Ghostwriting Australia

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Ghostwriting Gratitude

What is a ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter is a writer who writes books, stories, blogs, magazine articles, or any other written content that will officially be attributed to another person – the credited author or ‘commissioner’.

Why use ghostwriting services?

Sportspeople, politicians, celebrities, and businesspeople are the traditional users of ghostwriting services. While these people are experts in their fields, they are not professional writers. Hiring a ghostwriter to write their autobiography, biography or business document ensures they convey their message clearly and professionally.

I’m not a celebrity. Why do I need my story ghostwritten?

Some reasons that you may choose to work with a ghostwriter are:

  • English is not your first language and you are not confident about writing a book for publishing
  • You are writing your first book and need help getting started
  • You have a story that is important to you. It may be a memoir, a biography, your autobiography, ‘that’ story you have held inside you for your whole life, a ‘how-to’ or self-help book that you want to share with others, an article, or an online blog. You do not have the confidence to express your ideas with clarity or the experience to write with confidence.

What do ghostwriters write?

A ghostwriter may be hired by the credited author (or the credited author’s publisher) to:

  • write a complete book, article or blog
  • do most of the writing for a book based on a specified outline
  • do research for a book, article or blog
  • finish off a book in the same style as the author to free them up for other writing work
  • write sections of a book in collaboration with the credited author (similar to ‘developmental editing’).

How do I find a ghostwriter for my book?

The best way to find a good ghostwriter is to:

  • consult professional publications and professional organisations
  • do an online search for ghostwriting
  • contact several writers and ask them about their experience.

Ghostwriting Australia: Finding a Ghostwriter

Ghostwriting fees

How much does it cost to ghostwrite? There are several considerations around fees:

  • How much material is involved and how long will it take to write?
  • How much written material can you provide the writer, and what kind of shape is that material in?
  • What is the complexity of the subject matter and the required expertise of the ghostwriter? If you need a book written on rocket science, you would expect to pay both for the ghostwriter’s writing expertise and for their knowledge of the specialised subject
  • How established and experienced is the ghostwriter?

To write a complete book, a professional ghostwriter can take several months to a year to research, organise, write, edit, and revise a non-fiction work. Meantime, they have to live, and so if they are working pretty much full time on your book, you will need to expect to pay accordingly.

Some ghostwriters charge a flat fee per word, or per page. Other ghostwriters may accept a percentage of the royalties on the sales of the book. If you are an unpublished author and you do not yet have a publishing contract, it is unreasonable to expect the ghostwriter to accept payment based exclusively on a percentage of royalties when there is no realistic basis for expecting there will be any.

Book ghostwriting fees can range from the ‘low’ end at $10,000, to $100,000 per project charged by established celebrity ghostwriters (some celebrity ghostwriters command $250,000 plus).

If the project is small – the ghostwriter will write a blog, an article, or a few chapters of your book – then you can expect to pay an hourly or per-page rate, and this depends on what the individual ghostwriter charges per hour or per page.

It is worth checking with your accountant, as the cost of ghostwriting a book related to your business may be tax-deductible.

How long does it take to ghostwrite a book?

As a rough guide, a 200-page non-fiction book may require close to 300 hours of time – around 70 hours of research and organisation time, one hour’s writing time per page, and one hour of editing/revision time for each 10 pages.

Why shouldn’t I hire a ghostwriter offshore?

A recent trend has been to outsource ghostwriting jobs offshore. While this may initially save fees, the quality varies wildly and usually, a book that has been ghostwritten by someone whose first language is not English is never published. The ghostwriter does not understand the culture, or the nuances of the English language, or the vernacular (e.g. Australian English).

In suggesting that it is not ideal to hire a ghostwriter whose first language is other than English, my intention is not to be culturally insensitive. I am simply being practical. If the boot was on the other foot, and you wanted your book written in a language other than English, you would be unlikely to hire a writer whose first language was English rather than the target language.

Choosing a ghostwriter based exclusively on price is false economy and ultimately not cheaper. You may need to spend a lot of time communicating your intent when the ghostwriter does not ‘get it’. The ghostwriter may have to rewrite multiple times before they get it right – if they do. Isn’t that precisely why you hired a ghostwriter? To get it right the first time?

It’s simple really; you get what you pay for.

What should I look for in a ghostwriter?

  • A good writer. Give them an idea of what you want and ask them to write a few pages as a sample
  • A person you communicate with easily and feel at ease with
  • A ghostwriter whose first language is English
  • A ghostwriter who understands the cultural context of your story, and the nuances of the English language.

Should I credit the ghostwriter for writing the book?

There are various ways that a ghostwriter can receive credit for their writing contribution if you as the credited author wish to. It is up to you how much credit, if any, you give to the ghostwriter. The ghostwriter may receive partial credit (‘with [your name]’ or ‘as told to [your name]’ on the cover), or the acknowledgement may mention the ghostwriter’s contribution.

If you do not wish the ghostwriter to receive any official credit for writing your book or article, you as the credited author can agree this with the ghostwriter. You may ask them to sign a nondisclosure contract that forbids them from revealing their ghostwriting role. The reason they’re called ‘ghostwriter’ is that their role is usually invisible!

Is the ghostwriter entitled to a share of royalties when my book is published?

If you are paying per page or per word, or you have agreed a flat fee for ghostwriting your book, you generally keep the royalties. How you pay the ghostwriter and whether you share the royalties is part of negotiating with the ghostwriter.

Should we have a contract?

As with any business arrangement, it is always a good idea to have a written contract, signed by both parties, setting out the agreement between you. The Australian Society of Authors has a template the ghostwriter can use as a basis for the agreement.

Is ghostwriting really for you?

This post has explained that ghostwriting is a lengthy and costly process. That’s why it’s mainly well-known people like politicians and sportspeople who commission a ghostwriter. Also, the manuscripts of such figures are much more likely to be picked up by mainstream publishers, who need to minimise their risks. One of the main ways to reduce their risk is by being confident that the book will sell. A well-known writer will more easily sell a biography or an autobiography than an unknown writer. While this may be discouraging to hear, it is an understandable reality.

What’s an alternative to ghostwriting?

I’ve discovered that around 98 per cent of the people who first contact me about ghostwriting would actually like to write their book themselves. But they don’t have the confidence, believe they don’t have the skills and don’t know where to start.

Writer coaching and mentoring

That’s why I began the writer coaching and mentoring service a few years back. With guidance, people with the drive to do so, even those who’ve never written before and think they don’t have the skills, can write their book. Over the years, I’ve worked with writers who’ve started with nothing, with writers who’ve had a rough draft that’s all over the place, with writers who’ve written several chapters but then got stuck, even with writers who have finished writing the manuscript but feel it’s lacking and not yet ready for editing.

Writer coaching and mentoring is a much more affordable service than ghostwriting. Once you commit to a ghostwriting contract, you are contractually obliged to see it through. With coaching and mentoring, you can have as many or as few sessions with me as you wish.

Ghostwriting Australia Demystified

NOTE: For the forseeable future, I am no longer taking on major (novel-length) ghostwriting projects. If you have a short ghostwriting project such as a blog or an article, or you would like to enquire about WRITER COACHING, please connect with me.


I invite you to download my eBook – see below. Improve your writing skills and learn how easy it is to self-publish your book!

book cover gail tagarro author

Comments

  1. Your post is really good providing good information.. I liked it and enjoyed reading it.Keep sharing such important posts.

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  2. I would very much like to try my hand at ghostwriting. How can I get started?

  3. As noted by Nicole above. I am interested in becomming a freelance ghost writer. I’d appreciate some advice on how to get started.

  4. Hi I am looking for a ghostwriter to tell my story about grief and resilience within a family. Could you recommend where I start?

  5. Hello, as some other people have stated above, I am interested in becoming a ghostwriter myself. Would you be able to send me some further information? Thank you.

  6. I too would like some information on how to get started as a ghost writer.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Louisa, and all you aspiring ghost writers. As I seem to be receiving lately a lot of enquiries about how to get started, I thought I’d post a generic reply here.

      Like any worthwhile enterprise, there is no quick way to becoming a ghost writer. The essential quality is that you have to be a good writer; you must have the necessary skills. As I need a starting point from which to answer the question ‘how do I get started as a ghost writer’, I will assume that you already have the skills and some writing work (a portfolio if you will) to prove it. It’s also essential to build up a presence on social media, and probably have a website. These will give you a platform from which to receive enquiries. There are really no shortcuts, I’m afraid.

      You can advertise your services in writers’ organisations and publications. If you live in Australia, the Australian Writer’s Marketplace publication, produced by the Queensland Writers Centre, might be a good place to investigate. Also, each state in Australia has writers’ centres. In Queensland, it’s the Queensland Writers Centre http://www.qwc.asn.au/ In NSW, the NSW Writers’ Centre: http://www.nswwc.org.au/ and so on.
      They generally have directories where you can advertise your services.

      Hope this helps everyone wondering about how to get started as a ghost writer. Good luck!

  7. Hello there I am looking for a chostwriter would you kindly email me privetly on my email address
    Kind regards
    Margaret

  8. hello,

    I am looking for a ghost writer to help me with my first book.
    are you able to point me in the direction of any Maori/NZ ghost writers? i am looking to write something from a cultural perspective.

    Kind Regards,

    Ashley

  9. Just the information I needed.May need a ghost writer one day.I have a story to tell!

  10. Hi ,I’m looking for a ghostwriter for a book and documentry ,I’m on the gold coast ,,thanks ,

  11. Milly Partington says

    Hi Gail, I think I am capable of writing my book, well most of it over time but would definitely need help in editing and putting together, I am just not sure how much help you actually offer, would love some more information?

    • Hi Milly, thank you for your message. It’s great you would like to try writing your book yourself. If you need support and guidance during the process, I’d recommend some writer coaching sessions with me. If you’re confident about writing the entire book and would then like it edited, well I can step in then. I’ll send you a personal email to discuss these options. Gail

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