The Ghostwriting Relationship

If you are looking to hire a ghostwriter for a long-term project, like a novel, you are entering into a relationship. I’ve written several novels and nonfiction books now, and I can honestly say, the friendships I’ve developed with most of the authors is one of the most surprising blessings of doing this work. 

A good writing relationship of this kind is built on trust and clear expectations. Every project should start with a great conversation about the goals and the requirements of the author. You should get to know one another. When I’m writing for you, you’re the boss, but I also want to bring as much to the table as you will allow. I’m not afraid to tell you my opinions in a respectful way, and I’m not afraid to chuck my opinions when you don’t agree with them, because it’s your book!  

I recommend communicating fairly often. At times I’ve made the mistake of getting invested in a section of a book without checking in with the author, only to find that I’ve gone on too far in a certain direction. When this happens, I have wasted my writing time, because I won’t be charging for words we can’t use, and I’ve delayed the project. Deep down, I didn’t want to check in, because I liked what I was doing. Dumb, I know, because it’s not my book. It’s your book. Early in the project, I like to talk at least once a week. An hour long conversation provides plenty of material and direction for a week’s worth of writing. 

Honest feedback is also important. I try to make it clear from the very beginning that I have extremely thick skin. I am not emotionally invested in what I write, particularly since my name is not likely to be on the project (having waived all copyrights and credits from the start). So I’ll be honest with the author, and I hope that they will be honest with me. 

Other than that, friendships are simply nice. Who doesn’t like making a new friend? Some of my friendships with authors have been for a season, and some have lasted beyond the project. This is truly a blessing. I hope and pray that whoever you partner with to write your book is a kindred spirit who you will enjoy a relationship with. 

It should also be said that not everyone wants to have a friendship with their ghostwriter. That’s okay too. I’ve written entire books without talking even once to the author. Some give me guidelines up front, and never again. It’s like life that way. Some people you know for a moment, and some, forever. 

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