A Ghostwriting Guide - Finding and Hiring Your Ghostwriter
Writing is hard work. The American playwright, Tennessee Williams, is reported as saying
it was the hardest thing he ever did and he ought to know for he had been, among other things,
a lumberjack, a coal miner and a merchant seaman.
But the discovery that writing is hard is no deterrent to anyone motivated to write their
life story or family history or that special book they know is inside them and just bursting
to get out. Of course some people start on their magnum opus only to give up when they find
that writing really is a "lonely and sullen art".
Yet, for those who go the distance it's only after they finish their sixty or seventy thousand
words - no mean feat in itself - that they discover how tough and uncompromising is the world
of publishing: how difficult (some would say impossible) it is to get their manuscript (MS) read,
never mind accepted, by a literary agent or editor at a reputable publishing house.
So, after a few rejections, many emerging writers opt to have their MS assessed by a
published writer or assessment agency. Which is when they may find that their writing has serious
flaws and that it's going to take a whole lot more work and rewriting to get the MS into a
shape that may appeal to an agent or editor.
It's a lesson professional writers learn early - that at the end of the first draft of
a book the writer is still much closer to the beginning of the process than the end.
Manuscript assessment can bring many benefits (too numerous to list here) to a writer's
work, not least that if the MS has been assessed by someone credible, it may sway an agent
or editor to read it. Even so, the rewriting has to be undertaken by the author, and sometimes,
though the author takes into account some elements of the assessment, he or she misses out
It's not unheard of for a MS to be assessed two or three times before it is sufficiently
good to be considered by an agent or editor. And the process isn't cheap. An assessment of
an average length MS will cost between $500-$800. Perhaps it is possible to get it assessed
cheaper - but in MS assessment, as in ghostwriting, you definitely get what you pay for.
But whatever happens in an assessment, the author is still responsible for writing the
book and seeking to get it placed with an agent and editor
This of course doesn't trouble some individuals who wish not only to write a particular
book but also to become professional writers. These people often opt for a mentorship. Being
mentored by an established writer means going down deep and staying down for months... or,
more usually, years. But being mentored is a great way to learn the craft and a surprising
proportion of mentored authors get published, although the process will cost a few thousand
dollars over the life of the mentorship.
There is one other (small) group of people who are sufficiently motivated to want their
book to be published but who are realistic enough to know they have neither the time nor the
skills to write it. These are the people who consider hiring a ghost-writer. The rest of this
article is about what you need to think about if you are thinking of employing a ghost-writer.
Firstly, and to save you reading further if it's out of your range, the cost of a ghost-writer
for an average size book - say fifty to seventy thousand words - could be anywhere between
$25,000 to $50,000. Yes... that's right.
Of course it may be possible to reduce those costs somewhat, or contract with the writer
to take a share of royalties, but the overall cost of having your book professionally written
will still be considerable.
Why so high?