All about Ghostwriting


I'm not a writer, but ...

We are approached all the time by authors who either have a fantastic idea for a story or have had an amazing life story which they want to relate.

In both cases, we are typically told, 'I'm not a writer, so can you find me somone to put my idea down on paper?'

Because we're helpful types, the answer is definitely Yes. That's the good news.

The tough news is that ghostwriting is pretty expensive. It involves weeks - probably months - of work by a skilled professional, so it doesn't come cheap. You need to be realistic about costs and outcomes before you get started. We'll never tell you anything other than the straightforward truth about what to expect.

What is the full ghostwriting service?

A ghost writer is there to write a book, to your specifications, for a set fee. Most ghostwritten books are factual - normally, autobiographies. A ghost will typically talk to you in detail about all aspects of your story and tape record those conversations. The tape recordings form the basis for the final book. Because a book is a major project, you need to be ready to talk ... and talk ... and talk ...

A ghost won't just be interested in facts, dates, etc. They'll be interested in the texture of your experience. What were you thinking? What were you feeling? What could you see and smell? It's those things that really create an excellent book. Once a ghost has all the information they need, they'll go away and start writing.

How long will they take?

It depends. It depends on your budget. It depends on the length of the final book. It depends on how complex the story is. It depends on which ghostwriter you select. But you should allow between 2 weeks and six months. 3-6 months would be typical for a full-length book project. A ghost will be in touch with you as they work, both to report on progress and get any further into they need.

And how much money are we talking about ...?

Remember that you are talking about weeks and months of work by a skilled professional, so you need to budget accordingly. Even the shortest assignment will cost £1000-£2000. A more typical assignment might cost between £8,000 to £15,000. Some ghosts will charge a whole lot more. More complex assignments will require a larger fee.

Don't think that a ghost will be prepared to discount their fee for a slice of the profits. Profits in writing are terribly small - and most books don't even get published. If you're a Hollywood A-lister, then we'll be happy to discuss alternative arrangement. For the rest of humanity, alas, a fixed fee needs to be agreed in advance.

I want to work with a ghost, but I can't afford those kind of fees. Can you offer some kind of halfway house?

Yes. The main work involved in ghostwriting is getting the whole darn story down on paper. If you've already done that, then we can commission one of our professional authors to go through your manuscript tightening sentences, improving the structure, sorting out grammar, and so on. That's still a time-consuming business, but you'll probably save yourself around 2/3rds of the full ghostwriting fee. You'll also end up with a manuscript that has a properly professional finish. When we've done this for clients in the past, the results have been excellent.

I've got the most amazing life experiences you've ever come across. I fought alongside Prince Harry in Afghanistan / I was married to the head of the Mafia in NY / I'm the first paraplegic to conquer Everest. I'm just sure that a publisher will want my story and pay for a ghostwriter.

Maybe. Your experiences will need to be at least on a par with those just mentioned to stir the stony heart of a literary agent or publisher - but if you think they are, then talk to us. We helped an Apache pilot from Afghanistan secure a huge ghost-written publishing deal. Such things don't often happen, but we'll tell you if you stand a chance.

Once I've got a completed manuscript, will you help me publish it?

Yes - depending a bit on what you mean. Commercial publication can't be guaranteed. Literary agents and publishers are ruthlessly selective. Many book projects don't have a realistic hope of making it to mainstream publication, but you can always rely on us to give you a straightforward, honest assessment of your prospects. Needless to say, if we believe in your book, we'll do what we can to secure an agent to represent you.

On the other hand, if what you want is a beautifully bound and presented book to share with friends and family, then we can sort that out for you. Self-publishing like this gives you total control over cover design, illustrations, layout, etc. It can be a wonderful gift, either to yourself or for a loved one.

I've heard all that you say, but I definitely want to pursue this further. What do I do next?

 

Talk to us. The best place to start is normally to send us a short email outlining your story and what you want to achieve. Your email doesn't need to be beautifully written - we just need to get the gist of your story. Also make sure you include a phone number, so that we can call you to discuss things.

I've had a very difficult childhood / life story. Surely a literary agent would be interested in that.

Maybe. The first thing is to remember that your story is very important to you. You need to be very hard-headed when assessing how far it may be of interest to others.

Perhaps, for example, you had the huge misfortune of having been abused as a child. Perhaps you want to get your story 'out there' so you can help even one single person.

Unfortunately, agents and publishers are only interested in making money. Although there is a large market for inspirational true life stories, the market is crowded & competitive. Publishers therefore have to search out stories that are genuinely exceptional. Your own story will not be judged according to whether it would help others, whether the story was of great importance to you, or anything else. Publishers will ask "Can we make money?" That's all. Few true-life stories make the grade. If you have a sensitive tale to tell, you may not want to have anything to do with the publishing trade. For more info on these issues, please check this page. If you'd be interested in writing your own account of your experiences (and we'd be delighted if you were!), then click here.

Finally, who's that shadowy person in the room behind you?

Person? There's no one here in the room besides us. No one at all. Wooo .... wooo wooo!