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What Is A Ghostwriter & When Should I Hire One?
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Ghostwriters are individuals who provide a writing service at a paid fee to a client. A client may request to have any type of content written, such as an article, manuscript, website content, SEO or blog, to name but a few.
Ghostwriters work anonymously and are paid for their effort and time but do not take any credit for the work written on behalf of their client. Most ghostwriters operate strictly under NDA where the terms, conditions and compensation are stipulated and agreed upon, and signed by both the client and the ghostwriter.
The client (author) who receives credit and royalties for the work completed on his / her behalf by a ghostwriter is indicated as the sole-owner and creator of the work, and not the ghostwriter hired by the client.
THE PROS & CONS TO HIRING A GHOSTWRITER
Though the practice of hiring a ghostwriter might seem strange, it’s common in the world today. As a matter of fact, manuscripts (as well as many popular books of fiction), such as the biographies or memoirs of most well-known public figures, are written by ghostwriters. You might think it strange and impossible, but after 12-years in the industry of writing and publishing I’ve stood witness to several well-known authors who do not write their own books.
The art of writing is not for everyone and takes time to master. Furthermore, the skill to create a ‘good book’ or ‘excellent website content’ is often a difficult and tedious process, that few individuals know how to successfully execute. Other times, a well-known author is to busy with book tours, book promotion and marketing to fit in the time to write the next book in their series.
Individual who want to share their unique story with the of the world, but do not enjoy writing or don’t have the time to do so, hires a ghostwriter to do the writing on their behalf.
Ghostwriters are accustomed to many different writing styles and can be hired to write website content, articles for a business, or even blogs. Since it is basically a freelance profession whereby the client could hire the ghostwriter for a specific task, and once the task is done, the contract between both parties is complete.
Today, freelance ghostwriters are often the go-to source for quality work, depending on what you are willing to pay of course. The more professional and accomplished the ghostwriter, the more expensive a ghostwriter’s fees will be.
WHO HIRES GHOSTWRITERS?
Even well-known authors make use of ghostwriters, not only businesses. Sometimes the author might share some credit with the ghostwriter by means of acknowledgement in their book, but this is not a compulsory part of the agreement. Ghostwriters are paid to deliver professional content as per the client’s direction, nothing more.
THE TOP 5 ADVANTAGES OF HIRING A GHOSTWRITER
- #5 – Fast Turn-Around Time – As writing is usually the main focus of a ghostwriter’s work, it becomes the main focus of their time as well. Not having to oversee a business or work with people, ghostwriters often produce content in a shorter amount of time.
- #4 – SEO Utilization – Anyone that owns a website might have come face to face with message after message that their ‘SEO’ is not up to scratch and needs improvement. A large part of online content writing today consists of Search Engine Optimization. Few business owners, founders, startups, brands or individuals have the knowledge or time to write SEO. There as just as few qualified, SEO writers who are accustomed or like writing SEO.
A SEO ghostwriter who specializes or understands SEO knows all the tricks of the trade. Having SEO optimized content on a website help customer find a client’s website more easily via improving their overall visibility and website ranking on search engines.
TIP: Hire a professional SEO ghostwriter who is well-trained or versed in writing SEO content. SEO is not cheap if you want quality and results.
- #3 – They Offer Content That is of Value – As much as a lawyer understands the law, ghostwriters are experts in the field of writing that they specialize in. Some ghostwriters are ‘do-it-allers’ in that they can write on almost any non-fiction or fiction topic, while other prefer to hone their skill in a specific genre, such as Romance Fiction Writing.
Ghostwriters understand that every piece of writing requires a different writing style, and should be in according to the clients requirements. They also need to be able to create content in the voice of the author, and have the knowledge to create a well-structured, high-grade piece.
- #2 – Drafts – Ghostwriters use what you give them and write up a draft for you. It is then the task of the client (author) to provide feedback and improvement suggestions to the ghostwriter. Their job is in fact to bring your idea to life.
- #1 – You Can Focus on Your Work – Rather than worrying about creating SEO optimized content for a website or writing a biography, clients can focus their time on their business or hobbies, while the ghostwriter does the heavy lifting.
THE TOP 5 DISADVANTAGES OF HIRING A GHOSTWRITER
- #5 – Research – Ghostwriters research all the information needed for the piece you want so that they can write accurately for you. The problem is that you are not the one doing the research, which could have been beneficial to your own personal growth or to ensure the research is of the quality you require.
- #4 – Cost – Ghostwriting is a service provided to you, thus the cost of the matter will be a factor to consider, especially if you want to hire a quality writer. Many ghostwriters require an upfront security deposit, which can be on average 25 – 60% of the total quotation.
- #3 – The Original Idea – Even though ghostwriters live off of writing, the original idea will always be yours, and they will not be able give you exactly what you envisioned. There is always that little gap between what you imagined and what the final product is going to be.
- #2 – Keep It Confidential – Even though ghostwriters are common place today, some people still see ghostwriting as a form of fraud, which is unethical. You do not want people to see your company, brand or author identity as such, so using a ghostwriter should be a private matter for you. Always have your ghostwriter sign an NDA beforehand.
- #1 – Unprofessional – Another reason to keep the use of a ghostwriter private is that some might think you are unprofessional when they hear you did not write the material yourself. This is not a comment on you, as many people are not confident in their writing, or simply do not have the time.
Cost varies from country to country, the type of ghostwriter needed, specialty, qualifications, but most of all, experience. The below chart is estimates according to data and statistics for an advanced to senior ghostwriter with 5+ years experience. Junior to intermediate ghostwriters are tiered at about 25% – 50% of the values below. It is though, recommended to hire an advanced or senior ghostwriter if you are writing a book of great importance, such as your memoir.) Values indicated below are averages:
United StatesPer Word / Hour
$0.10 - $1.00
$25 - $ 70
United KingdomPer Word / Hour
£ 0.15 - £ 0.35
£20 - £40
AustraliaPer Word / Hour
$0.10 - $1.00
$25 - $ 70
New ZealandPer Word / Hour
$0.10 - $1.00
$25 - $ 70
IndiaPer Word / Hour
INR 0.7 - INR 71
INR 1405 - 7026
CHART: ADVANCED TO SENIOR LEVEL GHOSTWRITERS (5+ YEARS EXPERIENCE)
The fees your ghostwriter charge will always depend on the ghostwriter experience, skills & prestige. Furthermore, there are some excellent ghostwriters from 3rd world countries who may also charge rates similar to USA / EU ghostwriters.
AVERAGE TURN-AROUND TIME
Considering an average of 500 words per page, you can estimate the turn-around time, (depending on the writer’s experience), as:
- 500 words: 12 – 24 hours minimum for a 1st draft. Another 12 – 24 hours for a 2nd draft. And then an additional allowance of 12-24 hours for a final draft.
Since each ghostwriter is different, the time allowance and turn around can vary. Turn-around time greatly depends on a ghostwriter own unique approach and work ethic, as well the amount of research involved.
It is best to consult with your ghostwriters about turn-around times before entering into an agreement. During my 12-years of experience, I have found the following minimum and maximum time-frames to apply:
- Per 5,000 words: Min: 3 Work Days – Max: 10 Work Days
- Per 10,000 words: Min: 5 Work Days – Max: 20 Work Days
- Per 20,000 words: Min: 10 Work Days – Max: 30 Work Days
- Per 30,000 words: Min: 15 Work Days – Max: 45 Work Days
- Per 40,000 words: Min: 1.5 Months – Max: 3 Months
- Per 50,000 words: Min: 3 Months – Max: 12 Months
- Per 60,000 words: Min: 4 Months – Max: 14 Months
- Per 70,000 words: Min: 5 Months – Max: 16 Months
- Per 80,000 words: Min: 6 Months – Max: 18 Months
- Per 100,000 words: Min: 8 Months – Max: 22 Months
THE AVERAGE REVISION ALLOWANCE
It is important to note that you will not be allowed revision upon revision or editing of your manuscript by a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter is a ghostwriter, not an editor. They can only write your work to the best of their ability, with most ghostwriters allowing anything from 1 to 3 revisions or improvements on the work they submit to you. Once a manuscript is also complete, you can not request amendments or revision after a set period of time, usually 1-month.
A ghostwriter may charge additional fees for extra revisions or amendements outside of your contracted Agreement. It is always best to establish the amount of revisions before the contract start, and to include this information in the contract.
WHEN SHOULD YOU HIRE A GHOSTWRITER?
- #3 – Can’t Write – If writing is not your forte, rather hire a ghostwriter. As the client, you will still receive credit as the author of the work, as well as any royalties originating from it if you publish.
- #2 – Time – There are situations when deadline after deadline piles up and you do not have the time to write the blog you were assigned. This is when a ghostwriter can be useful.
- #1 – Style – As said before, writing styles do differ from task to task, thus when you are not acquainted to the writing style necessary for the task, a ghostwriter is the solution.
TOP 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK A GHOSTWRITER BEFORE HIRING
- #5 – Price
How much is your ghostwriting services for a blog on the topic of X. Word count of XI?
- #4 – Time Frame
I have a word limit of minimum X amount of words; how long will this it take to complete?
- #3 – What is covered
What does your service provide and include? Ghostwriting and some editing? Or is there more?
Do the extras cost more or are they included?
- #2 – Research
Will you, or your agency, be able to find all the needed information and be able to do all the research, or do I have to provide the information?
- #1 – Drafts
Is there a set amount of drafts that you supply before the final product
Do you do the main editing of the drafts, or will I receive a final draft that I need to have professionally edited?
NOT INCLUDED IN A GHOSTWRITER SERVICE
- #3 – Translation
Most ghostwriters are not equipped with the skills to naturally translate work, using online translators themselves when information is not given in their own language. Thus, translation is not one of the services a ghostwriter naturally provides. If they do, expect to pay an additional fee as translation is not part of ghostwriting.
- #2 – Editing
Ghostwriters are not and should not be the editors of their own work, since they are most often not objective enough. Furthermore, formal proofreading and editing to ready the work for publication is the duties of a professional editor and not included in a ghostwriting service. Hiring an external editor to ensure the quality of the final draft will depend on the client.
- #1 – Research
Yes, a ghostwriter will do research for you as part of their writing process; however, a client does not receive the research files / documents the ghostwriter used. The final draft from the ghostwriter is the final product the client receives.
AFTER HIRING A GHOSTWRITER
- #1 – NDA First
Both the client and ghostwriter first has to agree to all terms and conditions, payment, payment schedule and delivery dates before any work is completed. Ensure to sign an NDA & full ghostwriter contract first. (That goes for both ghostwriters and clients.)
- #2 – Quality Communication
Though it might sometimes look that way, ghostwriters are not magicians or mind readers. They don’t know what vision or outline you have for your book. You’ll have to tell them. This might happen over several consultation calls, most often paid for by the hour (unless consultation hours has been worked into the contract fee by your ghostwriter).
- #3 – Outline
An experienced ghostwriter will start with an outline first after consultation to ensure the manuscript and content is inline with your needs. Both client and ghostwriter should review the outline before official writing on first chapters start.
- #4 – Continued Support
It is important to keep be involved in the process of writing your manuscript. Though the writer will be doing the writing for you, you will need to provide insight into your perspective and ideas so that the writer will know what to write.
If content writing is not for you, then a ghostwriter can help take your idea to realization and providing you with well-written quality material for whatever purpose you may need. Keep in mind what your vision is and a ghostwriter will help you bring it to life.
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