What Does a Ghostwriter Do Anyway?

One thing I get asked all the time at networking events and when I meet new people is: “So, what do you do?”

When I tell them I’m a ghostwriter, the response is very often the same.

“What does that mean?”

It’s not surprising that the general public don’t know a lot about ghostwriters. After all, part of our job description is right there in the name: we’re ghosts. It’s intentional that we should fade into the background, no one ever knowing we were there. When you see our work, most of the time, you’ll have no idea that we had any part in it.

To put it succinctly, a ghostwriter writes books for other people. Once the book is finished, it’s the client name that goes on the cover – not the ghostwriter’s name.

Ghostwriting is a much more common practice than many people realize. After all, it’s quite rare for someone to be a super-talented musician, athlete, actor, or high-powered businessman at a Fortune 500 company, AND still have both the time and the skill to write a compelling book.

For the vast majority of clients that come to me, time is the major issue that they are facing. Many people even feel confident that if they took a few years to work at it, they could hone their writing skills and come up with a decent manuscript. But those few years of training, plus the time it would take the actually write the book, will put a massive dent in their plans, because they’d rather get a book published within the year.

That’s where a ghostwriter comes in. I’ve had over thirteen years of experience as a ghostwriter and also as an author in my own right, publishing my own bestselling books. Even before I became a professional writer, I had spent most of my life writing short stories, then short books, then copywriting articles and blogs for businesses and media outlets, before finally writing my own first novels.

All that experience takes a lot of time and effort to build – I very regularly spend eight hours a day sitting at my desk, typing. For most people that already have their own full-time job or run their own business, putting in those kinds of hours just isn’t practical.

That’s why many celebrities have their memoirs ghostwritten – Prince Harry, Andre Agassi, and the founder of Nike all share the same ghostwriter. The same is true of entrepreneurs and coaches who want to publish business books or business memoirs. You may even be surprised to learn that a large number of fiction titles are ghostwritten – I can attest to that first-hand, having been responsible for novels published under the names of best-selling Amazon authors in the mystery/thriller and romance niches!

There can be a lot of variation in the packages that ghostwriters offer. The basic and most solid part of the service is simply writing the book, often based on a series of interviews with you. Some ghostwriters may offer some or all of the following extra services:

  • Market research
  • Layout and design, sometimes in partnership with other professionals
  • Self-publishing services, such as uploading your book to Amazon’s KDP system
  • Help with traditional publishing, such as submitting your manuscript to literary agents
  • Editing
  • Additional research and interviews with others in your life, or other experts in your field
  • Distribution, for example setting up Print On Demand (POD) services

When you agree on the terms of working with your ghostwriter, make sure that you first clarify what they do and they don’t offer. You will also need to decide whether you want them to sign an NDA, meaning that they can never share that they worked on your project, or allow them to use it for their portfolio.

If you’d like to learn more about what I include in my services, check out my information here.

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