For most aspiring authors, there comes a time when they think, “@#$%&! This taking up a lot more of my time than I thought it would”. After weeks and weeks of writing, sitting in front of your computer trying to force the words out, you start to hear a voice in the back of your head, “Hire a ghostwriter” it whispers seductively.
Hiring someone to do the work that doesn’t bring you the greatest return on investment is a fantastic idea. Countless business coaches, gurus, and people smarter than myself all recommend that we outsource what we’re not good at, and for a lot of you, that’s writing. Why should you slog away squeezing out words at a snail’s pace, when simply hiring a ghostwriter can do it all for you?
Whilst that seems like a great option, hiring a ghostwriter can lead to more headaches. You’ve essentially turned a single project (“Writing a book”) into two projects (“Writing a book” and “Finding a good ghostwriter”). On top of that, you’ve then got to manage the ghostwriter like you would any other contractor, adding more stress to your life.
In this guide, we’re going to look at the ins and outs of hiring a ghostwriter. By the end of these 1,000ish words, you’ll be able to definitively answer the question, “Should I hire a ghostwriter?”
You should hire a ghostwriter if…
#01 You already have an extremely detailed plan
When you get down to it, the ghostwriter is simply a tool to build your book. You need to have created a detailed outline in order to give the ghostwriter sufficient direction for where you want the book to go, and the journey you’d like to take the reader on. When I say detailed, I mean detailed. Remember, the ghostwriter can only write what they think you want, the more vague you are the less likely it is that they’ll be able to accurately create your vision.
What most aspiring authors trip up on is the fact that they haven’t already spent the time building that plan for themselves. You need to break down your chapters into headings and sub-headings and under each sub-heading list a bullet point for each idea you want to be covered in that section. Without that, your going to waste a tonne of time directing and managing the ghostwriter and end up with a book you didn’t really want to write.
#02 You know exactly what you want
Writing a book yourself is a huge investment of money and time, but I personally know a number of entrepreneurs and speakers that have launched into writing a book without any sort of strategy. Considering how much effort goes into writing a book and hiring a ghostwriter, you need to know exactly what you want.
You need to know your:
- Target audience
- Intended outcome for the book
- “Voice” that you’d like the reader to “hear” e.g. conversational, millennial, authoritarian
- Rhythm of the book i.e. If you’re going to include guides, case studies or interviews, and what order they’ll go in each chapter
- Tone of the book e.g. humorous, serious, academic
If you don’t know what you want, the ghostwriter is going to have to guess. This tends to go poorly and leads to far more stress than is necessary.
#03 You’re happy to build the rest of the publishing team yourself
A common misconception with people that want to write a “publisher quality” book is that all you need to do is write the book. This is the reason why “self-publishing” doesn’t have the same reputation of going with a traditional publisher. Assuming that you’ve got a detailed plan of the book, and assuming you know exactly what you want, the ghostwriter is going to take around six months to create… the first draft.
This isn’t to discredit any ghostwriters out there, the writing will be solid. However, if you’re serious about making an impact in the world with your book, you’re going to need to go through several rounds of editing in order to make your book the best it can be… so you’re going to have to go through the hiring process again. Asking your friends if they know a good editor, sending out countless emails for quotes and reading through potential editors previous projects. Once you’ve found an editor, you’ve then got to find the cover designer, and a designer for the book’s interior, and then a proofreader, and then someone to format the book for digital publishing, and then and then and then.
But it doesn’t stop there.
If you’re looking for a major publisher to publish your work, you still need to build a social media team, a PR team, build a following. Major publishers hate risk, so they need to know that your book is going to at least make it’s money back.
You shouldn’t hire a ghostwriter if…
#01 You’re looking for a cost-effective option
Ghostwriting takes a lot of time to do well. As someone that used to be a ghostwriter, here’s the process that I (and most other ghostwriters) used to ensure that the work we created was to a hire standard and kept the author’s voice:
- Research every communication that business has put out
- Interview the person extensively to figure out idioms and phrases that they consistently use
- Write what I thought they wanted
- Rewrite after they’ve read it through and asked for changes
- Rewrite it again after they’ve read it through and asked for changes
- Repeat steps 4 and 5
As a result, it’s an incredibly time-consuming process and therefore is why it costs upwards of £10,000 to hire a good ghostwriter. If you’re looking for a premium ghostwriter, you can double, triple, or even quadruple that figure.
#02 Authenticity is paramount
The fact of the matter is that when you hire a ghostwriter, it’s their words on the page and not yours. It’s your ideas and you’ve created the outline, but you haven’t actually written the book. Books are incredible as they allow you directly into the mind of the author, once you hire a ghostwriter, that idea is tainted. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can you imagine that someone comes up to you and says, “I loved what you wrote about _____” and you have no idea of what they’re talking about?
When I was a ghostwriter, I worked hard to emulate the voice of the person I was writing for and no matter how many hours I put in or how much time I spent with that person, I could never capture their essence with my words. Premium ghostwriters can and that’s why they charge the big bucks. Now, when I help entrepreneurs, property investors, and speakers produce books, I’ve developed a system that literally and figuratively captures their voice. My clients know what’s in the book inside and out because all of the content came from them.
#03 You want the book published quickly
As we previously spoke about, simply hiring a ghostwriter isn’t the end of the process. You’ve still got to get the editing done, get the cover designed, and sort out the minutia of publishing a book. When that’s all said and done, you’re looking at a timeline of a year to 18 months. Hiring a ghostwriter will save you the time it takes to write the book, but that time you’ll then need to use of sorting out the rest of tasks you need to do to become an author.
Your next steps
Whether or not you choose to hire a ghostwriter or not is up to you. Whilst hiring a ghostwriter will save you time on the actual writing of the book, you still need to bear in mind the rest of the publication process. Ghostwriters are a great resource, if you’ve got a clear a vision about what you’re looking to write, how you want it written, and who the book is being written for. If you’ve never written a book before, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is thinking “The ghostwriter will just do it for me”. They can’t. All they can do is help build your vision.
Think about it like someone trying to build a house, they attempt it for a few months before deciding to hire a builder. They tell the builder, “Build me a house,” so the builder builds what they think this person wants. Now, imagine the same scenario but this time the person tells the builder, “Build me a 4-bed house, with an en-suite bathroom in the master bedroom, fit a modern kitchen, and build it in the style similar to the rest of the houses on the street”. Naturally, the builder will create a home more in-line with the vision of the client.
Here’s a recap:
Hire a ghostwriter if:
- You’ve got a detailed plan: This means being specific about what you want to include in each chapter, right down to the sub-subheadings
- You know exactly what you want: You understand your audience, what you want them to do, how you want to tell them to do it, what the outcome you’re looking for, and why you need a book written in the first place
- You want to build a publishing team: The ghostwriter is just one part of your publishing team, you still need to hire editors, designers, and people that will help you distribute your book
Don’t hire a ghostwriter if:
- You want to be cost efficient: Good ghostwriters cost a lot. If you’re looking to create your book in a more cost-efficient way, look for other solutions (like StoryWand)
- You want to be truly authentic: It’s your book, it’s going to have your name on it, you’re going to have to market it and tell the world “this has my heart and soul in it”
- You want it produced quickly: To produce a high-quality book takes a whole team, getting a ghostwriter to produce the first draft and doing the necessary edits (remember you still have to go through the edits yourself) takes a huge amount of time
Thank you for reading. Now, I have a solution for you that means you could be a published author within 6 months. If you’re looking for:
- An authentic book that’s a true representation of you
- A complete publishing team
- Help with building a precise marketing plan
- Clarity with your book’s vision
- A cost-effective option
Click the button below to book a call with me and discover how you can share your message with the world.