So you have made the decision that hiring a ghostwriter is the right step for you and your project--now what? For someone who is new to the process, it can be very overwhelming. After all this is someone you are trusting with your ideas, creativity, life's work or business. Despite my obviously biased high praise for ghostwriters, it is important to note that not all ghostwriters are the right fit for every project. Some ghostwriters are highly specialized in a small niche of writing such as memoirs or technical writing. Regardless of your individual needs or the specialization of the ghostwriter, there are a few key qualities you should look for.
1. Individual vs. Company:
This may be my own personal bias, but avoiding large companies is always your safest guarantee to knowing exactly who you are working with. With larger ghostwriting factories, your work is often shuffled from writer to writer and are often a front to make money. Many different individuals may be working on a single clients works and some of those "writers" are low payed college students. Your project is important to you and it should be equally important to whom ever you choose to work on it.
2. Professional Associations:
While finding an independent ghostwriter is ideal, you also do not want someone who is not connected to other writers in anyway. Anyone can throw together a website and insist that they are a ghostwriter, being a member of a professional association demonstrates their commitment to their craft as well as their willingness to improve by being part of a community.
Any ghostwriter worth their salt will have samples ready for you to browse. These are generally the pieces they are using with client permission or pieces they have written using their own byline. If a writer is stingy with samples, that should be a red flag. The caveat to this, however, is that ghostwriters work under strict confidentiality agreements, so don't expect a lengthy list of past clients. They can only divulge clients who have waived their confidentiality.
4. Personal Connection:
This is probably the most important thing to look for in a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter could be the most highly acclaimed writer ever to live, if you have misgivings about them for any reason, your project will probably be doomed. Your relationship with your ghostwriter is an important one and despite what some companies want to convince you of, it is a very personal one. Speak to your potential writers on the phone. A quick phone call will tell you if they share your enthusiasm for your ideas, if they have a style and personality that works well with your own, and if you are comfortable working with them. You will quickly be able to tell their level of professionalism from your conversation.
5. Reasonable Cost:
Ghostwriters are professional writers who have perfected their craft over many years of education and practice, and they expect to be compensated for using their skill for your gain without any acknowledgement. Be wary of a ghostwriter who will write an entire book for very little money. This typically means they are either inexperienced or have little skills. Writing is a highly skilled profession, so do not expect to pay your writer minimum wage or less. Although it is cliche, you always get what you pay for.
If you front load all of your effort into finding the right ghostwriter, working with them should be not only easy, but rewarding as well. A trusted ghostwriter can help the creative and technical process of writing run more smoothly and efficiently.