What Is Ghostwriting? The Complete Guide to Ghostwriters

What Is Ghostwriting

What Is Ghostwriting? The Complete Guide to Ghostwriters

What is ghostwriting? Let’s answer this once and for all!


What is ghostwriting? If you’ve ever wondered about ghostwriting or ghostwriters, you’re not alone. Until I entered the world of ghostwriting, I had no idea what a ghostwriter was or what they did.

Just the word ghostwriting elicits various emotions from writers and authors throughout Australia and worldwide.

Have you experienced something in your life that you believe other people would be interested in reading about? A story that’s worth telling? Perhaps you achieved something that only a tiny percentage of the world could ever hope to achieve. Now you’re successful or happy and would like to tell the world how you did it in story form in either a fiction or non-fiction book, memoir, or biography.

The biggest problem is time. There are not a lot of people who have the time, patience, and skill to sit down and write their stories. If you’ve been considering hiring a ghostwriter, but you’re still curious about the question, ‘What is ghostwriting?’ and will a ghostwriter be able to capture your story the way you intend it, you’ve come to the right place. You can learn more about our professional ghostwriting services here.

In the following article, we’ll look at what ghostwriting is, including:

            1. What Is Ghostwriting?
            2. The History Behind Ghostwriting
            3. Successful and Famous Fiction Books That Utilized A Ghostwriter
            4. Successful and Famous Non-Fiction Books That Utilized A Ghostwriter
            5. The Ghostwriting Process
            6. The Stigma Associated with Using A Ghostwriter
            7. Hiring A Ghostwriter | It’s Not As Hard As You Think!
            8. Tips and Tricks for Working with A Professional Ghostwriter
            9. Your Ghostwriter Has Finished Writing, What’s Next?

Read on to learn what is ghostwriting, what a ghostwriter does, and how hiring a skilled ghostwriter in Australia could help bring your story to life!


What Is Ghostwriting?

What does ghostwriting mean? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ghostwriting is defined as “to write (an article, book, etc.) for another person, under whose name it is then published.” While the meaning behind ghostwriting is pretty straightforward, you’d be surprised at how many people are curious about how ghostwriting works.

Regardless of how good they are, a ghostwriter can’t pull the story out of you unless you’re part of the ghostwriting process.

Even the most professional ghostwriters collaborate with their clients through each step of the ghostwriting process to bring the story to life.


The History Behind Ghostwriting

While ghostwriting might feel like a relatively new concept, it’s far from a modern idea. Professional ghostwriting services have been around for longer than you think.

Do you think that every celebrity who has ever published a book sat down and wrote it themselves? Of course not.

Actors, reality stars, comedians, politicians, and public figures worldwide have utilized the services of a professional ghostwriter.

Regardless of your full-time profession, taking time off to write a book isn’t always possible or profitable. Hiring a ghostwriter to work on your book makes a lot more sense when you consider how long a book takes to write.

The idea of ghostwriting dates back to around the 5th century B.C. when royal scribes would write material for kings, queens, and world leaders. Throughout history, world leaders have relied on ghostwriters to craft stories, speeches, and press releases for the public.

Even George Washington’s famous ‘Farewell Address’ was written by Alexander Hamilton.Ghostwriter George Washington

Christy Walsh, famously known as America’s first sports agent, coined the phrase ‘ghostwriter’ in 1921 as he searched for ghostwriters for sports stars, including Babe Ruth. Chris Walsh famously said, “Don’t insult the intelligence of the public by claiming that these men write their own stuff” when discussing sporting stars, including Babe Ruth’s biography.

While some people like to keep their use of a ghostwriter or ghostwriting services a mystery, others are more upfront about how a ghostwriter helped them write their book.


Successful and Famous Fiction Books That Utilized A Ghostwriter

Before jumping into the list of famous fiction books that benefited from ghostwriting assistance, we have to credit one of the world’s most famous and successful ghostwriters, Andrew Croft.

Croft has had a distinguished and successful career as a writer and author, publishing over 80 books, with over a dozen New York Times Bestsellers, and many celebrity books as a ghostwriter.

In an interview with The Guardian, Croft said, “Behind the title of ghostwriter, I could converse with kings and billionaires as easily as whores and the homeless, go backstage with rock stars and actors. I could stick my nose into everyone else’s business and ask all the impertinent questions I wanted to. At the same time, I could also live the pleasant life of a writer…

 Let’s check out some of the fiction ghostwriting success stories:

      • The Babysitter’s ClubWhat is ghostwriting? Nineteen Steps was written by a ghostwriter
      • The Count of Monte Cristo
      • James Bond novels.
      • James Patterson novels.
      • Michael Crichton novels.
      • Nineteen Steps, by Millie Bobby Brown.

You may be surprised to learn, or not after reading this, that a variety of popular book series were penned by ghostwriters, including Sweet Valley High, The Hardy Boys, and even the Nancy Drew Mystery Series.


Famous and Successful Non-Fiction Books That Utilized A Ghostwriter

Ghostwriting non-fiction books may sound easier than ghostwriting fiction books, but in reality, both genres are challenging. While it can be difficult to portray characters the way the client wants, getting thoughts and ideas across is just as hard.

Imagine that you’re the CEO of a company. You’re probably managing multiple departments and employees, dealing with clients, budgets, forecasting, etc. You would love to write a book detailing how you became successful, but who has time for that? Not a lot of CEOs that I know, that’s for sure.

Below are some well-known non-fiction and business books that utilized professional ghostwriting services:

      • Made In America by the CEO of Walmart, Sam Walton.A ghostwriter wrote Spare
      • An American Life by former United States President Ronald Reagan.
      • Inside Out by actress Demi Moore.
      • Spare, by Prince Harry.
      • Paris, the Memoir, by Paris Hilton.
      • The Art of the Deal, by former United States President Donald J. Trump.

If you check out some of these books’ covers, copyrights, or introductions, you’ll notice that they weren’t trying to hide the fact that they used a ghostwriter to write their books. While there may have once been a stigma attached to hiring a ghostwriter, it’s becoming much more common and accepted.

How you credit your ghostwriter or if you credit your ghostwriter in your book is entirely up to you and your ghostwriter. Some authors like to keep it a secret, while others openly share that they utilized a ghostwriter to help them write their book.

On the flip side, some ghostwriters like to remain anonymous and may not wish to be credited for work they’ve completed, especially in controversial genres.


The Ghostwriting Process

You have an idea for a story, fiction, non-fiction, memoir, biography, or a personal life experience you believe other people would be interested in learning about or learning from.

Either you’ve tried to write it yourself and struggled, or you don’t have the time or inclination to write it yourself, but you still want your story told.

Do you just give up on the idea and leave your project forever to sit on a shelf inside your head? No. The funny thing about ideas is that they start to nag at you and find a way to continually worm their way into your everyday life.

So, what do you do? Hire a ghostwriter. When you hire a ghostwriter, you’re hiring someone to put your thoughts, ideas, or story into words in a format that readers will enjoy reading.


The Ghostwriting Experience

Working with a ghostwriter is a unique experience, with most ghostwriters customizing how they work to suit a specific client rather than saying, ‘This is the process I USE, like it or lump it.

What is ghostwriting? It’s the ability to customize how you write to suit your client’s needs and deliver them a polished and well-written manuscript of their design.

A good ghostwriter is flexible, understanding, knowledgeable, and an excellent communicator.

Let’s look at some different examples of how a client might use ghostwriting services for a fiction book:

  • Client 1 – Has an idea for a book and has some experience writing but needs a little help completing their work, pulling together the plot, character development, or simply tying up loose ends in the plot.
  • Client 2 – Has an idea for their book, but they have no writing experience, so they need a lot of help with the plot, character development, pace, and story arc. However, they want to be fully involved with the process and learn from the ghostwriter.
  • Client 3 – Has an idea for a book, no writing experience, and no intention of learning to write. They want the ghostwriter to craft the book outline entirely, write the story, and deliver to them a fully completed and polished manuscript.

Non-fiction books such as biographies and memoirs can be a little more challenging.

Your ghostwriter is working with whatever information you supply to them. This could be in the form of a diary or journal, notes, or even audio recordings. Because of this, many ghostwriters choose not to work on biographies and memoirs unless the client has an adequate budget.


Starting from Scratch with a Ghostwriter or Writing ‘The End’?

You don’t have to start with a blank page when working with a professional, nor do you need to have a completed manuscript.

You would be surprised at how often a client approaches us with an almost complete manuscript or outlined manuscript.

Part of this could be self-doubt. It’s not unusual for new writers to have doubts start to creep in about the level of their work. In some cases, an editor could be as valuable, if not more useful, than a ghostwriter.

If you have a completed manuscript but you’re not confident or would like some guidance. A manuscript evaluation or manuscript appraisal by a professional editor could be the perfect solution. Check out this article: What Is A Manuscript Evaluation? To learn more about what manuscript evaluations are and Why Manuscript Evaluations are So Important!


The Stigma Associated with Hiring A Ghostwriter

Let’s talk about the ethics of hiring a ghostwriter and the stigma associated with utilizing the services of a professional ghostwriter.

Many people are ignorant of what is ghostwriting and what a ghostwriter does.

Don’t let the stigma associated with hiring a ghostwriter dissuade you from getting the professional writing help you need to complete your book or accomplish your dream of becoming an author.What is Ghostwriting

If you imagine the number of best-selling books that are sitting on a computer, in notes, or still just an idea in someone’s head because they couldn’t finish writing them, the number would floor you.

Imagine if author J.R.R Tolkien had the idea for Lord of the Rings but no time to write it. Or author J.K. Rowling started her Harry Potter series and never finished? Would the world be a better place? Of course not.

Writing is a skill that you are either born with or you learn and perfect over time. Writing a book is a massive task. When you’re working with a professional ghostwriter, you’re simply learning from them or borrowing their skills, expertise, and, most importantly, time.

Can you sleep every night for the rest of your life with your ideas and thoughts forever in your head? Or are they nagging away at you? That’s the decision many potential authors face when they are considering using a ghostwriter to either write or finish their book.

Let it go, or go for it? It’s your choice.


Hiring A Ghostwriter | It’s Not As Hard As You Think

Every book is different, and the ghostwriting process, including hiring a ghostwriter, will be different for everybody.

It’s time to find a ghostwriter. 

Luckily, hundreds, if not thousands, of ghostwriters are available to help you complete your book. For the sake of this article, we’ll assume that you have a short list of ghostwriters or you’re ready to start working with a ghostwriter.

Here are 4 tips for hiring a ghostwriter:

      1. Work with a Professional Ghostwriter – Do they work for an established company, have a professional website, and have any feedback or reviews? What’s their experience? Do they have links to books they’ve written, and are they willing to sign a ghostwriting contract?
      2. Choose Someone You’re Comfortable with – Are they friendly to communicate with? Do they answer your questions or concerns, promptly respond to emails or phone calls, and most importantly, do you like them?
      3. Establish Your Budget – This is the part that may shock you. Spending between 10k and 20k for a ghostwriter to write a complete book is not uncommon. Most professional ghostwriters charge between $100-300 per 1000 words of content. Some include outlines and character development as part of their overall quote. Others may charge extra. If your budget is less than $1-2k, then you’re better off trying to write the book yourself.
      4. Determine the Length of Your Book – Are you looking for a novella of 30k words, a novel of 100k words plus, or just a short story? Clearly establish the length of the proposed work.

Finally, establish the bones of the contract. How much will it cost, what are you paying for, and how long will it take to complete?

It’s important to remember that your ghostwriter isn’t an editor, proofreader, formatter, or cover designer. A ghostwriter isn’t going to deliver you a ready-to-publish book, so budget for the whole process and blow all your money on ghostwriting services.

Check out What Is the Self-Publishing Process? To learn more about the complete self-publishing process and the steps involved in self-publishing a book in Australia.


Tips and Tricks for Working with A Professional Ghostwriter

We’ve established what is ghostwriting and the history of ghostwriting and also looked at some tips for hiring a ghostwriter. Now, it’s time to focus on working with your ghostwriter.

Learning how to effectively collaborate and work with a ghostwriter is essential if you want to get the most out of your investment.


5 Tips for Working With A Ghostwriter to Create Your Book

One. Remember, It’s A Partnership

Your ghostwriter isn’t going to take your idea and simply turn it into a best-selling masterpiece without some input and assistance from you. Remember, you’re hiring a ghostwriter to get words on paper, but they’ll need input and feedback from you throughout the process.

Review drafts carefully. Consider where the story is going, the story arc, character development, and plot. Don’t fall into the habit of giving drafts a quick glance over and a tick of approval. Coming back later in the process because you ‘skipped’ through your revisions will be a nightmare and cause many issues.

Think of your book as if you were building a skyscraper. The more floors you add, the harder it’ll be to change the ground floor without compromising the structure of the entire building.


Two. Read Carefully and Read Often

The more you read, the more you know. If you’re planning on writing a book or getting a ghostwriter to write your book, start reading books from your chosen genre. Look at how other authors write.

Your ghostwriter needs more than ideas. They need you to tell them the tone and style, authors you love, books you love, and how you want your book to sound.


Three. Focus On Your Goals

If your goal is just to publish any book to make money, you’ll never be truly successful. The most successful books were written because they had to be written. It didn’t matter if anyone bought them or not. However, making some money along the way is a nice benefit!

Your ghostwriter needs to understand your goals, hopes, and dreams for the book. However, you also need to be realistic about your goals. Having realistic expectations about the success of your book is essential.

According to WordsRated, there are 4 million books published each year. That’s almost 11,000 books per day. Be realistic with your goals and be prepared to put a lot of hours into your author’s social media and marketing.

Check out this article on Why Every Author Needs An Author Marketing Plan!


Four. Communicate Clearly and Often

Communication is critical in any relationship, and communicating with your ghostwriter is just as important. This is easy! Talk to your ghostwriter.

If you like something, tell them. When you love it, tell them. If you hate it, tell them.

The more you tell them how you feel about their writing and how you think it’s progressing, the better they’ll adapt to what you like. Please don’t wait until chapter 10 to tell them that you don’t like how they’ve written in chapter 1.


Five. Be Willing to Learn and Open to Suggestions

Remember, you hired a ghostwriter to write your book for you for a reason. So, be open to their suggestions, willing to listen, and be flexible.

If you want your book written exactly how you imagined it in your head, tell them, but you could also write it yourself, so be flexible with their writing and how they write your book.


Your Ghostwriter Has Finished Writing, What’s Next?

Once you have a completed manuscript that you’re happy with all the draft revisions are complete, what happens next? It’s important to remember that your ghostwriter isn’t an editor, proofreader, formatter, or cover designer.

The next step in the process is to talk to a professional editor about editing and proofreading. While some ghostwriters may claim to be a ‘one-stop-shop,’ the reality is that no one should edit or proofread their own work, regardless of how good they think they are.

There’s a reason that we have professional cover designers, editors, and formatters who specialize in these publishing areas. They are really good at what they do.

If you have been searching for a ghostwriter for your book, don’t hesitate to contact us directly or drop a comment below. We love reading your feedback and comments.

Our friendly and professional team at Author Services Australia is happy to help! Need help with self-publishing, such as ghostwriting,  editingformattingcover design, or manuscript uploading? Our experienced team is standing by!

If you need any assistance with author marketing or social media, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us directly.

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