will need to familiarize yourself with the project and the client.

You’ll need to have long, deep conversations with your clients about what they’re looking for and what their ideas are for the project.

You’ll need to practice active listening and ask questions about anything that isn’t clear, so that what you write can match up with the client’s vision as closely as possible.

You’ll also need to read everything they’ve written, whether that’s books, articles, or blog posts.

If you can find any jobs or volunteer work that involve interviewing and research, those skills will set you up to be a successful ghostwriter in the future.

Tip #4: Create a Website for Your Ghostwriting Business

When your future clients are considering hiring you, the first thing they’ll do is look you up online.

You want to make it as easy as possible for all your future clients to figure out who you are, what you do, and how to hire you. How do you do that? You create a writer website.

If you’re on a budget, you can start with a free or low-cost website using a platform like Squarespace, Weebly, or WordPress . Later down the line, you can invest in a website designer to make sure your website reflects your brand.

What to include on a ghostwriting website

Make it clear on your website that you’re a ghostwriter for hire. Mention the specific topics you’re experienced at writing about, so everyone can see your brand.

Your website should include some writing samples from your portfolio, such as blog posts or novel chapters. Make sure your samples relate to the type of ghostwriting work you hope to do.

Include a headshot and a short bio so clients can connect with you on a more personal level. You should also include your social media handles, if you have any, and make it clear how potential clients can contact you.

Finally, you can mention the rates you charge or say that rates are available upon inquiry. If you’re a freelance writer you can increase your rates for ghostwriting since you won’t be able to take credit for what you’ve written.

With a clean and professional writer website you’ll be able to reach clients much more easily.

Tip #5: Reach Out to Your Network for Opportunities

Once you’re ready to start ghostwriting it’s time to reach out to anyone you know who might need a ghostwriter.

If you’re an experienced freelance writer you might have a network of clients you’ve worked with in the past. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and ask how they’re doing, and if they know anyone who has ghostwriting needs.

Even if you don’t have a client network, there are still other people you can reach out to. Maybe you know someone who has a great book idea but doesn’t know how to write it. Pitch your skills to other writers you know, and even to your friends and family.

Tip #6: Pitch Your Ghostwriting Services to Businesses and Brands

It might not seem obvious but many businesses and brands have writing-related needs, even if their services have nothing to do with writing.

At the very least, almost every large company has their own website with descriptions of the company’s services.

Many companies have blogs where they post about their work to attract more customers. Some release their own eBooks to establish themselves as thought leaders within their industry.

So who writes those websites, blogs, and books? Chances are, that’s a perfect job for a ghostwriter.

Start with businesses you’re familiar with, maybe ones you’ve been buying from for years or ones in industries that you have expertise in. Send them an email mentioning that you love their products, and tell them about your ghostwriting services.

Don’t be afraid of rejection. The worst case scenario is that the company says no, in which case you can respectfully accept that decision and move on to the next potential client.

At the end of the day, finding clients can be a numbers game. If you pitch to enough brands with a strong writing portfolio, sooner or later one of them might say yes.

Tip #7: Utilize Social Media

In the age of information, social media is one of the best places to find freelance writing opportunities and that includes ghostwriting opportunities, too.

Update your Facebook profile, Twitter profile, and any other social media profiles to include your ghostwriting skills. Make sure everyone can see that you’re a ghostwriter for hire.

On sites like Twitter, you can search for specific hashtags, such as #ghostwriting and #ghostwriter. Sometimes, people will post opportunities under these hashtags, or stories about their own ghostwriting experiences.

Joining these communities will help give you a foothold into the industry.

Tip #8: Join a Job Board or Publishing Marketplace

There are plenty of websites that offer different writing jobs, some of which include ghostwriting opportunities.

Many job boards don’t explicitly offer ghostwriting gigs, but they offer many freelancing gigs by brands and businesses that might also need a ghostwriter.

Here are some job boards you can consider:

  • All Freelance Writing is a free job board that has fully vetted gigs.
  • Contenta is a job board that tracks companies that hire writers. You can reach out to the companies that have posted ads and ask if they need a ghostwriter.
  • Upwork lets you create a profile and advertise yourself. You can also see the profiles of other ghostwriters and compare your rates to theirs.
  • is a site where you can bid for freelance writing opportunities.

Where to find ghostwriting jobs

Tip #9: Understand Your Contracts

When you start signing ghostwriting contracts, have a lawyer look at your legal paperwork if possible. Taking that precautionary step will help you protect yourself from any possible legal ramifications.

In some cases, ghostwriting is transparent and the client will make it publicly known that they have a ghostwriter.

In most cases, however, a ghostwriter must sign an agreement not to reveal the project they’re working on or take any credit for the completed work.

Often, contracts will allow you to speak about your projects in general terms so you can tell future clients about your previous ghostwriting experience.

For example, you might be able to say, “I helped a client write a 300-page memoir which hit the New York Times bestseller list.”

Read your contracts carefully, and never share information about your projects publicly if your contracts tell you not to.

Tip #10: Be Patient

Ghostwriting is a job that often takes a long time to pay off.

Don’t worry if it takes a while to make it big! Success as a ghostwriter depends on two factors: luck and preparation. You can’t always control the luck factor. All you can do is make sure you’re prepared for the next time a ghostwriting opportunity comes your way.

How to be a successful ghostwriter

If you’re trying to decide whether being a ghostwriter is the right path for you, ask yourself some questions about what you hope to gain out of it.

First, ask yourself what you want to accomplish as a writer. If you’re trying to build your own platform and writing brand, ghostwriting might not be the right choice for you.

If however you want to make some good money and create a stable income stream, ghostwriting can be a great option.

You should also ask yourself if you have the right personality for ghostwriting.

If you hate the idea of someone else taking credit for your work, or the idea of giving up creative freedom over what style you’re allowed to write in, ghostwriting might be difficult for you.

On the other hand, if you’re very flexible and love collaborating on projects, you might be very successful as a ghostwriter.

Could you be a ghostwriter?

Do you think ghostwriting might be a good option for you? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.

Now is a wonderful time to be a copywriter. Download this free book to learn how:

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Hannah Yang is a speculative fiction writer who writes about all things strange and surreal. Her work has appeared in Analog Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, The Dark, and elsewhere, and two of her stories have been finalists for the Locus Award. Her favorite hobbies include watercolor painting, playing guitar, and rock climbing. You can follow her work on, or subscribe to her newsletter for publication updates.

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Last updated on Sep 12, 2023

How to Find a Ghostwriter You Can Trust With Your Story

✍️ This post is written by author, editor, and ghostwriter Tom Bromley. He is the instructor of Reedsy's 101-day course, How to Write a Novel .

It’s part of a ghostwriter’s job description to remain in the shadows. But while that discretion might help with the writing of a book, it’s less useful when it comes to tracking down a ghostwriter that you want to work with. 

As a former publisher and a ghostwriter myself, I’ve worked with clients on dozens of different titles, both with traditional publishers and also on self-published works. Each of these projects had different starting points in how that relationship came about. 

In this post, I’m going to draw on this experience to give you my best advice on how to find and select potential ghosts for your book . 

Here’s how to find a ghostwriter:

1. Browse marketplaces and agencies

2. determine the experience you seek, 3. evaluate their previous work , 4. reach out to a few ghosts, 5. get a sample of their writing.

iQmyCgrsR0A Video Thumb

To track a good ghostwriter down in the undergrowth, you’ll need to become a bit of a literary David Attenborough! There are probably five places to start your hunt…

Where to find ghostwriters:

Freelancer marketplaces

Literary agents and publishers, ghostwriting agencies, linkedin and job sites, google search .

Many ghostwriters work for themselves, so a good place to start your search are freelancer marketplaces, such as our one here at Reedsy. The advantage of using such a site is that the list of ghostwriters available is curated or quality checked: at Reedsy, we have strict criteria regarding the freelancers on our books. Each one of them has several years of experience and multiple projects under their belt. 

Screengrab of a marketplace to find ghostwriters

There is also the advantage of working within a pre-established and monitored system with regards to payment and so forth: if there are any disputes, there is a set-up to mediate and resolve them fairly, which you wouldn’t have if you were dealing with the ghost directly.

wow ghost writer


Find a ghost you can trust

Your mission? A fantastic book. Find the perfect writer to complete it on Reedsy.

Of course, Reedsy is not the only site that lists freelance gigs. Less experienced ghostwriters can be found on open marketplaces like Fiverr, Upwork, and Mediabistro. It’s worth noting that these less specialized freelancing marketplaces are not as stringent with their vetting and quality control, and you’ll need to bear this in mind when weighing up your options.

The second place to look is via the two main elements of traditional publishing 一 literary agents and publishers. Most literary agents will have a ghost on their books, or at least a writer or two they might try to persuade you would be suitable for a job. The downside here is that the agent is representing the ghost: not only will you have to factor in their fee, but they’ll have their client’s interest at heart. The potential upside is that, if they like your book idea, they may offer to represent it themselves.

Traditional publishers can be another source of ghostwriters. Most publishers will have particular ghosts that they use on a regular basis: if you can speak to a publisher, they may be kind enough to offer a suggestion or two. And if you're very lucky, a publisher might even decide to take the book on themselves.

There are a small number of ghostwriting agencies out there, such as Gotham Ghostwriters, who can also put you in touch with a possible ghostwriter. As with a marketplace, they’ll take care of the business side of the relationship for you, though like a literary agency, remember that they are representing their clients and their interests. Their pool of writers will be smaller than on a marketplace, so you might not have as many options as to whom to work with. 

Another source to find a ghostwriter is through more traditional job sites and websites such as LinkedIn. This casts the net much wider, which could be useful, but will also turn up more irrelevant results, like people ghostwriting in other ways (e.g. speechwriting), which will require more sifting. 

While job sites can be a good place to search, not all ghostwriters will be on there, and unlike marketplaces and agencies, it will include people without any experience who are in search of work. Dealing directly should mean cheaper fees, though you won’t have the backup of a marketplace or agency agreement should things go wrong. 

If all else fails, you can Google! This should probably give the most exhaustive list of these approaches, but the one with the least quality control and the most sifting to do, since you’ll have to go through each individual author’s website .

After you identify your ideal platforms to hire a ghost, consider what kind of background and experience you seek. This will enable you to compile a shortlist of potential candidates. 

A number of ghostwriters I know, including myself, come from an editing background. Some ghostwriters are primarily novelists by day, looking for a side-project to work on whilst tapping away on their magnum opus. Many others start out as journalists with knowledge and contacts in a particular field: a sports memoir is often written by a sports journalist, a business book by a business writer, and so on. 

Three examples of books ghosted by various authors.

These different backgrounds may offer both pluses and minuses for your project. A former journalist might have lots of writing experience and an eye for a news angle but less experience writing books. A former editor will have much more knowledge of structuring a book and will also be invaluable if you want to work on some of the writing yourself, but might not have the same writing credentials. A novelist might be great at dramatizing your story, but may possibly be less skilled at interviewing. So think carefully about which experience best fits the book you want written. 

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The next step is to determine which writing style is most suitable for you.

The best way to check a ghostwriter’s skill, of course, is to dip into a book that they have written. A good writer will usually offer to share a couple of previous books for reference. Have a read of these and have a think about the style of writing. Does this read like someone you want to work with? 

Screengrab of a business and self-help focused ghostwriter's portfolio

Make a note of which publishers the ghostwriter has worked with: that will usually give a steer as to their quality. Look also for relevant experience in your prospective genre. If you are looking for someone to write a memoir , what sort of similar books have they worked on previously? 

That said, not all ghostwriters are immediately forthcoming about which books they’ve worked on. There may be any number of reasons for that 一 for example, they may have signed non-disclosure agreements, which stop them from revealing who they’ve worked with. I’d personally take this discretion as a good sign rather than something to worry about: in a way, those ghostwriters who showcase the books they’ve worked on are sometimes the ones to be concerned about. Would you feel comfortable to see your own book highlighted in a similar way? 

If you can’t find which books a ghost has worked on, simply ask. With my own website , I have no mention of any of my ghostwriting books, but once I am in conversation with a potential client, I will share a confidential document outlining my experience. If possible, it can also be worth asking someone in the business about their skills 一 for example, an editor that has worked with them previously, if you can track them down. 

Now that you have identified the type of profile you’re looking for, it’s time to get in touch. 

Hopefully by now, you’ve been able to fine tune your shortlist. I usually find with projects that there are two or three other ghosts in the bidding: I’d similarly come up with a list of three or four and rank them in order of preference (though don’t necessarily tell the potential ghost that, unless they’re the top of the list!)

🙌When you use platforms like Reedsy to reach out to ghostwriters, you can filter their profiles by genre, language, and area of expertise, and request quotes from five professionals simultaneously.

Screengrab of Reedsy's marketplace showing a list of professional ghostwriters

What happens next is perhaps the most important point in the whole process: meeting the potential ghostwriter for the first time. This is crucial in getting a sense of whether you connect with the ghost and feel that they are someone you can work with. 

Setting up a meeting before you agree on a collaboration is important for both parties: if that connection or chemistry isn’t there, then however experienced the ghost might be, they’re probably not the right fit for you. I’ve come out of these meetings where I’ve both been turned down and also where I’ve turned down the potential client. That’s for the best and when this happens, there should be no hard feelings on either side.

Being a ghostwriter involves building a close and sometimes revealing relationship. I’ve written a lot of memoirs and clients have told me all sorts of secrets over the years: some that end up on the page, others kept between ourselves. A client is only going to give you that information if they feel comfortable and relaxed in your company. Similarly, you’re only going to tell all to a ghostwriter if you trust them completely. Go with your gut here 一 if it doesn’t feel right, then choose somebody else.

⭕ Consider a ghost's comfort level when writing or discussing difficult or sensitive topics. Check out David Wichman’s story about working with an open-minded Reedsy ghostwriter.

As with any interview, turn up prepared to ask the right questions. In particular, ask the ghost about the working relationship. How much time do they have to work on the project? How long will it take them to complete it? Explain how involved, or not involved, you want to be in the process. The ghostwriter will ask questions back 一 when they do, gauge their reaction to the book. Do they sound genuinely interested, or are they going through the motions?

It may not always be possible, but these meetings work best when they are in person. I think you get a better sense of the individual face to face than screen to screen. It’s also a good sign as to how flexible the ghostwriter is if they agree to meet up. If they can only meet on a Zoom call, then they might not be as committed to the project as you need.

Finally, you’ll need a final proof to verify that they’re the right person for the job 一 a sample of their writing applied to your story. 

The final piece in the jigsaw is to see if the ghostwriter can capture your voice. They might talk the talk, but can they capture how you speak and feel on the page? The only way to check that is via a trial session. Depending on your preference, you can ask for a couple of pages or a whole sample chapter. 

A writer holding a page draft

Sometimes this can come from the initial meeting: I’ve done this, where I’ve recorded a short section of an interview to go away and work on. On other occasions I’ve done this via a second meeting or via material presented or available, such as previous interviews and writings. 

This sampling process doesn’t need to be particularly long, and you may need to pay for the ghostwriter’s time, but it is well worth doing. It’ll either give you confirmation that your instinct from the initial meeting is correct, or that you need to go back to someone else on your shortlist.

If everything feels right, you’ve found your ghostwriter! Hopefully they’re as excited about working with you as you are with them. All there is left to do before starting work is to agree on a fee: to help decide that, you might want to take a look at our next post in the guide on the cost of hiring ghostwriters .

Tom Bromley

12 responses

Dennis Briskin says:

18/07/2016 – 21:43

Several things to add: Hire someone you can respect and defer to. You are a first-time buyer, with all that implies. The ghost has sold these services many times before and knows better than you what works for the contract, the book outline and editorial decisions. The ideal is to treat the ghost as an expert collaborator who shares your goals. (Many highly successful and wealthy clients have difficulty being around someone who knows more than they do about something, especially writing, which triggers being back in school with "the smart kids.") "You get what you pay for" if you are lucky. There is no direct correlation between quality and the fee. Comparing writers accurately and fairly is impossible, as are most things involving judgement not measurement. (Superlatives are the worst way to think.) Find someone who appears capable at a price you are willing to pay on a schedule that works for both of you.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

20/07/2016 – 13:34

These are all good tips, thanks for the additions :) "You get what you pay for" tends to be relatively accurate when you deal with experienced professionals, as their fees will depend both on the time they spend on each project, and on the existing demand for their services — both relatively good indicators of their quality and experience. Of course, if you don't go through a curated marketplace like Reedsy but search for ghostwriters on Google, you might end up with someone charging a ridiculous fee while having little ghostwriting experience. But with a bit of due diligence this should be easily avoided.

↪️ Toni Robino replied:

25/09/2016 – 19:45

Hi Dennis, thanks for your comments! I agree. :-)

Laurence O. McKinney says:

24/09/2016 – 01:42

I set up a starting-out writer friend with a bunch of experts to help his first book, but once published, Knopf wouldn't push it. We stayed in touch as he complained bitterly about staying in a hotel, conferencing with a Detroit executive, writing his bio for a flat fee ($40,000 and it took well over a year) and this was what it had come to and we commiserated. Of course that was Iacocca, and Bill Novak went on to ghost Tip O'Neill, Nancy Regan, and The Mayflower Madam - and others. Most writer self-ghost all the time; I think it was Fitzgerald who said writers have a tough time because we fictionalize our pasts so often for one purpose or another we can't always remember the real version.

25/09/2016 – 19:47

Hi Laurence! I have a great deal of respect for William Novak. Most of the ghosts I know have paid their dues in one way or another. I only made $10k each on the first two books I ghosted, with no royalties and one of them is still selling, 20 years later. Live and learn!

betta says:

23/12/2016 – 02:22

great tips here, but really... should ghost writing be that expensive?? $10,000? I hired for a far lesser amount and i am proud of what I got. I believe cheap does not necessarily mean poor quality

26/12/2016 – 09:34

I like your article and all the tips are on point. One is always looking for the best.Hiring a professional writer to write for you is not easy. Trust is the key component which cannot be build within a day or two.One should always look for the qualities that a ghost writer should possess being a professional in this particular field. I've recently hired ghost blog writer ( for my blog. So far I'm satisfied with their work. One of the best things about their professional blog writers is that they involve me in the process of blog creation from the start which makes it easy for me to comment and share my ideas. The end result is always up to mark.

26/12/2016 – 12:01

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Noah, and your recommendation for a blog ghost writer.

22/06/2017 – 19:28

Noah, I'm happy to hear that your experience has been positive!

Brian Penny says:

01/08/2017 – 01:27

Why do these articles always focus on ghostwriters for books? Blogs are the way people share information these days, not books. Here's a guide specifically for ghostbloggers:

ghost writingindia says:

10/08/2017 – 11:42

Entirely great post. I just unearthed your blog and needed to state that I have truly delighted in perusing your blog entries. Any way I'll be subscribing to your sustain and I trust you post again soon. for more information regarding ghost writing please visit to us.

Laura B Sherman says:

20/03/2020 – 21:04

You make a lot of really good points. I'm forever trying to tell people that they don't need to meet a ghostwriter in person. Even if I live near the client, we always work via phone and email. It's just much easier. I also really appreciate that you suggest that the client PAY for the writing sample or trial run. That's perfect and a very good solution. Thank you for your article!

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What Is a Ghostwriter?

Rachel Meltzer

Ever wonder how James Patterson can churn out so many novels each year? Or how Carolyn Keene keeps producing Nancy Drew mysteries ninety years after the first one was published? Maybe you’ve seen CEOs with a few productivity books and wondered how they had time to write them. 

You’re not alone. It might come as a surprise to you, but there are thousands of books that weren’t written by the person credited as the primary author. That person had some help from another writer, a ghostwriter. 

Consider this your complete resource for information on ghostwriters. In this guide, you’ll learn all about ghostwriting, how to become a ghostwriter, and some famous books that have been ghostwritten. 

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What is a ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter is hired to write works that officially credit another person as the author. Typically ghostwriters sign a contract with the credited author that requires them to keep their work confidential, often through a nondisclosure agreement. 

Usually, a ghostwriter won’t be credited at all. But if the credited author does want to shed light on their ghostwriter’s work, they may acknowledge them as a researcher, research assistant, or cowriter, often at the end of the book. 

The works created by ghostwriters can be any type of published writing, including the following:

  • magazine articles 
  • autobiographies
  • literary prose
  • screenplays
  • comic books
  • religious texts
  • academic and medical papers

Why do authors use ghostwriters? 

Ghostwriters help an author by making the writing process more manageable and producing work more quickly. They’re often hired by celebrities, corporate executives, consultants, news witnesses, political leaders, and other notable people who want to create written material. There are many reasons why someone might want to hire a ghostwriter.

The two most common reasons are that they don’t feel they have the writing skill set to produce a book or article or they don’t have the time to do it. 

Public officials use ghostwriters for many reasons, primarily to save time and sound more eloquent. They hire ghostwriters for everything from official correspondence to autobiographies, speeches to policies. Celebrities often hire a ghostwriter to help them craft a memoir or autobiography . Such publications can be another stream of revenue and publicity for them.

Famous writers sometimes hire ghostwriters to keep producing work when they don’t have the time, ability, or interest to continue writing themselves. In some genres, like romance, young adult fiction, and action, publishers establish a single name and hire ghostwriters to create novels under that pen name. Action novels credited to Tom Clancy, the Jason Bourne series, Goosebumps , and the Nancy Drew series are all ghostwritten, for example.  

How common are ghostwriters?

Ghostwriters are probably more common than you think. Because of legal paperwork, it’s hard to know precisely what percentage of writing is ghostwritten. 

There are thousands of ghostwritten books out there, dating back as early as the fourteenth century. It’s not an uncommon practice; it’s just rare that you see behind the curtain. Ghostwriters are often required to keep their work secret, and most credited authors don’t want to share this information. 

Ghostwriting as a career

Many ghostwriters specialize in “disappearing” into the writing style readers are familiar with. They’re talented impersonators who can mix their ideas, tone , and word choice with those of the person for whom they’re writing. For those who possess this unique camouflaging skill, ghostwriting can be a lucrative career. 

As with any career, becoming a successful ghostwriter takes time, practice, and persistence. But once you’re a few years in, you’ll be able to charge a decent rate for your work. Plus, you’ll get to spend hours interviewing interesting people or creatively crafting stories. 

How to get a job as a ghostwriter

There are many paths one can take to become a ghostwriter. Of course, you’ll need to know how to do the type of writing you’re offering before you can get hired. The first step to starting any writing career is establishing a portfolio of things you’ve written, like manuscript drafts, or blog posts. 

You can start finding work on a freelance job board, get hired by an agency or publisher, or start an independent business.

How much do ghostwriters get paid?

There are a variety of ways to get paid as a ghostwriter. Pay depends on the length of the text, the source of the work, the ghostwriter’s experience, and the client’s notoriety. You might charge a flat fee or an hourly, per word, or per page rate; you might accept a percentage of royalties or advances or take a combination of payments. 

On average, ghostwriters make between $40,000 and $70,000 for a 30,000-word book if they work directly with a publisher. But if you’re working freelance, you might make around $15,000 for a shorter book. Some romance publishers pay just $65 per story. At the other end of the range, an experienced ghostwriter can earn from $100,000 to $250,000 per book—especially if they’re writing for a notable public figure. 

Ghostwriting vs. copywriting

From a high level, it makes sense that some people confuse copywriters and ghostwriters. Neither copywriters nor ghostwriters often get credited for their work. 

The difference between ghostwriting and copywriting is style and project scope. Copywriters are typically tasked with creating marketing materials, the words on product packaging, directions, and company or organization materials. Ghostwriters usually craft narrative work, whether it’s a fictional or a true story.  

5 ghostwriting examples

1   the count of monte cristo .

Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo (1846) was ghostwritten. It’s estimated that at least half of the book was written by Auguste Maquet, a historian and an author. The two met by way of Maquet’s literary connections. Dumas wrote more than 100,000 pages of work in his career, but he didn’t do it alone. Maquet worked with Dumas from 1838 to 1951. 

2   The Nancy Drew series

The beloved mystery series, which debuted in 1930, has always been attributed to Carolyn Keene. The series is actually written by multiple ghostwriters. The publishing industry calls this practice book packaging . Several writers are contracted to create a series of books under one pen name. The publisher creates a source of truth, outlining characters, voice, setting, and other basics that writers like Alice Leonhardt (a ghostwriter for the series) follow. 

3  James Patterson

How does one author publish over two hundred titles in twenty-six years? Ghostwriters. Patterson is a world-renowned author of action, romance, and young adult novels. He’s been co-writing his books since 2001. While this is not a secret, there is some debate about whether this practice is considered ghostwriting or co-authoring. 

4   The Pursuit of Happyness

Chris Gardner wrote his 2006 autobiography with the help of the writer Quincy Troupe. Troupe was California’s first poet laureate and was also a literature professor at the University of California, San Diego. 

5   The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

One of the most popular self-help and business books was written by ghostwriter Ken Shelton. Published in 1989, the book explores credited author Stephen Covey’s step-by-step process of bringing principles of integrity, human dignity, and fairness to daily life. Shelton is an author in his own right, creating leadership books and speaking at conferences. 

Ghostwriting FAQs

A ghostwriter is hired to write works that officially credit another person as the author. They’re often hired by celebrities, corporate executives, consultants, news witnesses, political leaders, and other notable people who want to create written material.

What do ghostwriters do?

Ghostwriters write books, outlines , plotlines , and other materials based on the specifications of, or in collaboration with, the credited author. They sometimes work off of interviews with the author or an outline provided by the author. 

Why are ghostwriters used?

Ghostwriters help authors and other influential people, like celebrities and political figures, efficiently create a cohesive book or written piece. Ghostwriters are usually hired to save time or to help a credited author articulate their ideas or story.

wow ghost writer

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  • ghostwriter

or ghost writ·er

a person who writes one or numerous speeches, books, articles, etc., for another person who is named as or presumed to be the author.

Origin of ghostwriter

Words nearby ghostwriter.

  • ghost story Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ghostwriter in a sentence

ghostwriter , a hacking group linked to Russia and Belarus, has been seen targeting Ukrainian politicians and military personnel—but the group has so far failed to achieve any meaningful success.

In an announcement early Monday morning, security officials at Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said they’ve “seen increased targeting” of Ukrainian social media users by a hacking group that researchers refer to as “ ghostwriter .”

The group, known to security researchers as ghostwriter , has been linked to Russia.

Hummel worked as a Wonder Woman ghostwriter for the next three years, long before any woman was publicly credited as a writer for the series.

The ghostwriter , or the named writer whose contribution is never really spelled out or fully credited, might be the most exploited of all the talent in the publishing process.

Last time I saw Johnny, he was picking a ghostwriter for his book.

Literary blogger Harriet Post takes notice, and immediately attempts to track down his clearly very talented ghostwriter .

He's widely believed to have been the ghostwriter of the Balfour Declaration.

She is a former ghostwriter who has worked on the memoirs of several high-profile politicians and journalists.

Blair shunned the services of a ghostwriter , and penned the book himself in between various political and business engagements.

Bow Wow Reveals Ghostwriters He Has Worked With Over The Years

From T.I. & Jadakiss to Da Brat & Kurupt, Bow Wow reveals who has written for him over the years.

Bow Wow Reveals Ghostwriters He Has Worked With Over The Years

As he gears up for the upcoming releases of his mixtape Greenlight 6   and his album Edicius , Bow Wow sat down with Genius to speak about his career as a whole. Having been in the entertainment business since he was a kid, Bow has been around the industry for nearly his entire life. With  G6  set for a release on May 21, it will be intriguing to see how Bow Wow adapts to the next chapter in his career. Not shying away from a topic that most people would avoid, Shad spoke to Genius about the use of ghostwriters and, in particular, who has written for him along the course of his trajectory.

Not dancing around the topic, the interviewer goes straight into asking who has written for Bow Wow over the years, to which the star honestly responds. "Kurupt wrote my first song ever." Bow continued, "[Da] Brat, [Jermaine Durpi] of course, my man Slim from Queens." The rapper noted that, while he was hosting 106 & Park in New York, he was so busy that he didn't have time to get into the studio. In turn, he called Jadakiss to write about ten songs for him. Before closing out his sentence, he remembered that T.I. has also worked a lot with him, apologetically stating, "How could I forget Tip?"

With the many commitments that Bow Wow has had in his career, it is no surprise to hear that others have helped him with the writing process. Bow Wow's first songwriting experience came with "Basketball," he revealed, unreluctantly sharing details that many other artists would decline to speak of. Check out the full video below and take a guess at the "big dog" Bow Wow mentions that has been prominently using ghostwriters.

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Guide: How to Hire a Ghostwriter to Write for Your Blog

James Parsons

Do you remember back in the early 90s? There was a TV show called Ghostwriter . It was a children’s mystery show, where a group of friends solved mysteries and crimes throughout the town with the help of a friendly ghost. The ghost knew more than the kids, but could only communicate with them by manipulating text around him.

Well, a ghostwriter for a blog is absolutely nothing like that. The term ghostwriter originated centuries ago , and may be even older than that. Mozart was famous for being a musical ghostwriter for wealthy patrons in the classical era. It’s far from a new process, and it’s not limited to writing. Andy Warhol used a similar process for producing art.

What is a Ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter, at least in terms of a blog, is just someone who writes content for you without putting their name on it as the author . They sell the content to you, and you can use it as you wish. In a way, it’s exactly the opposite of working for exposure; the ghostwriter gets no exposure from the content they write, they simply make money from it.

Place an Order on a Content Mill

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it probably is. A lot of content I’ve written about hiring writers, such as from content mills , involves a ghostwriter relationship. It’s very common in the blogging space, and I can guarantee you that you’ve read a lot of content written by ghostwriters rather than by the people who have their names attached to it. A lot of big-name business owners use ghostwriters, after all.

Ghostwriters vs. Freelancers vs. Hired Writers

So, what’s the difference between a ghostwriter and a freelancer, or between a ghostwriter and a writer you hire?

Writing Illustration

In general, it comes down to three things: pay, attribution, and relationship.

  • A ghostwriter generally writes for money and nothing else. They don’t care about attribution, and in fact, many ghostwriters have very small or non-existent portfolios because most of the content they write is under someone else’s name. Some pursue ongoing relationships with specific clients, while others are content to write whatever comes their way, no matter who is ordering it.
  • A freelancer, meanwhile, can be a ghostwriter or a writer who has their name attached to the content. Freelancer simply means someone who works on a contract or gig basis, rather than on a hiring relationship. Ghostwriters are freelancers who don’t attach their name to content. Other freelancers do. Freelancers who ask for attribution generally cost a little less, because they get the benefit of having their name on your site and building their portfolio pieces up.
  • A hired writer, meanwhile, is an employee. Whether you have them attach their name to your content, or you hire them as an ongoing ghostwriting position, depends on your own company and relationship. Most of the time, a company hiring a writer as an actual employee will use their name as the person writing content, but that’s not always the case.

The moral of the story is that, other than a ghostwriter, the definitions are very flimsy. A ghostwriter is simply someone who writes content for you without attaching their name to it or retaining the rights to it.

That’s it. Everything else is bells, whistles, and slight variations in job descriptions.

The Pros of Hiring a Ghostwriter

Now let’s talk about the various pros and cons of hiring a ghostwriter to produce content for you. There are a lot of both, so I’m divided this up into two sections. First, the pros.

 The ghostwriter brings talent to the table. Ghostwriters are often quite talented at the actual writing aspect of their craft. So why are they ghostwriters instead of professional bloggers themselves? The self-promotion, the website development, these kinds of skills aren’t part of their wheelhouse. Maybe they don’t want to learn, maybe they’re making plenty of money without it, who knows. They’re good at what they do, but what they do is often relatively narrow.

Reviewing Content

A ghostwriter is rarely going to be a blog manager for you. Often, they don’t even want to come up with the topics they write; they just write what you tell them to write. They’ll write excellent, well-researched content, but they aren’t going to be doing the topic ideation, keyword research, and other legwork necessary to run a blog.

 You save time on writing when the ghostwriter is doing the work. The number one reason most bloggers hire ghostwriters is so they can save time and spend that time doing something else. You aren’t making sales calls, growing your business, or networking when you’re writing a blog post, after all . Writing can take quite a bit of time , and every hour you’re spending doing the writing is an hour you could have been spending on something that further grows your business more immediately and directly.

How Long to Write a Blog Post

You don’t have to worry about anything the writer has written in the past. When hiring a writer who will have their name attached to your site, you want to look into what they’ve written in the past. You want to avoid people who have written negatively about you or people who have written problematic content, or people who have a history of being abusive or discourteous. A ghostwriter doesn’t have these problems. Maybe they’ve written something negative about you, but you’ll never know it because their name isn’t attached to any of that content. Their reputation can’t reflect poorly on you if no one knows who they are, right?

 Ghostwriters can adapt to whatever process you want to use. Do you want to give them a keyword phrase or a title and let them go to town? Great! Do you want to have them write an outline or a draft to send to you before finalizing a project? That works too. A ghostwriter can often adapt to just about any process you want to use, to ensure that you get the best content for the best results you can.

The Cons of Hiring a Ghostwriter

Of course, the ghostwriter relationship isn’t always the best choice when you’re trying to get blog content written. Here are a few of the cons of hiring a ghostwriter.

Difficulty Finding Writing Employee

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 Finding a good ghostwriter can be difficult. Ghostwriters by definition don’t have their names attached to any content that they write, so you can’t simply identify the person writing content you like and approach them. They often don’t have well-optimized sites or portfolios either. It can be surprisingly difficult to find a good ghostwriter.

 Ghostwriters tend to be more expensive than a writer who gets attribution. Since they aren’t getting that exposure and they aren’t going to line up more clients through you, they’re going to need to charge you more so they can live. A ghostwriter of equivalent skill will cost more than a freelancer, though some freelancers leverage their existing reputation to charge more than they perhaps deserve. It’s a widely varied industry, though, so this can be hard to pin down entirely.

 Ghostwriters can express expertise you don’t have. If your ghostwriter writes a post about how you’re an expert in, say, fishing for salmon, they’ll do it with authority. If someone gives you a call and asks you about your advice for salmon fishing, and you have no idea what to tell them, that hurts your reputation. A ghostwriter can write a well-researched and authoritative article on just about anything, but to a certain extent, you need to know what they’re talking about so it doesn’t come back to bite you.

 If you need to switch ghostwriters, your content voice can suffer. Two different ghostwriters can have two different writing styles, and while they’re both good, the shift between them can be jarring if you’re publishing their content under one name. Some bloggers get around this by using fake names for contributors to their site, but that can have its own set of problems.

 Some people have a negative opinion of ghostwriting as a practice. While in an ideal world, no one will ever know you’re hiring ghostwriters, it can still come out. In some cases, it can even hurt your reputation. Will it be devastating? Probably not. Will it be a hassle? Probably.

Content Rights and Ownership

One thing that people often question with ghostwriters is who owns the rights and ownership of content in the business relationship.

Creative Commons Illustration

With a ghostwriter, it’s generally pretty simple. The ghostwriter provides you with the content, and you provide them with money. You’re buying what is generally known as a "full rights" license to the content. That is, it becomes yours; you can edit it, you can publish it, you can attach your name to it, and generally treat it as your own. The ghostwriter can’t claim the content as their own, because they sold the rights to you.

Now, this isn’t necessarily the default. You may need to explicitly draw up a contract for both you and the ghostwriter to sign to make this explicit. Without the contract, the writer may still own the copyright to the content they wrote, even if you paid to use it. This can be quite a tricky situation to navigate if it comes down to it, and may end up involving legal action. Better, instead, to draw up the contract.

Luckily, a contract doesn’t need to be too long or difficult to create. Here’s an example .

Step by Step Hiring a Ghostwriter

Hiring a ghostwriter can be a tricky process primarily because of one detail mentioned up above; they can be hard to find! A ghostwriter isn’t exactly advertising themselves, most of the time, so you need to find them before you can hire them.

Step 1: Find the ghostwriter. You can do this through a variety of different channels. You can visit content mills and try to poach writers, though they will be resistant because the mill rules generally forbid it, and some of them even censor communications between writers and clients that include contact information. You can ask other bloggers if they’ve ever used a ghostwriter, and ask for referrals. You can make a post on your site, on freelance hubs, on sites like ProBlogger , or even just on Craigslist, and let them come to you. However you do it, you need to build up a pool of candidates to be your ghostwriter.

Step 2: Interview your potential ghostwriters. You’ll want to ask for samples, and possibly test the writer to see if they can meet the level of skill you want. I wrote a more in-depth post about screening potential blog writers over here , most of the advice applies to a ghostwriter as well.

Screening and Interviewing Writer Candidates

Step 3: Work with the ghostwriter for a test or two. You want to see if the writer can perform up to your standards, so give them an assignment. I 100% recommend treating this as a standard paid assignment. Make a verbal agreement that you’re buying the content regardless of the quality, so they know they’re getting paid and that you’re not just taking the content and ghosting them.

If the ghostwriter produces high-quality content, without plagiarism, on deadline, and they’re up for working with you on an ongoing basis, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 4: Draw up a contract. As mentioned up above, by default, the person who writes a piece of content owns the copyright to that content. You need to create a contract for you and the writer to sign, that delivers the content and the rights to the content to you. It should, of course, also guarantee payment for the writer, and recourse if no payment is delivered.

Step 5: Maintain a long and fruitful relationship with your ghostwriter. In an ideal situation, you and the writer will grow together. You can pay them more for better content over time, and they can produce more and better content as they grow more familiar with you, your business, and your industry.

Of course, it’s always possible that you’ll grow apart and the relationship will drop. You’ll need to hire a new writer at that point and make the choice between keeping them as a ghostwriter – with the corresponding shift in voice – or hire a writer with attribution. The choice is yours.

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James Parsons is the founder and CEO of Content Powered, a content creation company. He’s been a content marketer for over 10 years and writes for Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, and many other publications on blogging and website strategy.

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February 04, 2021 at 7:17 am

What are your thoughts on the ethics of ghostwriting?

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February 05, 2021 at 10:44 pm

Hey Rodney!

Oooh, tough question.

I think in and of itself, ghostwriting is not unethical.

If an article is truly ghostwritten with zero input from the "author", I can see that being problematic. For example, if somebody asks you about an article you "wrote" and you have no idea of how to answer questions about it, that's not a good thing.

Most of the people I know who have articles ghostwritten for them give the writer a complete breakdown of what they want to talk about. They mention points they want to cover, articles they want to cite and the general opinion and direction of the article.

The opinion, direction, topic, and sources are all still unique to the person ordering the article - they simply hired somebody to help them expand on those points and fill in the blanks. I don't personally see a problem with that.

Just my two cents - it's a complicated subject. Thanks for asking such a tough question!

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May 29, 2022 at 6:15 pm

This is a great take on a complicated topic, James. I fully agree.

June 03, 2022 at 5:06 pm

Thanks, Patrick! Cheers.

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December 12, 2021 at 3:00 pm

Given all the pros and cons you've mentioned about hiring a ghost writer, can you recommend working with one if the person is just starting out her site?

December 22, 2021 at 1:09 am

Hi Patricia!

I don't see why not. The biggest mistake people make when they hire a ghostwriter is they take their hands off the steering wheel completely.

As long as you're actively directing, reading, and editing your content, it's hard to go wrong. You start running into trouble when things are published under your name and you haven't thoroughly read those articles from start to finish.

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February 20, 2022 at 2:30 pm

Great explanation

February 21, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Thank you, Amiral!

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September 20, 2022 at 6:46 am

Hi James! Thanks for a great article, this is the second time I've come back to it, and this is just the occasion to thank you.

I can say that the most important thing is to check the author for quality and reliability. In a large company this is handled by a whole department, which selects those who want to ghostwrite academic papers for other people. The author must have a scientific degree, as well as succeed in the test assignment.

It's a pretty big thing now, that ghostwriters write not only research papers, but even CVs and business plans for large companies.

October 07, 2022 at 7:53 pm

Wow, thanks Anke! I appreciate the kind words and sharing that advice with everyone.

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How to Become a Ghostwriter- A Step-by-Step Guide

Looking for a career as a ghostwriter or want to write for someone else but don’t know from where to begin your journey or what exactly is ghostwriting, and how you can pursue ghostwriting as a career well, the demand for ghostwriters is at its peak because everyone has a story to tell, but not everyone has that talent or skill to present their story to the world.  thus, the lack of skills but the desire to tell a story has created plenty of opportunities for ghostwriters. therefore, through this article, we will find out how to become a ghostwriter ..

How to Become a Ghostwriter

What is a Ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter is an author or a writer who writes for those who have stories to tell but lack the skill of writing or didn’t have confidence in their writing skills . A ghostwriter is a person who is also known as a freelance writer who uses his or her writing skills for someone else’s work.

Mostly ghostwriters write on the behalf of famous personalities like actors, business owners, etc. A ghostwriter writes without any credit. As a ghostwriter, a person always remains behind curtains but surely makes money.

Why is Ghostwriting Different?

Ghostwriting is a way different from other types of writing. Ghostwriting means writing for someone else. Unlike other writings, ghostwriting is all about someone else’s idea and story. Ghostwriting is a type of writing which can adapt others’ way of presenting the story.

Ghostwriting is not something that will give you fame as an author but it will surely amp up your skills as a writer. Ghostwriting pushes you to write outside your comfort zones. Since ghostwriting is so different, many people try to find out how to become a ghostwriter.

Career as Ghostwriter

In India, Ghostwriter has come to light due to the trend of freelancing writing. Most ghostwriters are considered or are more known as freelance writers. But yes, now being a ghostwriter has become a fruitful career.

Ghostwriters work for online content, blogs, speeches, nonfiction and fiction books, and proposals. Mainly the need for ghostwriters is more among famous public figures which include athletes, politicians, and musicians, etc. Anyone who lacks time and wants to publish their book hires ghostwriters, especially for writing biographies and memoirs of famous personalities.

wow ghost writer

Salary of Ghostwriter

The salary which a ghostwriter can earn depends on the content he or she writes. Mainly ghostwriters are hired to write a book that ranges from INR 5 lakhs to 10 lakhs if you are providing high-quality content. Someone who writes decently can earn up to INR 2 lakhs to INR 4 lakhs.

Since the world of ghostwriters is anonymous, they write a book, and later they don’t even claim copyrights of the content they had written. Therefore instead of recognition, ghostwriters can fairly demand a good sum of money.

Benefits of being a Ghostwriter

There are many benefits to mention while discussing how to become a ghostwriter. Since ghostwriting is all about learning different genre writings, as a ghostwriter, a person opens up a door of more skills and creativity which later a ghostwriter can use for his or her book.

1.    Gaining more Knowledge and Experience

As a ghostwriter, you will explore every possible way, which sets your writing skills to stand apart. If you are passionate about writing, then becoming a ghostwriter will be beneficial for you. As a ghostwriter, you work for different people, which helps you to gain a different perspective as a writer.

Listening to others’ stories will give a boost to your imagination and creativity. Being a ghostwriter, it becomes your responsibility to understand the client’s way of narrating a story so that your writing can match the client’s standards.

Becoming a ghostwriter is like diving into the ocean of the writing field, where you have to adapt according to the needs of clients. Ghostwriting is like adding others’ touch to your work.

2.    Exposure to the Wide Audience

A ghostwriter is always a person who remains behind the curtains and no one knows which work belongs to the ghostwriter. But sometimes being a ghostwriter becomes a back door for opportunities for you.

Once your written book becomes a bestseller, then your demand between storytellers becomes high. You will be able to reach a wider audience and readers. Maybe your name will not be on the bestseller, but you will surely gain fame among the clients who have a story to tell.

3.    No-fuss about the Promotion of the Book

Working as a ghostwriter, you only need to focus on your content. You don’t have to worry about the promotion of the book. You don’t need to make any social media posts and announcements regarding the book. Your client will look after his work’s engagement and promotion.

4.    Saving your Emotions for Your Work

Being a ghostwriter, you work for other clients, or you can say that you create content as per the requirements of the customer. Since the story, the topic, etc are provided by the client which makes your work more flexible and easier; you don’t have to drain yourself by pouring your emotions into that work which saves your emotions for your work, where you usually have to bear your inner soul.

As a ghostwriter, you become specific about your priority and whose work you have to put first and foremost. Since you are getting paid as a ghostwriter, you will put your client’s work on top and will manage time for your writings.

Once in a while, your little distance from your work helps you to think with clarity. On the other hand, when you come into your ghostwriter mode, you find new and more creative ideas for your work.

Now after learning what a ghostwriter and career are, the salary and benefits of a ghostwriter, let’s find out how to become a ghostwriter.

How to Become a Ghostwriter?

Well, starting a new journey in any field is never easy. From where one should begin his work becomes a challenge, especially in this highly competitive world. Becoming a ghostwriter is also a challenge where you push your limits and try to write out of your style and way.

But becoming a ghostwriter can be a great choice for your writing career. It will not only make you money but also enhance your writing skills. If you want to know how to become a ghostwriter, then you should remember that you should be aware of the qualities which will help you to start your journey as a ghostwriter. So let’s have a look at those qualities or the skills of a ghostwriter.

1.    Master Your Craft

Writing is the field that asks for hard work, no shortcuts, only hard work. This hard work will pave your path towards your successful career in ghostwriting. With hard work, you can master your craft by practicing writing and reading.

Reading is a gateway that opens your door to the world of imagination, so as a writer, reading habits should be included in your daily routine. On the other hand, write daily. For writing, you can start with blogging, and then you can go for self-publishing your book. If you are good at speaking, then you can also start your podcasts.

The main point is that before writing under someone else’s name, write for yourself under your name. First, establish yourself as a writer and get reviewed by the readers, which will help you to become better. Then you can choose to ghostwrite.

2.    Have a Strong Network

It’s important to have contacts and a network through which you can connect with the customers and the readers. Before hiding yourself behind the curtains after becoming a ghostwriter, it is important to let other people know that you are working as a ghostwriter.

For that, you can add about your ghostwriting services in your profile which will help the people who are seeking ghostwriting services to find you. You have to make yourself visible on social media as a strong network helps you to reach wider customers. You should know how to market your ghostwriting business.

3.    Level Up Your Interview Skills

Becoming a ghostwriter is not about having the skill of writing, but you should also know how to communicate. As a ghostwriter, you need to talk for hours with the credited author, which is like taking an interview where you listen to their stories and plan the book story step by step.

As a ghostwriter, you need to be a good listener too so that you do not skip any details. Interviewing your clients helps you to understand their narrative style and the messages they want to convey through their book. This communication needs to be maintained throughout the whole process of writing.

Many times, you will find yourself communicating again and again with the credited author to make sure you are following the author’s instructions. So yes, if you are interested in learning how to become a ghostwriter, you should know how to communicate or interview your clients to meet their expectations.

4.    A Big No to Your Ego

When you work as a ghostwriter, you need to keep in your mind that you are working in that field, where you will get acknowledgments and appreciation for your work, but you will not get recognized.

Sometimes doing something for someone and not getting acknowledged hurts our ego, and if you are a ghostwriter, you can’t bring your ego into your work because you may not get recognition, but you are getting paid. You are working for someone, and you need to adjust your writing style according to your clients without thinking about how much better you are than your client.

In this field of ghostwriting, your name will never appear on the covers of a book, so make yourself comfortable with the fact that your written book can become a national or international bestseller, but your name will not be there in the print. So, if you are ready to write for someone else without letting your ego get hurt, then you have already learned how to become a ghostwriter.

5.    Maintain Self Discipline

When you work for someone, you get a deadline to complete that work. One should have the ability to work to deadlines while managing other projects too. Usually, ghostwriters get a minimum of 6 months to complete a book. Well, self-discipline is one of the qualities which a person maintains as a writer.

An established writer writes daily in his or her own comfortable time, but when it comes to writing for the customer, a ghostwriter has to complete that work by the given deadline without any excuses.

As a ghostwriter, your self-discipline shows your professionalism. Many ghostwriting projects take a year to complete and ultimately lose their charm. So if you can stop procrastination and can do your work seriously without losing the quality of your content, then you know how to become a ghostwriter.\

6.    Don’t Neglect Your Writing Style

Being a ghostwriter doesn’t mean that you have to give up on your style of writing. Before a ghostwriter, you are a writer who started writing in your writing style.

Since when you want someone to hire you, you first show your best-written samples. That’s where your writing style plays a very important role to get you the project. Writing for someone can earn you a great sum of money but writing for yourself in your way brings you peace which doesn’t let that writer in you vanish.

As a ghostwriter, you have to incorporate others’ styles in that project which should not make you forget your unique way of writing. Sometimes clients choose your way of writing over theirs. So it is important to keep your writing style alive to become a ghostwriter.

7.    Be Clear About Your Projects

When you start your journey as a ghostwriter, make sure to have clarity about your projects and the documents related to them. Since many ghostwriter projects take years to complete, before signing any contract, always check the paperwork of your project through the lawyer. By taking this precaution, you keep yourself and your clients safe.

8.    Keep a Record of Your Payments

As a ghostwriter, you earn a good amount, especially for your long-term projects. But long projects take time to complete and sometimes these long projects also get discontinued by the credited author in the middle by breaking the contract. So ghostwriters need to take their deposit from time to time and keep a record of it. So that in future, you don’t get deprived of your hard work money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Which platforms provide the work to ghostwriters?

Ans. Many platforms provide work to ghostwriters like online platforms Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, and Linkedin. These platforms have high competition, but they provide you with international projects based on your experience. As a beginner, you may find it hard to make your place on these projects, but with time and hard work, you will be a successful ghostwriter.

Q2 . Which type of projects do ghostwriters get hired for?

Ans . Ghostwriters are available for every type of writing project. Many of the writers don’t use the word ghostwriter, but many of them do write the projects for someone else under the label of the editor, copywriter, and freelance writer. Most commonly, the term professional writer is used by many who do ghostwrite. Well, every ghostwriter has great command of some genre. Most ghostwriters get hired for writing nonfiction like biographies and autobiographies.

Not only nonfiction, but ghostwriters also write novels, plays, and plays for the theater. Small write-ups like blogs, speeches, and articles are also written by ghostwriters. Many ghostwriters also write content that is related to business like web pages, brochures, etc. Even academic papers are also written by them.

Q3. Is ghostwriting legal or ethical?

Ans . Yes, ghostwriting is legal as per the law. Ghostwriting is an emerging career that is widely accepted by everyone. As a ghostwriter, you write content on one condition that you have to write anonymously, where you will not get any credit, but you are getting paid for that service which makes this field legal and ethical.

Like every business and every work, ghostwriting has its terms and conditions. Well, not everyone thinks that ghostwriting is ethical because it is like taking the credit for someone else’s work but in reality, ghostwriting is a collaborative work of the credited author and the ghostwriter where the consent of both the parties is given which doesn’t make ghostwriting completely ethical.

Q4. How to become a ghostwriter, if you are a beginner?

Ans. If you are someone who is a beginner in this field, then you must start by making your portfolio which should include your skills and experience. Then build your network so that you can connect to the people who want to hire ghostwriters.

Make a strong social presence and first establish yourself as a writer by publishing your work so that you can provide samples to your clients. You can make your profile on online platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and freelancer. Another most important thing is that you should sharpen your skills and should maintain self-discipline which is an important quality of a ghostwriter.

Here we come to an end to the steps of how to become a ghostwriter. Ghostwriting is a flourishing career that gives you a great experience as well as great earnings. We hope that this article will guide you on how to become a ghostwriter.

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Todd Alexander, Blaze Berdahl, Mayteana Morales, Tram-Anh Tran, and Sheldon Turnipseed in Ghostwriter (1992)

A group of kids solves local crimes, capers, and mysteries in their neighborhood, with the help of a ghost who can only communicate through writing and words. A group of kids solves local crimes, capers, and mysteries in their neighborhood, with the help of a ghost who can only communicate through writing and words. A group of kids solves local crimes, capers, and mysteries in their neighborhood, with the help of a ghost who can only communicate through writing and words.

  • Pamela Douglas
  • David López
  • Blaze Berdahl
  • Todd Alexander
  • 26 User reviews
  • 2 Critic reviews
  • See more at IMDbPro
  • 1 win & 1 nomination

Episodes 75


  • Alex Fernandez …

Blaze Berdahl

  • Lenni Frazier …
  • Rob Baker …
  • Jamal Jenkins …

Marcella Lowery

  • Grandma Cece Jenkins
  • Tina Nguyen …
  • Gaby Fernandez
  • Hector Carrero

Shawn Elliott

  • Mr. Fernandez …
  • Calvin Ferguson

Richard Cox

  • Max Frazier
  • Casey Austin
  • Gaby Fernandez …

Afi Bijou

  • Jasmine Michaluk …

Mike Hodge

  • Lt. Isaiah McQuade …
  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

More like this


Did you know

  • Trivia According to Blaze Berdahl 's (Lenni Frazier), Facebook page, co-star David Lopez (Alex Fernandez) was her first boyfriend.
  • Connections Featured in Everything Is Terrible! Presents: The Great Satan (2018)

User reviews 26

  • Jul 20, 2002
  • How many seasons does Ghostwriter have? Powered by Alexa
  • Why did Craig disappear after joining the Ghostwriter team? Why did we never see him again?
  • October 3, 1992 (United States)
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA (Exterior)
  • Children's Television Workshop (CTW)
  • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro

Technical specs

  • Runtime 30 minutes

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    Here are several steps to take when you decide to become a ghostwriter: 1. Read often. Most writers read a lot, and they read everything. Ghostwriters need to learn to write in a variety of tones and styles. This means they may need to write everything from popular contemporary literature to online blogs.

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    Ghostwriter. The popular demand for Tom Clancy 's action novels exceeded his ability to write new books. As a result, his publisher hired ghostwriters to write novels in the Clancy style. A ghostwriter is a person hired to write literary or journalistic works, speeches, or other texts that are putatively credited to another person as the author.

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    Step 2: Interview your potential ghostwriters. You'll want to ask for samples, and possibly test the writer to see if they can meet the level of skill you want. I wrote a more in-depth post about screening potential blog writers over here, most of the advice applies to a ghostwriter as well.

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    Ghost book writers are unsung heroes of the literary world, breathing life into the stories of others while staying in the background. They skillfully adapt their writing styles, collaborate closely with authors, and create compelling narratives that captivate readers. With their expertise, ghostwriters contribute significantly to the ...

  22. How to Become a Ghostwriter- A Step-by-Step Guide

    If you are good at speaking, then you can also start your podcasts. The main point is that before writing under someone else's name, write for yourself under your name. First, establish yourself as a writer and get reviewed by the readers, which will help you to become better. Then you can choose to ghostwrite. 2.

  23. Ghostwriter (TV Series 1992-1995)

    Ghostwriter: Created by Pamela Douglas. With Blaze Berdahl, Sheldon Turnipseed, David López, Marcella Lowery. A group of kids solves local crimes, capers, and mysteries in their neighborhood, with the help of a ghost who can only communicate through writing and words.