• Do I Want a Ghostwriter?

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Strategies     Comments No comments

    Ghost headThe impression I get is that nobody wants to do any writing this summer.

    That’s a slight exaggeration, but it does seem as though we’re getting five calls and emails per day asking about our ghostwriting services (shameless plug: see them here). The most common question we see is, “Do I need a ghostwriter?”

    I might suggest a different question: “Do I want a ghostwriter?”

    Nobody truly needs one.

    But there are plenty of good-to-great reasons to want a ghostwriter (i.e., someone to write your book, story, article, etc. on your behalf, with your input). If you find yourself saying any of the following, then the answer to “Do I want a ghostwriter?” is probably a big ol’ hell yeah!

    [Tweet “Ask yourself not “Do I need a ghostwriter?” but rather “Do I want a ghostwriter?””]


    “I am a terrible writer and/or I’m not a writer at all and/or I hate to write, like, a lot, like, I’d rather suffer through a week-long summer flu than suffer through composing a single paragraph of prose.”

    Gee whiz, OK. We get it! You don’t like to write.

    But we do.

    A ghostwriter’s only job is to do the writing for you. The way we at WriteByNight do it, you and your ghostwriter will have several preliminary discussions about your project — the story, the scope, the style; length, breadth; timelines, deadlines; target audience, publication goals.

    After that comes what for you would be the hard part and for the ghostwriter is the fun part: the writing itself. And along the way, the ghostwriter sends you his/her work for your approval regarding all of the matters you’ve discussed. You can be as hands-on or hands-off as you’d like.


    “I honestly don’t have time to write this book or whatever, even if I wanted to, which I probably don’t anyway because why else would I be reading this blog post about ghostwriting, and/or I have a tight deadline I know I can’t hit.”

    Again, a ghostwriter’s only job is to do the writing for you, at whatever pace necessary to ensure that you hit any deadline, self- or editor/ publisher-imposed.

    If you don’t have the time, we do.


    “I don’t have the knowledge it takes to write a publishable book for my specific audience.”

    Any ghostwriter you hire should have such knowledge. Make sure to verify that this is the case before moving forward. If a ghostwriter is vague about his/her experience and knowledge, be cautious.

    Our ghostwriters, of course, ooze knowledge. Like, literally. It’s pretty gross. But effective. They know how to write for any target audience, and they know how to write the kinds of books publishers are always on the lookout for.

    [Tweet “If you find yourself saying any of these six things, hire a ghostwriter:”]


    “I am not passionate about this project, and/or I know I won’t have the discipline it takes to complete it, because although I’ve had this idea for years, every chance I have to work on it I end up just going to the movies instead or hanging out with my family or playing the thing with those animated birds that are upset about whatever.”

    Our ghostwriters never go to movies. They don’t have families, and they don’t have friends. They can’t play the animated bird game because they don’t have cellphones or tablets. All they do is write. Yes, it’s weird. And a bit scary. But their passion is the written word and telling a once-in-a-lifetime story.

    In other words, let us bring the passion and the discipline.


    “I’m much more comfortable with promotion than with writing, and I want to lay the groundwork for my platform so that when my book is done, I’m already ready to spread the word about it and make it a smash hit, and if I have to spend time writing instead, these promotion efforts will have to wait, or they won’t get enough of my attention and concentration, and I can’t afford that.”

    You clearly also have a problem with run-on sentences! My, my.

    But yes, this is a great point. While we’re writing the book for you, you are free to: set up and manage your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc., accounts, and grow an audience for your podcast, and build your sparkling website, and figure out ways to take your story viral, and book your appearances on Oprah and Regis & Kathie Lee (too soon?) and those C-SPAN shows where authors mutedly read their work in front of literally dozens of TV viewers.

    You spread the word while we make the word. Words. You spread the words while we … you … while we make words, you spread them … you spread it … the word.

    (Don’t worry, I am not one of our ghostwriters.)

    (Just kidding, I totally am. I’m just having some fun.)


    “I’m better at delegating than doing; I’m a supervisor, not a supervisee; I am the boss, and I pay others to do things for me, because that’s what bosses do.”

    When you work with a ghostwriter, you are in charge every step of the way. If the project ever feels out of your control, you have the wrong ghostwriter.

    This process is a collaboration, not a one-way stream of prose from ghostwriter to client. Along the way we will, of course, send you streams of prose. But then you send back streams of feedback. You don’t like the direction the project, or even any small part of it, is taking, we change direction. You don’t like the style or tone, we change the style or tone. If we write “gray” and you prefer “grey,” we change every “gray” to “grey.”

    You delegate, we do. That’s the only way this process works.

    [Tweet “Ghostwriting is a collaboration, not a one-way stream of prose from ghostwriter to client.”]


    Ghost2I think we’d all be surprised to learn how many published books have been ghostwritten. But we’ll never know, because the vast majority of ghostwriters go unacknowledged. It’s possible someone is ghostwriting this post for me. Go ahead and try to prove it!

    In other words, nobody ever has to know that someone else wrote your book for you.

    That’s how the word “ghost” entered the picture. We are not seen and we are not heard, except by you.

    Ghosts are scary and writing is scary. But conquering your fear of ghostwriting may be the best decision for you and your book. So when it comes time to make a decision on whether or not you want to write your own book, ask yourself not “Do I need a ghostwriter?” but rather “Do I want a ghostwriter?”

    If you find yourself saying yes, based on the statements above or on anything else, well, you know how to reach us.

    Discussion: Have you had any experiences, good or bad, with a ghostwriter? Let us know below. Have you ever answered one of those Craigslist ads labeled “Looking for Ghostwriter”? Ooh, definitely let us know about that. Because those ads usually lead to some weird and wild stuff.


    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2016 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coaching, private instruction and writer’s block counseling services. And join our mailing list, over in the right sidebar, for once-per-week writing goodies in your inbox. 

    Linked2WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and contributes regularly to the Dallas Morning News, Publishing Perspectives, the Observer and other publications.


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