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The Basics of Ghostwriting


Everyone has a story to tell. We’ve all experienced love, hate, heartache, joy and fear; we’ve seen good times and bad, and we all have little beads of wisdom to pass down to younger generations. But how can any single individual spread their thoughts and ideas to the rest of the world?

Through writing, of course!
Ghostwriting has taken hold of the copywriting industry and changed the face of publication as we know it. In case you aren’t familiar with ghostwriting, here is a practical definition:
Ghostwriting – the writing of any manuscript, no matter its length or substance, to which credit of authorship is given to someone other than the writer.

In other words, one person hires another to write his or her novel, memoirs, articles, book or other form of media. How cool is that?
Many ghostwriters call their profession “the little known secret of the writing industry,” which is accurate because very few people are even familiar with this service. In reality, there are hundreds of professional ghostwriters all across this country, most of whom are very good at their jobs.

How Does It Work?
In most cases, ghostwriters are hired by people who have neither the time nor the ability to write their own book or novella. For example, many of my clients have amazing plot lines for suspense or thriller novels, but can’t figure out how to translate their ideas into a cohesive manuscript. Others are business or marketing executives who have amazing insight into the business world, but who need someone else to create a book about it.

Clients usually send me e-mails wondering how the ghostwriting process works, because they aren’t sure if it is something they want to pursue. So for all of you out there who have stories and ideas brimming in your brains, here is a basic synopsis of how I work as a ghostwriter.

I start with a phone interview with the person requesting my services, and we talk in detail about their ideas. I take extensive notes, not only about their subject matter, but also about the idiosyncrasies unique to them. All ghostwritten material must reflect the author whose byline will appear on the manuscript. If I write it in my voice, then it isn’t really theirs.

Then I get to work on an outline if necessary, and sometimes I jump directly into a first draft. I work quickly, and without thought to details, so that my client can see the basic framework for their manuscript. I submit it after I’m finished, let them read it and comment, and then I go back and begin the lengthy revision process.

How Long Does It Take?
Obviously, the answer to this question will vary from ghostwriter to ghostwriter. It depends on typing speed, thought processes and the extent of editing to be completed before final draft. Business and technical manuscripts will take much longer than fiction novels.

For a 70,000 - 100,000 word novel, it usually takes me around three months to complete. Some ghostwriters take more than a year, while others can pump out novels in less than one month. Since I usually have more than one project happening at a time, I give the three month estimate to allow for project overload.

Full-length business, marketing and technical manuscripts take me around six months to complete.  An e-book of 50 – 100 pages will take much less time – around one month. If there is extensive research involved, I incorporate that into my writing time, and I advise clients to provide me with any research they might already have acquired.

How Much Does  It Cost?
This is everyone’s favorite question, and like turn-around time, it’s a difficult one to answer. I offer custom quotes to each of my clients, and assess the project according to the following factors:
1. Estimated Length of Manuscript
2. Reseach Necessary to Complete
3. Level of Client Involvement
4. Medium for Publication
A full-length novel (more than 50,000 words) will usually run between $10,000 and $25,000. A business or marketing book more than 50,000 words will cost between $15,000 and $50,000. E-books less than 100 pages are usually around $900, and articles less than 2,500 words cost between $150 and $300 per document.

This is a basic guideline for my price list, and is in no way set-in-stone. Some ghostwriters charge upwards of $70,000 for a full-length manuscript, while others charge less than $5,000.

How Do I Find A Ghostwriter?
The important thing is to find a ghostwriter who can work on your time table and who can understand your philosophies and ideals. Compatability is extremely important, and I won’t accept a client with whom my basic principles don’t coincide. I advise everyone seeking a ghostwriter’s services to interview several before making a decision.

I also recommend that you hire a ghostwriting company versus a freelancer. A ghostwriting business can offer professional support and can ensure that your work will be completed in a timely fashion. Freelancers are often too overloaded with work, and when you hire a business, you have multiple writers from which to choose.

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