What is a Ghostwriter? & Why You Should Hire One

Published: Dec 10, 2019
Last Updated:
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The ghostwriting business is booming, part-and-parcel of a thriving internet. The demand for content is at an all-time high with no signs of a slowdown. Ghostwritten content is penned by legions of writers who dream up witty, pithy blogs and ebooks—but someone else gets credit.

As a business professional, you don’t have time to scratch out some lines about why your product is the best out there. You may have a scintillating story to tell about your business or market, but no time to write it.

But with a ghostwriter, you get to hand off this task.

What is a ghostwriter?

A ghostwriter works with a client to transform their raw ideas into coherent, sales-worthy prose. This can happen in a few different ways, but broadly speaking, there are two main “flavors” of ghostwriters:

  • Some ghostwriters take your ideas and help refine and shape them in the written word. You may even generate most of the content, creating a rough draft that the writer hones into lively, engaging text. The writer may do additional research to flesh out the details.
  • Some ghostwriters gather the ideas for you, doing interviews and other research. Then they’ll write the material with your oversight. You decide if you want full credit or to give a hat’s off to the writer. For instance, bestselling author James Patterson’s name headlines his book The Cornwalls are Gone. In smaller type, you can see the name “and” Brendan DuBois, the ghostwriter. (In some cases, you might need a magnifying glass to spot it.) What percentage of the book did Patterson actually research and write? You’ll never know.

While many people associate ghostwriters with books, you can hire a ghostwriter for all types of content, including blog articles, white papers, and ebooks.

And though some fear hiring a ghostwriter will make their content less authentic, professional ghostwriters strive to preserve your unique voice and style. They'll make sure your book or article is packed with your anecdotes, humor, and other nuggets to showcase your personality.

Forget about getting lost in printed manuscripts and long back-and-forth email threads. Collaborative writing tools make it easier than ever to work with ghostwriters.

Why hire a ghostwriter?

You may be oozing with creative ideas and want to tackle them on your own—so why hire a ghostwriter?

Admittedly, hiring a ghostwriter isn’t for everyone, particularly those who want the satisfaction of writing and creating something all on their own. However, if you don’t carry such aspirations, consider these scenarios where it makes sense to hire a ghostwriter.

You don’t have time to create content on your own

Time is a limiting factor, and there's no room in your schedule to put together ideas for your book, article, or video script. You have an amazing story percolating in your brain and you think it'll catch fire in the marketplace.

But if it's ever going to see the light of day, time constraints mean that someone else will do much of the research and writing. Otherwise, to be frank, it might never get done.

Writing is not your strong suit

You’ve got a story to tell but lack the writing skills to properly convey it. Or, you're prominent in your field and have fascinating insights to share. But just because you’ve got a brilliant story idea or have achieved great heights in one area doesn’t mean you’re expected to be a great writer.

That doesn't have to kill your dream of seeing your story in print, though. Whether you’ve got a fictional or nonfictional story to share, ghostwriters help you fill in research gaps and generate interesting quotes and background for your project.

You need SEO expertise

You want to grow your business’s online presence through search engine optimization (SEO) and content.

Why hire a ghostwriter for this major undertaking?

Ghostwriters trained in SEO are up-to-date on Google algorithms and have the content writing skills to drive more leads to your business’s website. They can help ideate and draft articles for your blog or even write ebooks to use as lead magnets. This way, you don’t need to focus time and energy on learning the complexities of SEO on top of creating content for your site.

Capitalize on a business opportunity

It’s the golden age of e-publishing. There are plenty of skilled freelancers available, although choosing carefully vetted writers like those at Compose.ly will put you ahead of the game from the start.

Ebooks have opened the world market to all kinds of writers, thanks to the globalizing influence of the internet. And Amazon has streamlined the e-publishing process, making it easier and more profitable. Writers get a 70% royalty on Amazon for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.

That doesn't mean, of course, that old-fashioned "wood-pulp" books are obsolete. Print books continue to out-sell ebooks.  In fact, a recent Pew Research study shows that 37 percent of American adults only read print books, while 7 percent only read digital books.

(Image credit: Pew Research Center)

Save time and money

Ghostwriters, especially those who aren't "name brand," can charge reasonable fees. Beginning ghostwriters can charge as little as $12,000 to $15,000 for a book between 200 and 300 pages. A short ebook (under 100 pages) might cost around somewhere between $8,000 and $12,000.

Costs for established authors and for books requiring heavy research are much heftier—in the $25,000–$60,000 range. As for other media: the average white paper costs around $4,200. A voiceover script for a corporate video can range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the complexity.

Taken at face value, these dollar ranges may be higher than you’d like. However, consider the cost of writing something on your own. How much time would it reasonably take for you to write a book?

Author Bridge Media estimates that writing a 240-page book takes somewhere between three to five months. However, for an individual to write a 240-page book on their own while juggling a business and personal life, it’d probably take much longer—maybe a year at minimum. After considering your own hourly rate, a dedicated ghostwriter would save you considerable time and money in the long run.

Final Takeaways

In short, you can chip away at your book, blog, or video script for months or years, making little progress. Or, you can hire a ghostwriter who will generate a timeline, start working on a draft, and actually get your project done.

Established writers can provide niche expertise, providing sources in a particular field and a deep well of background knowledge. And they know how to structure any given piece of content accordingly, something most busy professionals don't have time to learn. They'll burnish your prose and you'll come out of the process sounding like the resounding expert you are.

The resulting work will be a cornerstone of your business marketing strategy, a creative outlet finally fulfilled, or a long-standing testimony to your life and times.

This article was written by Compose.ly writer Karen Fillman.


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