Ghostwriters

(Excerpt from my new book “Write a Book!”. Get the whole book for free (this week only!) at Amazon.com.)

Okay, so you still want a book but you don’t have time to write. No problem. Hire a ghostwriter. He writes the book and it’s published under your name. The ghostwriter doesn’t mind because he’s paid for that. Many business books and most books by movie stars, musicians, athletes, and politicians are written by ghostwriters.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, was written by Nell Scovell. John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage was written by Ted Sorenson. Raymond Benson was the ghostwriter for a Tom Clancy novel. Faith of my Fathers by John McCain was written by Mark Salter. It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton was written by Barbara Feinman. I am Jackie Chan by Jackie Chan was by Jeff Yang. Dreams of my Father by Obama is by Bill Ayers. And finally, Decision Point, the autobiography of George W. Bush, was written by Christopher Michel.

Be careful with ghostwriters. It’s like those movies where the parents are bugging the poor guy to get married and he comes home with a fake girlfriend. What happens at a conference when the CEO gives a talk that was written by a ghostwriter and someone asks a detailed question? Or the ghostwriter gets a better offer from your competitor? Or decides to go dance with the elephants in Bhutan for three months?

Ghostwriting can range from $3,000 to $10,000 per month for basic ghostwriting. The more you pay, the better the result. And the better the writer, the more you’ll pay. And the higher your job title, the more you’ll pay.

If you’re the CEO or a politician, your publisher may arrange the ghostwriter. In that case, the ghost may get a share of the royalties, the advance, and the movie rights. For major books, this can be $500,000 up to several million dollars.

The ghostwriter will interview you as part of the research. The ghost may also do the research. You’ll get the outline and drafts so you can add or delete to it.

A good account of ghostwriting (and how it turned into a disaster) is Andrew O’Hagan’s ghostwriting of Julian Assange’s autobiography (The London Review of Books, March 6, 2014, at http://goo.gl/71P29m). Despite a million-dollar advance and several dozen publishing contracts in other countries, it was impossible to get Assange to review the drafts.

Where to Find Ghostwriters

There are several ways to find ghostwriters:

  • Talk with your publisher. They often work with ghostwriters.
  • Book agents and public relations firms also often use ghostwriters
  • Look at the leading trade journals for your industry. Contact the editors and journalists to see if they’ll write for you.
  • Look for authors of books in your field. The authors may be able to write for you or they may recommend ghostwriters.
  • Additional places to find ghostwriters include BlogDash, Blogmutt, Business2Blogger.com, Contently, and eCopyWriters
  • You can also hire technical writers. They are highly experienced in writing books.

Get the Whole Book for Free

Want the rest of the book? Get my book for free (this week only!) at Amazon.com.