What’s a would-be author to do? Does he or she just Google “ghostwriter” or “book collaborator?”
A personal introduction is best, as in all things. But just as the family or friends intro or blind date has gone the way of the dinosaur, as Match.com and eHarmony.com now fill the breach, more people are entrusting their books to strangers and hoping for the best.
I suggest that you talk to the potential scribe, tell that person what you’re up to, and see what kind of feedback he or she gives you. Have them send you their books, or buy and actually read them. Meet the person—that’s a must. Ask for a list of references and call them. Ask their clients questions such as—Did your writer bring your project in on time and within budget? Where there any surprises, good or bad? How was he or she to work with? How did well your book do for you? How much did the writer charge? Yes, ghostwriters are expensive, though their prices can vary depending on whether you want And here are few tips for managing your relationship with your ghostwriter:
- Set definite timelines, and be the squeaky wheel. Writers—and I am one—can be, shall we say, distracted. They may have multiple projects, of which yours is just one. Nobody wants to have to be a pest, but wouldn’t you rather be a little annoying and get your manuscript done on time?
- Play an active role in the research and writing process. You will have homework assignments to complete, chapters to read and approve or correct and edit, and the much of the end result depends on the quality of your engagement with these tasks.
- Be specific with your objections. If you don’t like something the writer shows you, don’t just say, “Ugh, I hate it.” Tell the writer why! The more specific your feedback and criticism, the better your ghost will be able to come back to you with a new, improved version of that chapter or the entire manuscript. Very often my first draft falls short, but with feedback, my “master edit” carries the day and the client is pleased with the end result, which is all that matters in the long run. There’s a reason a first draft is called a “rough” draft.
- Cut your losses. If your ghostwriter is Ms. or Mr. Wrong, to hell with the first check. Just move on to another collaborator. As with dating, you don’t always know who’s absolutely right until you’ve gone a ways down the road with that person. Don’t throw good money—or time—after bad.
Let’s recap: To find a ghostwriter, look online ask around, and even call a literary agent if you know one for recommendations. Ask anyone you know who may have worked with a ghostwriter or editor. You can also pick up a book you love and look at the acknowledgements to find a collaborator who may or may not be credited as a coauthor on the book cover. You can often find such a collaborator by searching online. Or, you can advertise online yourself at websites like Linkedin.com, and describe your book and what qualifications you’re looking for in a writer. Like many of life endeavors these days, it’s all about networking.