Despite the intriguing name, a ghostwriter does not specialize in stories about goblins.
Instead, a ghostwriter works quietly behind-the-scenes to help create high quality blogs, white papers, proposals, books, and other written works.
A ghostwriter is a professional collaborator who makes it easier and faster for experts and executives to prepare high-quality communications. At the client’s direction, the ghost develops content and synthesizes data, concepts, and stories into a polished finished product. Specific tasks can include research, interviewing, information organization, editorial support, manuscript development, copywriting, drafting, and revisions.
Shhh! Where are they?
Where can you find a ghostwriter when you need one? 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, you might try online marketplaces where you can solicit proposals from individuals of varying skills and experience. Two examples are LinkedIn Profinder and Upwork. The American Society of Journalists and Authors offers a Freelance Writers Search where you can post details about your project and invite responses.
How to pick the best ghostwriter
These 5 questions can help you identify the best ghostwriter for your project:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 is willing to ask 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.
- Are they easy to talk to? Are you comfortable speaking with them and interacting with them at length? Do your communication styles mesh well?
- 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 is likely to reflect your voice if it incorporates your words verbatim wherever possible. The final product should sound like a polished version of you.