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  • Writer's pictureLaura Schaefer

How Does Ghostwriting Work?

The good news is more and more people are becoming aware that my awesome job exists. It's actually quite common, in fact. Business owners, financial advisors, real estate agents, coaches, thought leaders, associations and celebrities work with ghostwriters every day to collaborate on books, articles, booklets, website content, and other types of written materials.

Successful people are busy. It makes sense to hire a professional writer for help. We are skilled at listening, capturing our clients' unique voices, and writing with speed and skill.

If you have questions about my profession or process, I have answers.

Read on...

1. What's the difference between a ghostwriter and an editor?

An editor will make suggestions and changes to the content you've already written. A ghostwriter will interview you, create a transcript from that interview, review and incorporate existing written materials, reflect, and write something fresh for you.

2. What's the difference between a ghostwriter and a book collaborator?

Each ghostwriter is different, but generally the term involves that person writing most or all of the book content for the client. A book collaborator may write a lot of the content as well but works with the author in partnership. This means the author client will actually do some of the writing. I like this method.

The best process, I've learned over time, is for me to talk with my client via phone or Zoom, create a chapter draft from that transcribed interview, post it to Google Docs, and then have the client add in details or make direct changes to the draft. Next, I polish the changes and we have something great. Collaboration works!

3. How much do ghostwriters cost? What about book collaborators?

Experienced ghostwriters like myself generally charge $1 to $2 per word, meaning a book will project will cost in the mid five figures or low six figures. You can find a newer ghostwriter in the $15,000 to $30,000 range. Book collaborators cost the same, it's just a different term for basically the same service.

4. How long does it take to write a book?

Generally, it takes me four to six months unless the project is very complex and involves interviewing lots of different people...or my client needs to pause. I've also been known to finish a book in three months. But I'm pretty unusual that way!

5. How common is it for people to hire ghostwriters?

It is extremely common! Here are some great stories about ghostwriters and book collaborators and how we work:

6. What should I do before hiring a ghostwriter?

  • First, get crystal clear about your book topic, your goals around the book and what you want it to do for you or your business, and your target audience.

  • Next, interview at least three of us to find out how we work and to get a feel for how things will go. Trust matters, so go with your gut. You have to be able to talk to your collaborator in a deep way and feel good about it! If you're holding back or fearing judgment, the book won't work.

  • Think through your plan for getting your book published. Will you self-publish? Work with a small, hybrid, or independent press using a contact you've already established? Query literary agents in the hopes of landing a book deal with a big publisher? Your ghostwriter or book collaborator will want to know.

I hope this helps! Feel free to email me if you need further clarity on what to do next.

With love,


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