A Guide to Hiring a Business Ghostwriter
Entrepreneurs are employing innovative marketing and brand-building strategies. Lately, their out-of-the-box thinking has brought new ideas and marketing channels into the world.
Social media and content marketing have already found their place in business. But between the character limits of Twitter and the ideal word count of a blog post for SEO, important information is lost. Writing a book is a viable solution to that problem.
However, it is easy to think about writing a book in your head, but it doesn't seem so easy when you actually sit down to write. Businesses are increasingly hiring ghostwriters to write long-form content to market their product or service and build their brand. Books are a great way to reach your audience and catch a good kind of attention towards your brand and your profile.
Let's break down the process of hiring a business book ghostwriter, so when you do hire a ghostwriter for your business book, you know the best way to do it.
Who is a ghostwriter?
Imagine you are someone who does not have the writing skill required to write your book, but you have a clear concept of the book in your head. You need someone to convert that idea into words that can fulfill the goals you have in mind for your business book.
What do you do?
You hire a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter will do the writing for you in exchange for money, of course. Think of them as service providers. They spend their time and utilize their skill to do a job for you, so you pay them for the job they did. That's it.
Whether you publish the book or not, how much you make from it, and other matters are yours and yours alone to handle. The ghostwriter comes to you, performs an activity, gets paid for it, and leaves. They don't work for recognition or royalties. So if your book does sell a thousand copies and makes you a New York Times bestseller, the ghostwriter won't come in to share the credit. If no one reads your book other than your mother, then you can't blame them either.
However, there are some instances where you give some credit to the ghostwriter in your book, but they still won't take a cut in your royalties. You have to set the conditions of your contract at the time of hiring. Generally, book authors get their ghostwriters to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement which binds them legally not to claim the book as theirs.
But is hiring a ghostwriter for your business book really the ideal way for you to achieve your goals? Let's look at the pros and cons of hiring business ghostwriters and other alternatives to that so you can evaluate whether it is the best course of action to take or not, given your goals and requirements.
Benefits of Hiring a Ghostwriter
People spend thousands of dollars on ghostwriting to write their books. There is obviously some charm in it that they realize, something that's created such a big demand that people are making careers as ghostwriters. As a business book author, let's see what's in it for you.
• Business book ghostwriting became a job when entrepreneurs realized they simply could not produce business books that can be put up against a published non-fiction book written by an established writer. There is a huge difference between skill levels that can't reduce without assistance from an expert who is at least on the same level or above.
• It takes an enormous amount of time to produce a manuscript. Someone who is running a business does not have that much time to spend writing. With a good ghostwriter, you will only have to communicate your ideas effectively, and that's it. It could be giving them access to your journal where you note down your ideas, or it could be voice calls where you tell them everything that you need to be in your book. That takes no time at all as compared to writing the book yourself.
• Taking the time-saving advantage one step forward, if you still decide to write your own book, the turnaround time would be significantly more than what the ghostwriter will take for the same amount of work. They are more efficient because they do it for a living. You might be writing a book for the first time, but for a ghostwriter, it is just another project.
• The research of a ghostwriter before they begin to write a book is on a level of its own. Even when they're loosely sharing opinions, they do so with a lot of authority. They will research your market and target audience and will know exactly how to capture their attention and keep them hooked.
• Readers won't be able to tell the difference between words that are your own versus words that were ghostwritten. A good ghostwriter will capture the tone of your voice and the expressions you've picked up while growing up or due to your work. After a point, even you will have a hard time staying consistent till the end of your book, but to a ghostwriter, it comes naturally due to their experience.
• You get expert advice on bad ideas before they are implemented. A good ghostwriter will be able to tell you what's a bad idea because they know what works in a book and what doesn't. Working independently, you wouldn't know how good your ideas are according to the readers because you wouldn't know what works for a non-fiction book and what doesn't. The communication with a ghostwriter is two-way. You share your ideas with them, and they share theirs with you. At the end of the day, your opinion trumps theirs, but it is always useful to have a person like that at your back.
Why You Shouldn't Hire a Ghostwriter
Many people think that hiring a ghostwriter is not a good decision to make. That cannot be entirely true. It all depends upon your goals and whether they align with the process or not. Here are some reasons for which someone would be reluctant to hire a ghostwriter. The more you relate to them, the more reason you do not hire a ghostwriter and pick an alternative method instead.
• You may want full control over your business book. You can not wait for a chapter to finish before you can see what's being written.
• You are too picky and want things to turn out exactly how you have them in mind. You could still get a good ghostwriter who offers multiple revisions, but it is just too frustrating for both the author and the ghostwriter. Even if you have found a great one who can capture exactly what you want, if you have to micromanage and dictate every single line exactly how you think is right, then you might as well just write the book yourself. Don't get us wrong. Ghostwriters love feedback. But picky clients just make work a lot less fun than it usually is.
• You have trouble sharing your ideas with someone you do not have a personal connection with. Remember, you are only paying the writer to write a book, not get a degree in your subject matter. They will research on their own anyway, but if you expect mind-baffling technical concepts to be dissected in a simple manner, you should be able to explain them to the ghostwriter and compensate for the knowledge deficits.
• You do not want someone else in the driving seat. You just need guidance on how to write a business book, and you wish to do it yourself. There are other resources for that, for example, book coaches, developmental editors, but a ghostwriter is not one of them.
If the reasons mentioned above make you think that we were talking about you, then you should consider an alternate method to write your business book.
Write Your Book Yourself
The first method is a complete DIY. If you have all or most of these characteristics, you can handle the writing yourself. But beware, you might still need an editor. You can write a book if:
• You are good with words.
• You have read a ton of books.
• You can take out at least an hour every day with no distractions and nothing else to look after because book writing takes a lot of focus.
• You are someone who does not procrastinate and can focus easily.
• You are good with research.
• You have an eye for detail.
If you are in the dilemma that you need to be a thought leader in the industry who writes their own book but can not write a book that will make you a thought leader, then there's a way in between. Book coaches will hold your hand throughout the writing process and help you write a book that is considerably better and more marketable than what you would've accomplished on your own.
What they do is called developmental editing. They will help you prepare an outline of your book, assessing the flow of the content, the sequence of facts and how they are unearthed in front of the readers, and a hundred other elements that make a book great.
Business leaders rarely have that kind of understanding of the literary world to write a bestseller. They employ book coaches, mentors, and developmental editors to help them craft an enjoyable read or a knowledgeable one since it's usually a nonfiction book.
A book coach can also be your proofreader, motivator, and sometimes even your book agent. Consider this kind of assistance if you want more control over your business book.
If, after reading the reasons why you shouldn't hire a ghostwriter, you're still reading on, then your goals probably best align with a ghostwriter. In that case, this is a guide on how to hire a ghostwriter to write a business book. The guide is made keeping in mind business book authors specifically.
Let's start from the basics.
Where to Find a Ghostwriter?
There are three channels you can follow to look for someone to write your business book. Each one has its benefit and downside. We'll take a look at all three of them to see which one you should follow. You could look for your dream ghostwriter using all three channels.
Just like there are freelancers for graphic designing, there are freelancing ghostwriters. They can be found at one of the freelance work platforms like:
There are thousands of ghostwriters available on these freelance writer marketplaces, and not all of them are equal. You can find some of the cheapest writing services on these platforms, and you can also find some really incredible people to work with. But there are a lot of risks involved. No one's to say if you'll have a great experience or a really bad one. It all depends upon the person you're hiring for your job.
When there's such risk involved, due diligence becomes an even more crucial part of the process. You can find a person here who will claim to do certain things, but you will easily find someone else who will claim to do all of that but cheaper. It is not new for someone to get confused in a freelancer marketplace and make the wrong choice.
We suggest you be careful while testing writers and don't go price shopping to find the cheapest service. Remember, cheap can also mean low quality and missing important parts that you will need anyway when you go for publishing.
Approach renowned ghostwriters outside freelancer platforms. A quick Google search will bring you one website after another of business ghostwriters who will have published a number of books. Although they will cost you more than market prices, they are more dependable than freelancers.
Each writer's website will showcase their abilities in the best manner possible. You can even find a published business author who has already written business books. Take a look at some of their books and see if they are good at their work or not. They may have already written a book or two on the subject of your project.
The only downside to them is that they are mostly writers and can deliver brilliant manuscripts. But authors are often left with just a manuscript in their hands with no clue what to do about it. That's why professional ghostwriters have started to prefer working for a ghostwriter agency rather than being self-employed.
However, if you can afford the expenses of an established, self-employed ghostwriter and do not have to worry about the other tasks involved in publishing a book, hiring a ghostwriter using this method is highly recommended.
Only a ghostwriter who has been successful in making money ghostwriting chooses to stay self-employed because they're probably earning more than what an agency can offer them. These people aren't found on freelancer websites. They either work on a referral basis or are popular enough in the literary world not to require any publicity or promotion. These writers can be expensive, so make sure you are ready to write a heavy paycheck before deciding to hire one from this category.
A lot of people can't trust someone who is taking the task as secondary as freelance writers do. Most freelance writers have existing full-time jobs and are working freelance for some extra dough. On the other hand, there are many writers who write for a living.
Such a book ghostwriter can be found at ghostwriting agencies. Ghostwriter agencies are where ghostwriters write on a daily basis to earn money. When a company is attaching their name with a writer, they don't do it on a whim. The company has a strict screening process to make sure the ghostwriter keeps their reputation intact. They have people who are highly experienced with a lot of knowledge about book publishing, writing, editing, polishing, you name it.
It is way more trustworthy than hiring a freelancer ghostwriter. Plus, depending upon the agency, you may even find extra services like formatting, cover designing, publishing assistance in the same place. They will take everything from writing to publishing off your plate and handle it on their own more efficiently if you choose to opt for that kind of service. So if you're looking for peace of mind in all aspects, look for ghostwriting agencies on Google.
Fill out forms, and contact the top choices. The conversation with their account managers is usually very simple and will answer all your questions. After talking to all your options of choice, pick the one you think is best, and hire them.
Things to Look for in a Good Ghostwriter
Now that you know where to look for ghostwriters let's discuss what to look for to find the right person for the job.
There is no set metric to gauge the skill level of a writer. In general, there is a correlation between the amount of work experience someone has and their level of skill at it. Of course, there are other variables that need to be considered too, which we will. But the first proof that a writer can deliver what they promise is their past experience.
A ghostwriter with more work to show on their portfolio is more trustworthy than someone who doesn't have anything to show.
But there's a catch to it. Ghostwriters work under non-disclosure agreements. It is difficult to show proof of their experience. Many ghostwriters work under strict guidelines and hence have little to nothing to prove they have helped publish multiple books.
If a ghostwriter can show you their previous work, it's a double-edged sword. They are either breaking their NDA, or they didn't sign one. Make sure they sign an NDA for your business book before you hire them.
This is in continuation with the previous pointer but is a big factor to be considered. The amount of experience a ghostwriter has means little if the nature of their experience or the focus of their work has been different. For example, a writer with a lot of experience writing fiction may not be able to write business books. Business books are different from fiction. Your company does not need a bestseller young adult romance; your goals are different.
You need to screen your writer profiles according to your genre. When you're shortlisting potential candidates, make sure you're only looking at ghostwriters with experience writing business books.
If the ghostwriter is qualified in the subject of your book, then it is a huge plus. They won't have to start learning the basics of the subject before writing the book. It will also be considerably convenient for you to communicate with them. They will understand your industry jargon, the premise of your book and have an understanding of the fundamental concepts from the get-go.
Although it may be difficult to find a ghostwriter who has an educational background in your subject of focus, if you do find someone like that, give them extra points for that.
Price is a huge factor to base your decision on. You may find the next Dale Carnegie of business books, but if they are going to cost you over $150,000, then you might settle for the next best writer on your list who will write the book in $50,000.
Before settling with one ghostwriter, make sure you have the cost of publishing your business book clear. You want to look for a ghostwriter in the price range that will leave you some money to spend on editing and proofreading if you're going to use traditional publishers.
Whichever publishing route you take, make sure you have the costs planned before settling on a writer. You don't want to hire a ghostwriter you can't afford, no matter how good they are.
For a business ghostwriter, communication is perhaps one of the most important factors. Many ghostwriters prefer to communicate over the phone because emails are not enough, although email is the primary mode of communication for sharing data.
If you think you will have to meet your ghostwriter in person to tell your story, make sure you look for someone who can meet up with you. A business book ghostwriter should be someone you can talk to face-to-face, but it is not necessary. Many people in the ghostwriting business work for people around the globe and are very successful in their approach.
In any case, make sure you find someone you can talk to in your preferred mode of communication.
Time of Delivery
The time it will take for the manuscript to complete is another factor for some people. If you're bound by a timeline and have to publish the business book before a set deadline, make sure your writer can promise you delivery before that. Keep some time as a margin for edits and revisions.
Some sough-after ghostwriters will be booked in advance by other clients. If you want them to work on a shorter timeline, you might have to pay a premium for urgent delivery.
Ideally, the writer you want to work with will be available to start on your project, but that rarely ever happens, except in ghostwriting agencies.
So if you want the business book to complete before a set deadline, find a writer who can deliver before that.
The last factor to consider is knowing what you're going to do after the manuscript is finished. Business authors often advise not to hire ghostwriters because once you gain access to the final manuscript, the ghostwriting process is over. But is the project really over for you?
A manuscript won't do you any good. You will have to turn it into a book and publish it. Do you have arrangements for that?
If yes, then you don't have to worry. Just focus on finding the best business ghostwriter you can within your price range, and you're set.
If you haven't thought that far, now is the time to do it. Because you could find a service where you won't have to worry about the book editing, proofreading, formatting, cover and illustration designs, publishing problems, etc.
The benefit of getting all the services under one roof is that it costs you considerably less than individually paying at each step of the project. Moreover, you don't have to spend time managing everything at every single step either.
The Hiring Process
Now that we know where to look for ghostwriters and how to shortlist them from hundreds of available options let's look at the hiring process and how to approach shortlisted candidates.
Step 01: Prepare
Before you sit down to talk to ghostwriters who could potentially be writing a book for you, you should be prepared to introduce yourself and explain your idea to the writers in simple terms. Writing the important details in bullet points helps clear things up and keeps the conversations from getting swayed away from the topic.
Make a brief summary of the story of your company from its roots, your position in the company, who your target market is, what your work philosophy is, what sets your company apart from your competitors, etc.
Be prepared to answer personal questions as well. Many good ghostwriters tend to evaluate the author before they start writing a book for them. It is helpful for them to know what kind of people they are working with, so they can hit all the right marks they need to successfully deliver a project. You need to be ready to respond to the questions in the right way beforehand, so they don't hit you like a surprise.
Finally, you should be ready to answer the big question; the idea behind your business book. Many authors fail to realize that the way they relay this information actually has an impact on the ghostwriting journey and the quality of their end product. If you are able to transfer all the necessary knowledge to paint a big picture of the book in the head of your ghostwriters in the beginning, you will have a much better time in the hiring. Plus, your ghostwriting process will also be smoother when the writer clearly understands what you want them to write.
Make a rough summary of the following points:
• basic knowledge they need to write the book
• a list of subtopics you want to cover
• all the essential points that need to be in the book
• any unique ideas or concepts that you want to educate the writer on
• the sequence of chapters
• an end conclusion for the book
• any additional information about the content
Step 02: Make Contact
When you've made everything clear in your head, you are ready to talk to the writers. From the list of ghostwriters you've collected, start contacting them one by one. Introduce yourself, and your idea to the ghostwriters like you've prepared and ask them questions to get to know them.
We have already discussed above all the things you need to look for in a ghostwriter to make a good decision. Make sure you read their bio, description, or any other profile information that is already available on the platform where you found them. Anything that is not mentioned can be asked directly.
Make personal notes about all the ghostwriters, the answers they gave you, and how you felt about them. Feel free to rate them out of 10 and mention the things you liked about them as well as things you are concerned about.
Step 03: Gauge Their Experience
Ghostwriters don't publicly present the information about the books they've worked on before. But some writers will be able to provide you samples of their previous work if you request them. Ask them for samples, credits, outlines, recommendations, or anything they can provide as proof of their rapport and skill.
Step 04: Test their Skills
Some ghostwriters who work under strict NDA rules won't be able to produce anything upon request either. Authors often trust such ghostwriters due to referrals, or they test them personally.
If you are really convinced to hire a writer who can not produce proof of their experience or writing capabilities, ask them to write an outline or just the first chapter of your book. This way, you can assess them on not just their writing skills in general, you would also know how well they understand your idea.
If it works out, then you can always proceed with the rest of the book. If it doesn't, you save yourself a lot of money in the long run. And you still have the outline or the first chapter to salvage.
Step 05: Finalize
After you've sorted through the shortlisted ghostwriters to find someone to write your ideal book, you can proceed to negotiate on the terms and price.
Make sure all the terms are present in writing and agreed upon by both parties from the beginning of the contract. Set a minimum percentage of less than 7% similarity index to stay on the safe side, although you can go up to 10%.
And that's pretty much it in the process of hiring. All there's left to do is wait for the deliveries on the pre-determined deadlines and make payments when they're due. And congratulations! You will be on your path to becoming the author of your business book.
This guide highlights everything you need to know about ghostwriters and how to hire one for a business book when you're on a short schedule. The journey of becoming an author is interesting but not easy. There are hundreds of things that can go wrong and turn an otherwise successful book into a disaster for the author. From a business perspective, you want to avoid risks that could potentially make you lose money without an outcome. You need a sure-shot way to publish a business book worth sharing with the people in your professional circle as well as your target audience. Some work is required on the backend to ensure that the ghostwriting process goes smoothly. With this guide to help you, you can make a more informed decision in hiring a ghostwriter and becoming the author of a successful business book.
Best of luck!