A ghostwriter is someone who is hired to write for a fee when someone else is to be credited as the author of the material.
Often celebrities, political figures, executives and others will hire a ghostwriter when they want to publish a book but don’t have the time or writing skills to produce it. It’s been estimated that 25% of New York Times Best Seller List non-fiction titles are ghostwritten, and in the case of celebrity authors, almost 100%.
Does that surprise you?
Ghostwriters are professional writers. They can get the writing job done quickly and effectively. As writer Alex Mayyasi wrote in his fine article on about the ghost-writing business, “A major benefit of ghostwriting is that it allows stories to be told that would not otherwise.” (http://priceonomics.com/the-ghostwriting-business/)
Sometimes ghostwriters are required to sign non-disclosure agreements so that their role in writing the book is kept secret. Other times they may be acknowledged as an editor, research assistant, or sometimes even on the cover. When you see ‘as told to X’ or ‘with Y’ after an author’s name, you can be sure that X and Y were the ghostwriters for the book.
Publishers, or even authors themselves, will hire ghostwriters to produce books (especially fiction) for a series under a best-selling author’s name. The author’s popularity guarantees book sales. Ghostwriters make it possible to increase the number of books released. Tom Clancy, James Patterson and others use ghostwriters so they can provide more books than any one author can produce.
Ghostwriting in the book publishing world has a long history.
Boomers, do you remember our old favorites – the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries? They were written by contract writers who followed the predetermined formulas provided by the author-turned-publisher, Edward Stratemeyer. The “authors,” F.W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene, were pseudonyms for the army of ghostwriters that produced hundreds of titles for children under Stratemeyer’s management.
So, do you need a ghostwriter?
- have a book you need or want to write AND
- writing is hard for you, OR
- you don’t have time to spend writing, AND
- you have the budget
then hiring a ghostwriter could be a great decision for you.
Ghostwriters are paid a fee, which can run from a $5,000 to $100,000. The amount of the fee is based on:
- the writer’s experience,
- the length of the book,
- the type of book,
- the role of the writer in the project and
- the amount of material provided to the writer.
If hiring a ghostwriter will end your frustration over writing your book and will get your project done, I say go for it.