What is a ghostwriter?
A "ghostwriter" is an author who writes texts on behalf of a person or a company. This can be blog articles, speeches, presentations or novels and reference books.
The texts of ghostwriters - or "ghost writers", as literally translated from English - have one thing in common: the name of the author is usually not mentioned. On the Internet, articles often do not list the author's name. On books there is either a fictitious name or another person posing as the author.
The phenomenon already existed in antiquity. So-called logographers, the "scriptores orationis", wrote speeches for the Caesars in ancient Rome, and ghostwriting is also common in music. Mozart already knew how to use his musical talent and composed pieces of music for well-heeled clients.
In what areas are there ghostwriters?
Ghostwriters work in many subject areas and industries. Celebrities as well as politicians have their speeches and books written by ghostwriters. You probably know one or the other celebrity who has written a novel or a children's book - the latter genre has become popular among celebrities in recent years. Often, the work is not or only partially from their own pen.
In the academic context, bachelor and master theses or dissertations are written by ghostwriters. Many students or doctoral candidates cannot write their thesis completely themselves due to time constraints. Here, however, caution applies: The border to plagiarism is very close. Therefore, the contents should be checked again.
Ghostwriting is also no longer unusual in the novel field. There are also authors here who have their book written. However, it is not known how many romance novels, thrillers, crime novels and science fiction books are ghostwritten, after all, the authors are not mentioned.
By the way, there are also well-known personalities among ghostwriters. For example, Heribert Schwan as ghostwriter of Helmut Kohl or Jon Favreau as speechwriter of Barack Obama.
How do I find a suitable ghostwriter?
Anyone who wants to have a book written usually turns to a ghostwriting agency or a self-employed copywriter. The problem with this is that, just like for authors or coaches, there is no training here either. That's why there are numerous providers on the market who call themselves ghostwriters and with whom you can have your book or e-book written. After all, anyone can write, right? Of course, it's not quite that simple. When choosing a ghostwriter, look for criteria such as experience, references and whether the chemistry between you and the ghostwriter is right.
Although there is no classical training, a degree in journalism or linguistics or in communication science provides a solid basis. Alternatively or complementarily, a ghostwriter should have experience. In the best case, he has previously worked in a publishing house, an agency or another field that deals with communication and texts.
Ideally, you will find text samples or references to published texts on the ghostwriter's homepage. If not, then ask for them. You can also have your book written by copywriters with less experience. Beginners can often get good deals. With an inexperienced ghostwriter, however, you should observe his or her work more closely than with professionals.
Not all text is created equal. Someone who can describe recipes in a cookbook is nowhere near capable of writing a science fiction thriller. Just as authors do, ghostwriters often seek a niche. They have gained their expertise through copywriting, education, or another profession. For example, a ghostwriter for cookbooks was a chef in a "former life" and the copywriter for "marketing" has worked in that career field.
What services are offered?
Does your ghostwriter do other services besides copywriting? Maybe he can write your book cover or design the book's typesetting create. Or do you just want to have your book written and take care of everything else yourself or use other services?
Important: Both editing and proofreading should never be done by the author. If you work intensively with a text, you will become "blind" to errors. This is normal and has nothing to do with a lack of competence. You should have the finished text proofread by a professional editor have it checked out.
As in many other fields, the so-called soft skills are important for a ghostwriter. These are personal qualities that cannot be acquired through professional training. In addition to characteristics such as reliability, seriousness and structured work, there are others that the ghostwriter with whom you want to write your book should have. These include the ability to conduct thorough research, perseverance and patience, a good grasp and the ability to quickly familiarize yourself with new topics. In addition, he should be empathetic and be able to put himself in the shoes of other people.
Is the chemistry right?
This point follows on from the previous one. Of course, no one would claim not to be reliable. A face-to-face meeting will give you an idea of the potential ghostwriter you want to have write your book. Ideally, you should meet him in person or have a phone conversation over messenger where you can see each other. After all, this is a large project and you'll be working together for quite some time. In this conversation, you can find out if the ghostwriter is open to your idea. There are people you can work with better or worse. It doesn't always have to do with competence, sometimes the chemistry isn't right. In this case, you shouldn't let him write your book, but find someone you feel comfortable with.
To get an idea of how the ghostwriter works, you can arrange a paid trial assignment. Let the ghostwriter create an exposé, for example. Then you can get an impression of his skills and reliability and take only a small risk at first.
There are a number of ghostwriting agencies on the internet where you can have your book written. These can usually offer lower prices than freelance ghostwriters. But for you and your ideas, you should not let yourself be guided too much by the budget, but find a copywriter who fits you and your idea.
Have a book written: What costs should I expect?
How much you have to invest in ghostwriting varies greatly from provider to provider. There are different billing models. You can agree on a fee per word or per hour or a flat rate. The price depends on the desired text form, the degree of difficulty, the scope and the time urgency. Academic texts are usually more expensive than recipe books, for example. For a good piece of work, you have to reckon with a certain budget. This can range from 1,000 euros to amounts in the five-figure range. Having a book written takes work off your hands, but means a lot of time for your ghostwriter.
For example, a 30-page bachelor thesis in the field of business administration at the "Agency for academic texts"1,428 euros. If it's just a synopsis or outline, the cost is still a few hundred euros.
Although a collaboration agreed upon by e-mail now has the same status, you should sign a contract with your ghostwriter. This creates more trust and commitment. The content of the contract should include clauses on confidentiality and exploitation rights. In case of doubt or specific questions, you can seek advice from a lawyer. In any case: Check contracts carefully in advance.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having the book written?
Aside from the writing assistance and associated costs, what are the pros and cons of having your book or e-book written?
- Speed: Writing is part of a ghostwriter's day job. He can probably write the book faster than you could.
- Professionalism: The end result is a high-quality and professionally produced text.
- Time: You can take care of other things around the book at the same time. For example, book typesetting, cover creation or the marketing.
- Risk: There is always a residual risk of receiving a poor and unprofessional text.
- Legal pitfalls: Make sure you check the contract carefully before you sign it.
- Loss of reputation: If the ghostwriter does not work conscientiously, you could risk your reputation. This is especially true for scientific texts, because universities scrupulously check submitted work for unclean scientific work. So watch out!
There is nothing reprehensible about having a book or e-book written. This service is older than many think and is now common practice among celebrities, politicians, coaches and experts in all fields.
If you decide to use a ghostwriter, don't underestimate the time you'll still need to invest in the book. The copywriter needs all the necessary information in a detailed briefing. You should also be available as a contact person during the writing process. At least one conversation over Skype or, ideally, in person will help you assess whether you're comfortable working together and whether the chemistry between you is right. Also, it doesn't hurt to have regular status calls during the writing process. Once you have checked the professionalism and competence of the ghostwriter as thoroughly as possible and you have agreed on a fair fee, you can let them write your book with peace of mind.