Should You Hire a Ghostwriter?

When you’re getting ready to write a book, one question likely to pop up first is, “Should I hire a ghostwriter or try to write it myself?”

To write a book, you actually have three options available:

  • Write it yourself
  • Write it with the help of a coach and/or a really great editor
  • Hire a ghostwriter.

To discover which option is best for you requires a little self-examination into not only how much time you have. You must also do an honest assessment of your skillset.

Let’s talk about writing skills first.

Do You Have the Skills to Write Your Book?

Not only is writing a particular skillset, writing a book is a very particular skillset. Even professional journalists who have written countless articles don’t know how to write a full-length book until they’ve done it.

Writing a book is a lot different than writing an article, white paper, or a blog post. Not only must you make your points clearly, you’ve also got to make sure each point delivers on your book’s core thesis. Kudos if you get in all your important ideas and hold your reader’s attention for 250 pages of scintillating content.

When to Get Help

If you’ve never written a book before (or never written a good one), my best advice is to get help. One way is to hire a ghostwriter. But even if you plan to do all the writing, get help in the form of a book writing coach and/or a really good editor. (Ideally, someone who’s worked on traditionally published books, as it’s the traditional publishers that set the bar for writing quality.)

We help clients write books that get traditionally published in the non-fiction space. Most of our clients are experts in their field, but they’re not professional writers. They usually come to us as first-time authors. They often have zero to little formal training in writing.

If this is your first book, or you’ve never been traditionally published before, then write it with some kind of professional help. If you don’t, the odds of ending up with a great product are extremely low.

And if you’re not trying to develop into an amazing writer, and your main goal is to just get a quality book out, using a ghostwriter can not only accelerate the process, but it can make it a lot less painful.

Speaking of pain…whether or not you have the writing skills to produce a full-length book, the question of time is an important factor in deciding if you should hire a ghostwriter.

Do You Have Time to Write a Book?

My friend, Steven Griffith, author of The Time Cleanse would tell you that of course you have the time. The question is, do you choose to allocate the time you have towards writing your own book?

Truth is, you might be an outstanding writer, but if you aren’t willing to allocate the time, you will never finish.

If you hire a coach to help you write your book, and you don’t carve out the time to work on it, you might end up spending more money paying a coach to needle you about writing than it would cost to use a ghostwriter in the first place!

In this way, hiring a ghostwriter may be more economical, both in terms of time and money. Coaches often charge on a monthly or session-based rate. You might have every intention to meet all the writing deadlines and be “on it,” but it can be difficult to carve out time for writing with life’s demands constantly pulling on you.

Hiring a great editor also can get expensive. You’d be surprised how iterative the writing process is. Sometimes a chapter written by a non-writer client can go through 20 or more iterations before it’s “publisher ready.” That can get expensive if you’re paying an editor by the word for every draft.

So, working with a ghostwriter can be really efficient. It can save you time on writing and money on iterations. For example, we charge for ghostwriting “per finished word,” which means no matter how many edits we do, you only pay for the words that end up in the book.

Also, if you hire a quality ghostwriter, the final draft should be achieved within three revision cycles, not dozens.

Even with a Ghostwriter, You Still Need to Show Up as the Author

This all being said, be sure that you participate deeply in the process with your ghostwriter. The main danger here is making the incorrect assumption that if someone else is writing it for you, then you don’t have to be fully engaged.

If you intend to write an impactful book, your engagement is vital. It requires that you show up for more than just a few hours of interviews—think more like 20 to 30 hours of interviews for a full-length book.

This will help your ghostwriter can get an in-depth understanding of your material, and, more important, it’s also an opportunity for you to enhance your own understanding. But you take some time with it, and let yourself stretch your mind, in order to receive all the benefits. If you do, you’ll uncover more about yourself and the value you offer than you ever even knew was possible. You’ll be amazed to discover what you didn’t know that you know.

A good ghostwriter will ask you introspective and important questions like: you say this is true, but how do you know this is true? Is it still true? Are there exceptions? What are they?

When working with a ghostwriter, you will be able to identify where you’ve made assumptions and where you speak from true authority.

You can complete the journey of becoming an author and gain all the benefits without all the hassle.

The Bottom Line is This:

Writing your book with a ghostwriter can be a great help when done correctly because it allows you to quickly produce great content while still getting all the benefits of self-discovery that come with writing the book yourself.