5 Questions to Help You Find a Ghostwriter

Ghostwriter. Sounds kinda spooky, doesn’t it?

Actually, there’s good reason behind the name. Ghostwriters remain in the shadows and leave the spotlight to others. But finding one doesn’t need to be a mystery.

A ghostwriter is a professional writer adept at assisting others who want to bring ideas and stories alive. Some seem almost clairvoyant, akin to a professional empath, for their ability to tune in to another person’s thoughts and feelings. They listen closely and work to channel the lead author’s voice and expertise into high-quality written works such as books, blog posts, op-eds, and white papers.

The majority of ghostwriters are unacknowledged, others are mentioned on an acknowledgments page under a vague title. Occasionally they are identified using “with” or “and” in a book’s title credit.

They have different styles of working, as well. Some ghostwriters work in isolation, with virtually no input from the named author, while other ghostwriters collaborate closely with the lead authors and prefer a dynamic partnership.

Shhh! Where are they?

Where do you find a ghostwriter? Like any other professional service provider, they may keep an online presence, belong to organizations, or be available through a middleman gatekeeper. Ideally, you can get a referral from someone you trust.

If you’re game to hunt for a ghostwriter yourself, consider browsing the Freelance Success Writers Search or posting an ad on the ASJA Freelance Writers Search. Other alternatives include LinkedIn Profinder or Upwork, where you can post details about your project and invite responses.

Literary agents often have a roster of skilled ghosts on file. If you don’t know an agent, consider perusing The Association of Author’s Representatives or Publisher’s Marketplace agent listings.

To get a “concierge” style service from a more targeted network, consider Gotham Ghostwriters  or the Association of Ghostwriters. If you’re working outside the US, Reedsy could be a useful option.

How to pick the best ghostwriter

These 5 questions can help you identify the best ghostwriter for your project:

  1. What’s their track record? Preferably they are educated and literate, with a degree in English, creative writing, journalism, or communications. Consider whether they have worked as a staff writer or editor with a reputable firm, and if they have extensive, high-tier publication credits with their own byline or as a ghost.
  2. Can they write specifically to your audience? If you are writing a book for nuclear physicists, a ghostwriter with a PhD in a related discipline could be a good fit. But he or she may not be able to switch gears and write effectively to C-suite executives or general consumers.
  3. Do they ask savvy questions? A ghostwriter needs the mental flexibility to grasp new concepts and offer the right combination of enthusiasm, insight, and analysis. They need to pick up details and also see the big picture. A ghost who asks smart questions is looking to understand your specific goals and requirements. Their questions help reveal their thought process and suggest how well you might work together.
  4. Are they easy to talk to? Are you comfortable speaking with them and interacting with them at length? Do your communication styles mesh well?
  5. Do they really listen? Good listening skills mean the ghost is paying careful attention to what you say. Typically they will record conversations and take many notes, so they can accurately reflect your message. The final product will more closely reflect your voice if it incorporates your words verbatim wherever possible. The final product should sound like a polished version of you.