Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to write a book?
How does writing process work, and how much of my time will it require?
The writing process itself normally takes place on the phone and via email, although personal meetings or Skype sessions can sometimes be arranged. Since you almost certainly know your subject well and have some background information on it (e.g. articles, blog posts, and white papers you have written and copies of talks you have given), your required preparation time may be modest.
During the phone calls, which typically take place weekly or biweekly and last about an hour, you will provide much of the content for your book. Your ghostwriter will ask questions to expand on certain points and promote clarity. Then, working from transcripts of your calls and other information you may supply, your ghostwriter will repare a draft of that portion of the book and email it to you for your review. In between calls, you’ll spend two or three hours reviewing the drafts and preparing new material for the next call. The whole process might require between two and five hours per week of your time.
As you draw closer to the finish line, reading through the drafts of your book and making final adjustments will require a bit more of your time. If you’re choosing to self-publish, you will also need to spend some additional time making decisions about cover design and other issues. We will guide you through the entire process, from conceptualization to publication.
As my ghostwriter, do you have any rights to my book?
None, whatsoever! We will sign a “Work for Hire” agreement, which makes it clear that we are performing our services for a fee, and that all rights to your book and all revenues from the sale of it belong to you.
Does my ghostwriter need to be acknowledged in my book?
Most of our author-clients are happy to put a “with”Â byline in smaller type under their name on the front cover. Many authors also thank their ghostwriter in the AcknowledgementsÂ section of their book.Â People know that executives are busy, and they respect them when they leverage their time and talents. Putting the name of your ghostwriter on the cover of your book is evidence of business acumen. It tells your readers that you cared enough to enlist professional support.
Will you keep the content of my book confidential?
Will the book sound like me?
Yes. Our goal will be to present your ideas in your voice. Since your ghostwriter will be talking regularly with you, the writing will naturally tend to reflect your speaking style.
What is your typical book ghostwriting fee?
The ghostwriting fee is payable in installments over the span of the writing and production process. Depending on the size and complexity of the book, it generally ranges between $25,000 and $65,000.
How much does it cost to design and print a book?
The production costs for a self-published book (cover design, interior layout, etc.) usually range between $2,000 and $4,000. The cost of printing 500 copies of a black and white, soft-cover book of about 200 pages is typically about $2 to $3 per copy. If you choose to go with a traditional publisher, the publisher will pay all of these costs.
How should I market and distribute my book?
Early in the writing process, we will help you plan for the marketing and distribution of your book. We have an excellent book marketing consultant on our team, and if desired, we will introduce you to others, so you can choose the best one for you. Be sure to budget an adequate amount for marketing.
Is ghostwriting ethical?
From time to time, when I’m chatting with people about my ghostwriting services, I’ll be asked the question, “Is it ethical for you to do the writing while someone else puts his name on the cover of the book as the author?”
My answer is, “Yes, but the issue deserves a more thorough discussion.”Â Then, I’ll ask questions like the following:
- Is it ethical for politicians to give speeches that are written by their speechwriters?
- Is it ethical for CEO’s of corporations to sign letters to stockholders that are written by their PR people?
- Is it ethical for leaders of charities to sign fundraising appeals that are written by professional copywriters?
A surprising number of people reply “Everybody knows that politicians don’t write their own speeches, and I don’t think that’s unethical. But I didn’t know that some authors don’t write their own books. If an author puts his name on a book, don’t people have a right to expect that he actually wrote the book?”Â
That line of reasoning seems to suggest that the problem is one of awareness rather than ethics. The implication is that if more people were aware of ghostwriting, it wouldn’t seem so “deceptive.”
That’s a valid argument, but it oversimplifies a complex issue.
Ghostwriting really does raise some ethical concerns. And like so many complex issues, the answers aren’t always clear cut.
On one end of the spectrum, most people would agree that it is unethical for an author to put only his name of a book that a ghostwriter has substantially written. For example, it turns out that Bruce Wilkinson wasn’t the sole author of the Christian blockbuster,Â The Prayer of Jabez.Â David Kopp, an executive with Multnomah Publishers, made very substantial contributions. In fact, some might argue that Kopp actually wrote the book. But the byline “with David Kopp”Â was not added to the front cover until nine million copies had been sold. I’m glad that oversight was corrected.
On the other hand, when an author gives the ghostwriter practically all of the information for the book along with some writing guidance, I don’t think it’s unethical for him to keep the name of the ghostwriter in the background. Perhaps the ghostwriter deserves some recognition on the acknowledgments page for professionally presenting the author’s thoughts, but omitting a byline on the cover wouldn’t be inappropriate.
Some non-fiction authors feel (mistakenly, I believe) that giving their ghostwriter a “with”Â byline on the cover will reduce the effectiveness of their book as a marketing tool. They fear that sharing the spotlight will diminish their credibility as authorities in their field.
I respectfully disagree. Surveys have shown that acknowledging the ghostwriter does not diminish the credibility of the author. People know that executives are busy, and they expect them to leverage their talents. Hiring a ghostwriter is a smart business decision, not an admission of failure.
However, I don’t believe the same rules apply to fiction. Non-fiction authors are primarily presenting themselves as experts in their field, but fiction authors are primarily presenting themselves as authors. I think it’s smart for authors of fiction to enlist the services ofÂ editors but wrong for them to turn the writing job over toÂ ghostwriters.
Is ghostwriting ethical? Yes, but not always.
Do I get to pick my ghostwriter?
Yes! If I’m not the best fit for your project, I’ll recommend one or more members of my team for you to interview. You get to make the final decision.