Amazon Bestselling Ghostwriter, Book Coach, Book Doctor and Copy Editor

Hi, I’m Karen Cole. While I’m a professional book writer, this matters to you as a newbie or even as a published book author: I am an Amazon bestselling ghostwriter, well known within certain published circles. I work with select newbie clients for only $6,000 to $20,000, and up to $50,000 USD (for other members of our team) per 50-400 page manuscript. We work for less for editing, book doctoring, coaching, and development projects, not the hugely gouging amounts of $60,000 to $200,000 most other name ghost writers command for their flat out expensive ghost writing services. But what matters most of all is exactly how you are going to prepare, distribute and sell your next book, whether you need ghost writing or only editing services from me. It can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

This is due to the fact books often sell as widely as they used to in the good old days. It’s just largely a change in how books are presented to the public anymore. The modern book market churns out millions of 99 cent ebooks every year. Many printed copies start out at $15 or more, but it’s only a matter of time before their sales drop dramatically. It takes about one year for this pitfall to occur, potentially a mere six months. So you should strategically arm yourself with publishing market knowledge, researching every accessible method of getting your book together and out there in front of the public eye.

As an Amazon bestselling ghostwriter who no longer works with celebrity clients, just ordinary people like you and me, I can still give you plenty of samples related to people who don’t mind sharing their info. Just review my portfolio at the My Samples tab on our Ghost Writer, Inc. website. When you visit there, you can also research the anonymous work of our other ghosts, under the Our Samples tab. And you can fill out our Contact page by clicking the link below. Check out the whole site:


You will see that I have accumulated a 15+ year long career as a book ghostwriter and editor; plus by scanning our entire website, you can see how I run a team of 130+ book, screenplay and music field related ghosts, editors, marketers, cover artists, publishers etc. If you don’t want to hire my services or need other ones, just ask me about things! We can find you exactly what you need, no matter the problem. The only one we can’t solve is working for free, or for on spec / percentage payments. All of us work for upfront pay, so do keep that in mind when requesting our services. A few of us still do celebrity books for on spec, but this means books that are extremely likely to make a huge profit.

I can help you swiftly at a nice pace, or slowly assist you in creating a memoir, fiction, nonfiction or other related project – as a name bestselling ghostwriter who has plenty of work displayed on Amazon, Smashwords, various other Internet sites, and other planetary venues that will blast, blare, whisper, provoke, tease, tantalize or spontaneously play to the audience of your strongest and most rational desires, hopes and expectations.

I can’t guarantee any million copy bestseller status. That isn’t how it’s done in the traditional publishing industry. But I can help you dream big, aiming even bigger, or we can simply find you an easy way to get your work out to the general public – in a manner suited to your liking. This will forever involve strict professionalism, courtesy and confidentiality on each of our parts. You will work closely with us, and we will work closely with you, in all cases.

Your book will be your own, under your published name, or it can also be shared with me or one of our team members on your book cover. This gets nowhere near precluding pay – be prepared to spend sporadically focused large amounts of time, money, sweat and effort on your book, screenplay, music and related projects when working with my company. I will not rest until you are published somewhere, so your book will always find a home with Ghost Writer, Inc. We are on the Internet under that name – Google me!

So tell me what you think: hire an Amazon bestselling ghostwriter today. Rather than being sorry, you will have embarked on the thrilling adventure of a lifetime…no matter what happens, including the magically appearing smile of a sudden overnight success!

What to Look for in a Ghost Writer

What to Look for in a Ghost Writer

By Karen Cole

what to look for in a ghost writer

Having a great, expert professional ghost writer create your content could be helpful for most people. In fact, you will find the help of a ghost writer to be wonderful, because they can provide all the content that you need. The truth is that ghost writers are usually highly experienced writers who have spent years honing their craft. Most of them have bachelor’s degrees in English, while others simply have plenty of natural writing skills. Ghost writers are hardworking writers and editors, and their strong skills on researching can get you the content that you need. Of course, not all ghost writers are capable of helping you, and that is why looking for the right ghost writing services is very important.

What to look for in a ghost writer:

  • Experience

You want to look for professional ghost writing experience in this industry. Ghost writers are usually highly skilled, but it is good to know that they have real experience in order to get the best possible content. Usually those who have no experience do not know what it is like to follow instructions well. Taking the time to ask about any ghost writer’s types and amounts of experience can be very useful.

  • Degree

It is not required to hire a ghost writer with a degree – they can be more costly to hire. However, you will find that investing in a professional ghost writer who has a bachelor’s degree is a good idea. They will know how to the conduct proper research, with the right spelling and grammar being used in order to get you the well-written article or book that you need. The process of looking for a ghost writer will take some time before you are able to get an adequate ghost writer, but you will find the time needed to be worth it in the long run. You can ask about a ghost writer’s degree or experience.

  • Proper Grammar and Spelling

A ghost writer’s use of correct grammar and spelling is important. If they ghost write articles that are formatted incorrectly, you will surely have problems. Ask for a sample of their ghost writing, to see how good of a writer they are. You can always ask them for more samples to see if their ghost writing suits your interests. Usually the writing will be good enough, but it is best to see a variety of their ghost writing styles so that you can review whether they work well for you.

Looking for adequate professionalism in a ghost writer can be tough. Each and every one of them is different in their own way. While there are many ghost writers out there, you will find only a short number of them to really be good. Carefully go over each ghost writer’s writing, and you will surely find and hire the correct ghost writer.

Bestseller Freelance Ghostwriter

Reggie Karen and Angela


With team of over 100 professional ghost writers, editors and marketers

Writing Tips for Inexperienced Writers and Authors

By Karen Cole
Words: 500

Hopefully I know what I’m talking about, as I have some 30+ on and off years as a freelance writer, and nearly equal experience as a ghost writer and editor. Anyway, here goes: you need to worry, first and foremost, more about your readers than about your own needs. And furthermore, you need to worry about the markets for your work, if you’re planning on ever selling any of it, far more than about your desires, unless you really feel that this involves “selling out” in some way.

A lot of people, in fact, are able to meet both their own needs as writers or authors and the requirements of their publishers, agents and marketing teams. But it helps, really, to know that you have something that is salable material, something that people will want to buy and read. You don’t want to rip off “Star Wars,” for example – a lot of people think they can bank on a craze such as the Twilight saga and capitalize on it. You need to truly offer your readers your own marketable, original material – the more original the better.

Genre writing such as vampire books may sell really well, but you have to add an original twist of your own, such as the teenage vampires twist offered by the Twilight series. This means brainstorming up your own original ideas. And please be aware that very few people make it into the “best seller” category, especially in the fiction market. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Instead, research your potential writing markets, and find out what they appear to need first, before you even set pen to paper. That way, you will be able best to figure out your audience and what they’re looking for.

It also helps to attend book fairs, writers’ conventions and writing seminars. Those are places where you can meet literary agents and publishers, and find out what they are looking for. You don’t have to let other people entirely determine your writing style, but it really does help to know a lot more about what people in the field are looking for before you really commit yourself to a potentially time-consuming and difficult writing project.

And lastly, do what you can to get published. This can be done quite easily sometimes; for example, you can self-publish what you think will probably be a popular book, pay to promote it or market it yourself through bookstore and library signings, maybe even touring the country to get it around by word-of-mouth – and then you have a published book. Once it’s sold a great deal of copies, you can then probably land a commercial publisher who will be willing to take over the marketing and promotions. A double win!

GHOST WRITER, INC: Karen Cole is an affordable book ghost writer, copy editor, proof reader, rewriter and book author with a team of 100+ writing field and book / screenplay workers, some of which are New York Times best-selling authors. We do inexpensive marketing, promotions and publishing or optioning assistance, and we have contacts with literary agents, commercial publishers and literary or film field professionals. We also offer ghost writers for music and composition, such as rap music and other genres, and we have ghost writing for Facebook and Twitter as well.

Writing a Book on Your Own

Writing a book on your own

Ghost writers are the best people to look for if you plan to create a book. The truth is that writing a book on your own is tough work. The time that it requires to write anything could be lengthy for many people. Ghost writing services are everywhere, and taking advantage of such services makes for an easy time getting the content you need. Many website owners, ebook creators and even Kindle authors find that ghost writers can be helpful to them when getting their books created.

The benefits of ghost writers:

  • Saving time

Time is of the essence. You can save so much time by simply getting a ghost writer to do it all for you. Their expertise will enable you to succeed and get a nice book written in record time. Obviously you need your time to finish other things, so investing in a ghost writer can be profitable in the long run. It is be a time-consuming process that can be made much easier by a ghost writer with experience.

  • More depth

If you are trying to create a magazine, newspaper, website or book on a topic you aren’t so familiar with, then a ghost writer who knows how to research will be able to write it for you. Even if they do not know the topic well, they know how to research effectively in order to write about it with depth and knowledge. These people are professionals who will not only enjoy writing for you, but give it their all – as long as they are paid.

  • Faster turnaround

If you have a new book that you would like to create, then you know that deadlines have to be met with most publishing companies. They want quality work as soon as possible. With the help of a ghost writer, you won’t need to go through the process all alone.

  • You still get the credit

Even though you may never get the chance to write your book, you still get all the credit for what your ghost writer provides for you. It is vital that you also let them know not to take credit for any articles they may ghost write for you, and to not distribute them in the future. The point to hiring a ghost writer is that you get the credit, not them!

Simply asking for a ghost writer’s professional help can prove to be very useful. You can save time, and stretch out your heavy work load. Ghost writers have some of the best experience out there, and you will find that their help is going to be worth the investment. Simply take your time when it comes to looking for a ghost writer, as finding the right people is important – as usual, you get what you pay for.

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Remember, only one “w” in rainbowriting!

SEO Ghost Writing and Editing

By Karen Cole, Book Manuscript Ghostwriter and Editor, Affordable Ghost Writing Services

Search Engine Optimization SEO SEO Search Engine Optimization

Writing articles is often done by ghost writers, as well as many other works such as books, screenplays and eBooks. Knowing how to ghostwrite by using SEO, or search engine optimization, is primary for those who write articles and eBooks. It really helps the writing to “get found” by search engines. And SEO for Google is paramount in todays’ overcrowded but Google-dominated search market. However, you shouldn’t only optimize for Google – even Google itself frowns deeply on that!

Mostly, you need to optimize for keywords. When writing anything, especially a website, with Google in mind, you must keep your keywords down to about three at most per page. And try not to overuse any keywords in your text copy. Google wants the page to have reader-oriented info, not search engine-oriented info. So bear in mind your readership when you’re having your text copy ghost written, as it needs to not be overstuffed with any of your keyword phrases.

It’s best to use bold and large type font for your main keyword phrases, only once per phrase if possible, on your text page. Then have the rest of your page written naturally, for the readers who will be going over it carefully. Lead them down the page with your offers of service. It can also help to use a form on your page where your readers can submit info and ask you for a free service, such as a white paper or other free document. Your ghost writer should be able to input such a form on your website.

When ghost writing articles, it’s best to avoid “keyword stuffing” when it comes, once again, to Google, and even MSN is getting concerned about that. MSN will be in the big picture, it’s speculated, more often now, so find out what their policies are on how they view website text copy. As for articles, keep each of your keywords down to 3-5% total at most per page. The best way is to hire a ghost writer who knows about Google’s algorithm changes and their Panda and Penguin update systems, so that your ghost writer will know how to optimize your articles and websites properly.

Lastly, have your ghost writer create several expert, professional articles about your business, ones which don’t mention you by name, at least not in the body copy, and press releases too. Spread these around the Internet on various sites, such as Ezine Articles, with links back to your business website. Your business name shouldn’t be in the article copy, but it can be in an About the Author resource box, and you can have the ghost writer give you credit as the “author” of each article so that the resource box leads back to your website.

GHOST WRITER, INC: Karen Cole is an affordable book ghost writer, copy editor, proofreader, rewriter and book author with a team of 130+ writing field and book / screenplay workers, some of which are New York Times best-selling authors. We do inexpensive marketing, promotions and publishing or optioning assistance, and we have contacts with literary agents, commercial publishers and literary or film field professionals. We also offer ghost writers for music and composition, such as rap music and other genres, and we have ghost writing for Facebook and Twitter as well.

How Much Does a Ghostwriter Cost?

By Laura S., member of the GWI writing and editing team:

One of the questions I hear the most is, “How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?” It is also one of the most searched for questions on the net.

The answer to this question really depends upon a few factors:

  • What do you want written?
  • What is your deadline?
  • How long is the piece?
  • How much do you value the quality of the writing?

The cost to hire a ghostwriter fluctuates greatly, but I can promise you, you get what you pay for!

It’s a good idea to propose a trial when working with a ghostwriter for the first time. You will need to pay for the service, of course, but in the end you’ll own the rights to the piece and can use it anytime.

I charge a dollar per word to ghostwrite. In the trial phase I allow the client to pick the word count and charge accordingly. If someone is writing  their memoirs, I might select a story from their lives and write it for them. Some clients ask me to write an essay or a blog article. Those few pages give a new client a good idea of what he or she can expect. And it allows me to gauge what pricing will make sense for the whole project.

WARNING: A lowball offer to write your book can sound attractive, but it is dangerous. I have met a number of prospective clients who made “excellent” deals hoping to save money, only to find they had to spend a lot more to have everything re-written. It’s frustrating for them and frustrating to the ghostwriter who has to take over the project. The client is usually not a happy camper. Every now and then you can luck out and find a writer who doesn’t know their true worth, but for the most part, you will get poor writing when you pay cheap rates.

Writers for hire fall into three main categories: cheap writers, mid-range professional writers, and high-end celebrity writers. The following is the best detailed answer I can give about the cost to hire a ghostwriter to write a full-length book:

  • Cheap writers can be found who will write a 100 to 200 page book for as little as $2,000. If this is your budget (and you’re a gambler by nature), your best bet is to find a student new to the industry. Please be careful that he or she is actually writing your book and not plagiarizing another writer’s work.
  • Professional writers will usually charge between $12,000 and $90,000 to write a 100 to 300 page book. This price varies depending on the writer’s level of expertise and the amount of work required for the project.
  • High-end celebrity writers are usually hired by actors, politicians, musicians and other famous personalities who will sell books just by virtue of their name. The writers for these celebrities are well-established authors with a lot of experience. They can charge $150,000 to $750,000 for a book. Sometimes more.

Most people recognize that they would like a mid-ranged professional writer. It’s a reasonable budget range for most people. A lot of time, energy and hard work goes into writing a book. An excellent professional writer will often spend up to a year researching, writing and editing a book for you. If you’re paying a fraction of the usual price, you often get a fraction of the quality.

If you have questions and need help, please don’t hesitate to contact me or another GWI writer or editor for a free consultation!

“When my partner and I decided to write a book, we interviewed many ghost writers. Some were very inexpensive, while others were too pricey for our budget. Laura wasn’t the least expensive writer, but we chose her because she was so passionate about writing. Laura went above and beyond our expectations. I am very pleased with all her work and will continue to use her for my future writing needs.” Edwin Carrion

Cheap Ghostwriters

By Laura S., member of GWI’s book ghost writing and editing team:

Thinking of hiring a ghostwriter, but don’t have a lot of money to spend? If your budget is extremely limited, you might be tempted to hire a cheap ghostwriter. Heck, even if it isn’t, why not try to save a dime? I can see the logic. After all, even the most wealthy people I know are frugal and smart with their money. That’s how they became wealthy in the first place! However, if you hire an ultra cheap writer, I can tell you from experience that you’ll most likely need to rewrite the book yourself or hire another ghostwriter, who will scrap the cheap version and start over.

I had a client who was wrestling with this very scenario. My bid for her book was within my normal range, but she was getting very attractive offers from other sources. Mine was average, but she had trouble ignoring one bid which came in well under $5,000! In the end, after she did extensive research and checked out my references, she opted to hire me. A friend of hers went the cheap ghostwriter route, taking advantage of the too-good-to-be-true offer.

My client was happy that she made the decision she did after she read a few chapters of her friend’s book. If you simply want 50,000 words strung together that you can throw up onto then by all means don’t spend more than a few thousand bucks. You won’t see a return on your money, but you will have your name on a book. For some, that’s all their looking for. I’ve been asked about my thoughts on hiring someone from a non-English speaking country. You might get lucky and find a gem, but keep a few points in mind:

  • English is not their native language.
  • They do not live and breathe your country and society.
  • The idioms and cultural nuances will be hard for them.
  • The writing quality might not be what you expect.

When you’re shopping around, you might find a ghostwriter in the U.S. who doesn’t know his or her worth. It can happen and they charge too little because they are desperate to work in this industry. Although they can sometimes write well, their business sense is a bit off, which can be reflected in your working relationship.

There is usually quite a bit of baggage that comes with the deal as well. Since you know they can’t make a living on the wages they’re earning from your project, they may not devote the hours needed each week to your project. It will take them 200 to 400 hours to complete your book, so make sure they will put in the necessary time on your project before signing with them. If they promise to write your book in two months, make sure you have a way to check for plagiarism.

Cheap ghostwriters might go that route to short cut the process, but there is software you can purchase to help you detect this criminal activity. Ghostwriters should charge somewhere between $15,000 to $60,000 to write a full length book (200 to 300 pages). The Canadian Writer’s Union has a minimum fee set at $25,000, so if someone bids $2,000, your “Spidey” sense should kick in. Cheap ghostwriters are usually not a good plan and can end up costing you more in the long run.

Laura S. is a professional ghostwriter and author. She enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction and is happiest when juggling multiple projects. She recently authored a book to introduce the next generation to the game of kings and queens. As a parent of three, and one of the top 50 women chess players in the United States, Laura wrote this book to teach any parent to teach any child, of any age, to play chess.

Ghostwriting Success

Ghostwriting Andrew Crofts

By Kelly J. – Ghostwriter for Writer’s Digest

I can still remember the first time I saw my byline in print. After years of writing articles, essays and short stories, I’d finally sold one—and had the magazine to prove it.

When I started writing books, the thrill was even bigger. I dreamt of the day when I’d fill an entire bookshelf with books with my name on them. I never considered ghostwriting. Why would I spend months of my life toiling away on someone else’s book? No thanks. I only wanted to write my own books, and that’s what I did.

I soon found, however, that the life of a book author wasn’t quite what I’d envisioned. I was working long hours, yet making less money than I had before, when I was writing only articles. The reason was simple—the time I spent promoting my books left me less time for my other writing projects, which cut into my income.

Then, I had the good fortune of being approached by a nutrition expert about co-authoring her book. I found I enjoyed collaborating with her, but the real payoff came when we finished the manuscript. As the lead author, she now had to start promoting it—but I was all done!

That was enough for me. I decided to pursue co-authoring and ghostwriting, and “my” next book was ghostwritten for a client. (Typically a “co-author” is identified on the cover, while a “ghostwriter” is never named or identified.) Today, most of my books are published under my clients’ names—and I’m making as much money working part-time hours as I did as a full-time freelancer.

You probably know that many celebrities and politicians use ghostwriters to pen their books. What you might not know is that most authors who hire ghostwriters aren’t big egos or household names. Instead, they’re professionals (think physicians, attorneys, financial advisers) who want to publish books to attract clients and establish themselves as experts in their field—but who lack the time and/or ability to actually write the manuscripts. They’re willing to pay, and often pay well, to get “their” books in print.

In the last couple of years, my ghosting projects have paid:

$20,000 for a 60,000-word health book
$15,000 for a 40,000-word business book
$12,000 for a 55,000-word memoir (The book had been written but needed reworking.)
$25,000 for an 80,000-word nutrition/fitness book of which my client wrote about one-third of the manuscript and I wrote the rest

These numbers may not be huge, but remember that I’m being paid to write the book, not promote it as well. Once it’s completed, which typically takes four to six months, I’m done. I can ghostwrite two or three books a year in addition to writing my own books and articles, which makes for a comfortable income.

An informal survey of other writers reveals similar fees. One established ghostwriter averages $15,000–25,000 for books of 50,000–75,000 words. Another just made $12,000 for a 30,000-word book. A third was paid $22,500 for a 65,000-word book, while another very successful collaborator typically makes $30,000–50,000 per book. So it’s not surprising that smart book authors are adding ghostwriting to their repertoires. “I ghostwrite for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the steady stream of revenue,” Marcia Layton Turner says. “I [also] find that, in most cases, ghostwriting is easier than authoring a book myself, because there is less research to be done: The client/author is generally responsible for providing background material or for pointing me in the right direction. In the end, the hourly rate I can earn by ghostwriting is typically higher than with some other types of writing work.”

And despite the perception of the writer toiling away in his lonely garret, many ghosts enjoy working as a team. “Writing tends to be such a solitary endeavor that ghostwriting allows me to collaborate with someone else and help them to bring their book dreams to fruition,” Melanie Votaw says. “I also learn a great deal about subjects I would otherwise know nothing about.”

As I hinted at earlier, another plus to ghosting, especially today, is that you needn’t worry about the size of your platform, or your ability to sell a book once it’s published. If your client is pitching a traditional publisher, only his platform matters—because as the author, he’ll be the one selling the title.

Want to know more about this lucrative field? Read on for a closer look at the skills you need to succeed as a ghostwriter—and at how to break in. You’ll also learn how to market those skills, what to ask potential clients, how to set fees and how to develop an efficient process for completing each project successfully.

Understanding Your Role
The first key to success as a ghostwriter is a clear understanding of your role in the process. Whether you get cover credit or not, you’re writing someone else’s book. That means being able to collaborate, and to set aside your own ideas about how to approach the book if your client disagrees with them. That’s why successful ghostwriters keep their egos in check. You may be writing the words, but the book itself is your client’s. And that means your client has the final say.

In addition to a collaborative spirit, you’ll need management skills. Depending on the project, you may be responsible for conducting interviews and research and keeping your client on schedule, in addition to writing the book itself. And when it comes to writing, you must be able to structure and organize material and capture your client’s voice.

As a writer, you likely already know something about the publishing industry. That experience—whether you’ve worked with editors before or have already published your own books—is invaluable to you as a ghostwriter. The more you know about publishing, the more you can assist your clients, whether they’re submitting their work or deciding whether to opt for self-publishing or pursue a traditional publishing contract.

Breaking In
Besides celebrities and subject-matter experts, everyday people who want to get books in print but lack time or ability also use ghostwriters in crafting everything from memoirs to novels to how-to guides. Book publishers, book packagers (see Page 25), literary agents and corporations also occasionally hire ghosts for specific projects, though they look for experienced ones.

You basically have two ways of getting ghosting work. The first is to search for posted gigs and go after them. Check sites like Craigslist (, and for listings of possible ghostwriting and co-authoring opportunities.

The second is to proactively spread the word that you’re a ghostwriter to potential clients. Make sure your website and blog specify that you ghostwrite. Mention it in your e-mail signature. You might also consider subscribing to a service like Publishers Marketplace (, $20/month), where you can promote your services and stay up-to-date on publishing news.

Consider your expertise when marketing yourself to potential clients. For instance, I specialize in writing about health, fitness and nutrition, and almost all of my ghosting work is for professionals in those areas. The idea is to start with what you know and let editors, story sources and colleagues know you’ve added ghostwriting to your repertoire.

I’ve found the best way to approach potential clients is with a letter of introduction, or LOI, describing your qualifications. While it helps to have published at least one book before you start ghosting for others, any experience writing and publishing articles and other shorter pieces can help you pump up your résumé to appeal to prospective clients.

Establishing Parameters
How you work with a particular client depends on the project, budget and time frame. For example, you may interview your client and write the book from scratch, relying on your notes; your client may write some of the book while you write the rest; or your client may provide you with background material that you use as a starting point. It depends on how much work your client has already done (and is willing to do) and how he prefers to work with you.

That’s why before you take on a project, you should know what the client’s expectations are—and exactly what you’ll be responsible for. “It’s important to know how the information will be given to me—i.e., written notes, interviews or a mixture of the two,” Votaw says. “Interviews take more time, so the cost to the client will be higher in that case. I also like to be given a title or two that are similar to the tone and style the client wants.”

Some clients (like book publishers and agents) will already have a set fee in mind for a project; others will ask you to make a bid. Make sure you know what’s expected of you, how you’ll be working and how long the book will be before you quote a fee. (See the sidebar at right for a list of questions to ask.)

When it comes to how you charge, there are three basic ways—by the hour; by the word or page (e.g., $10/page or $0.25/word); or by the project. Most ghostwriting clients prefer to pay a flat fee for the entire project, which is a big reason you need to know what you’re committing to before you say yes.

What you’ll charge depends on your experience, but an informal 2010 poll found that ghosts were averaging between $10,000 and $50,000 for both fiction and nonfiction books of 50,000–70,000 words. Most charged between $5,000 and $10,000 to write a book proposal.

As a ghost, you’re in a unique position. You’re not a literary agent, but you may give your client publishing advice, such as whether to pitch to traditional publishers or choose the self-publishing route. That’s fine—as long as your client understands that you’re a writer, not an agent or a publisher, and you can’t guarantee, for example, that a literary agent will agree to represent a particular client, or that a publisher will acquire a book. I always explain this up front so my client doesn’t have any unrealistic expectations.

Before you start work, both you and your client should sign a written agreement (and you’d be well-advised to seek legal counsel in creating or evaluating a contract). At a minimum, it should include a description of the work you’ll be doing (the more specific, the better); how much and when you’ll be paid (e.g., in certain amounts throughout the duration of the project); your deadline; and who will own the copyright to the book (almost always the client).

You may also want to include elements like:

THE DIVISION OF LABOR. Who is responsible for doing what? Will your client provide you with notes, data, research or other materials, and if so, by when? Will you write chapters and then send them to your client for her review?

INDEMNIFICATION PROVISIONS. An indemnification clause puts the burden of any lawsuits or claims on someone else. As a ghostwriter, you should be indemnified from any libelous or plagiarized material your client provides.

COVER CREDIT—OR NOT. Are you truly working as a ghostwriter, or as a co-author? For the latter, you should get cover credit.

TERMINATION PROVISIONS. What happens if one of you wants to back out before the book or project
is complete?

EXPENSES AND HOW THEY’LL BE SHARED. What if you have to travel to meet with the client in person? Who will pay for that? Who is responsible for other expenses?

A CONFIDENTIALITY CLAUSE. Many clients will ask for a nondisclosure agreement.

Getting the Job Done
With signed contract in hand, you’re ready to get to work. If your client hasn’t created an outline already, that’s your first step. Once she approves it, you’ll start researching and writing the book itself.

How you proceed depends on the project and the client. “In most cases, especially if we’re starting from scratch, I have found that the client prefers as much face time with me as possible as we ‘talk out’ their story and get it on tape or paper,” says Ed Robertson, a ghostwriter and collaborative writer. “Once the story is ‘out of their head,’ so to speak, and I start the ‘sitting down and writing’ part, follow-up correspondence via phone or e-mail is usually sufficient.”

But everyone is different. I usually don’t meet my ghostwriting clients in person. We speak by phone, and then work through e-mail. I ask my client for his thoughts about the upcoming chapter, do any necessary research, and then send the chapter to my client for his review. The Track Changes function in Microsoft Word enables me to review the client’s edits or comments when he returns it to me.

“TK,” a publishing term that means “to come,” can be another timesaver. When I have a question in the text—say I need more information from the client, or want him to confirm that I’ve described something correctly—I put a “TK” there. That’s an easy way to draw attention to the relevant section, and I instruct clients to do the same thing with edits they want me to double-check. You then can use your word processor’s Find function to search for “TK” and locate all the unresolved issues at once.

Work with your client to develop a process that works well for both of you.

Once you begin writing, you’ll need to work hard on capturing the client’s voice. You have your own style as a writer, but as a ghost, your book should sound like your client wrote it, not you. “I see myself as the vessel through which the author or expert tells his or her story in the way they would like it told,” Robertson says. “For me, that begins and ends with listening.”

As you listen, note the words and phrases your client uses frequently. Does he speak in short, abrupt sentences or longer, more complex ones? Does he pepper his speech with industry jargon or tell “war stories”? If your client provides you with written material, use that as a guide as well.

Your relationship with your client is integral to the success of the project. I suggest you have your client approve chapters as you write them. If he requests minor changes, you can simply make them and move on. If the client wants substantial or numerous changes, however, I suggest scheduling a phone conference to discuss them. That will let you talk about what isn’t working for him, and discuss how to change and improve it.

What happens if your client is unhappy with much of what you’ve written or wants to take a different approach? “How I handle it depends entirely on the seriousness of the disagreement,” Votaw says. “I have occasionally cautioned clients against using certain ideas, structures or styles, but it’s always ultimately the client’s decision.”

Once all of the chapters are completed (or the sections of the book proposal are written) and approved, create one “master” document that includes everything—the final draft—and send it to your client for one last review. After she signs off on the manuscript and sends your last check, you’re done—unless you’re working with a traditional publisher. Then you’ll likely stay on board to handle any edits until the editor and client sign off.

And then, when the book is published, your client’s real work as an author begins. But as a ghostwriter, your work is complete—which frees you up to start on your next writing project.

NOTE: Ghost Writer, Inc. will assist you the rest of the way, including the book publishing process.

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