Have you ever wondered what a ghostwriter is and how it works? Or more simply how to become one and how much you earn with this job? I, a ghost writer, am here to reveal to you the secrets of this professional profession!

The Ghostwriter, known in Europe as Shadow Writer or Phantom Writer, is an editorial figure who is hired to write a textual content, be it a book, a story or an e-book, based on the idea of another person , which does not have the time and / or the ability to write it, giving up intellectual and commercial rights to it.

This figure in Europe is not yet very well known, although there are many people who request Ghostwriting services, especially among the so-called VIPs, who often do not have the skills to write their own biography correctly.

But what are the characteristics of a Ghostwriter? How do you work? How do you make it? In this article we will try to discover all the secrets of this truly intriguing and, in many ways, complex publishing profession.

Who is the Ghostwriter

The term ghostwriter literally means ghost writer, or shadow writer, or a writer who writes stories, letters, speeches, biographies and manuscripts that are commissioned by others, which will in all respects be the sole owners of the finished work. The word ghost refers in fact to the invisibility of the author of the book, which assigns all the rights to the purchaser of the work, remaining, often, unknown.

Many famous people use the services of these professionals, as we can see from the large number of players and actors who publish books in their name. These are actually written by professional ghost writers who in their contract give ownership of the manuscript to the customer, without being recognized as such. However, the commissioner of the manuscript may decide to recognize and cite the shadow writer in his book.

When this happens, the shadow writer receives a partial credit on the edited book, usually inserted in the cover with the phrase “with * name ghostwriter *”. If the credit is not included in the cover it is usually added as a thank you in the preface or introduction.

How it works

the world of Ghostwriting is quite varied and there are different types of both shadow writers and work writers. Writers must in fact be flexible and adapt to the needs of the person who will boast the rights of the work.

Shadow writers dealing with biographies, for example, begin with in-depth interviews with the client. In the most fortunate cases, especially when dealing with famous people, writers will follow their clients during the days and different daily experiences, so as to have the opportunity both to listen to his words and to see the gestures and to understand the world.

Writing a biography is in fact an activity that requires a direct meeting with the client and a rather intimate collaboration. In fact, telling a person’s life is a very delicate activity that requires great attention.

Then there are two other types of work.

Sometimes it happens that the ghostwriter is hired directly by a publishing house, which uses its services to publish a book with the name of a more famous author. This is a frequent operation that allows publishers to increase the number of books that can be published under the name of a famous author, and thus significantly increase earnings. The problem comes when the publishers send writers parts of the book or entire rough drafts that must be completely revised.

In this situation the writer must rework the texts and take care to develop them as the original author intended. He will therefore often have to contact the author of the drafts to discuss and align his review with his ideas.

Finally the writer can work directly with the client, without going through a publishing house. This is usually done in the marketing world, where professionals in various fields use shadow writers to write and review books and ebooks needed for their marketing and lead generation activities. I myself have written more than once an ebook for my clients and revised books just for this purpose.

Why hire him

The reasons for hiring a ghostwriting expert are many. The main ones, however, are five:

  • Due to lack of time: it often happens that the commissioner of the realization of a book is a particularly busy person, who has no possibility to draw up the book by himself for lack of time.
  • To realize one’s own idea: there are also people who have wonderful ideas, but they lack the skills to write a book. Using a ghost writer, I can finally see the idea they had in mind.
  • For your marketing objectives: more and more often professionals from different sectors hire ghostwriters to be able to create textual content necessary for their marketing activities. Ebook for inbound marketing, articles for your corporate blog and ebooks for lead generation strategies.

Because you have no ideas: sometimes this also happens, or a black period, that of the typical writer’s block, where an author fails to have good insights for a new story or good ideas to conclude those already in mind. At this point he relies on a ghost writer to be able to come up with an interesting book with him. Then there are shadow writers, like me, who also make themselves available to the stage of story design, creating subjects and plots for books, stories, comics and films.

Because it has too many ideas: the opposite case, frequent in those authors endowed with tireless minds, is when a client has so many ideas to develop, so many stories to tell, that the need to use the service of a second writer to write them all.

How much you earn

There is a great discrepancy both in the gains made by foreign ghostwriters and by European ones, which are decidedly lower on average, and among the gains made by the European writers themselves. The price for a ghostwriting service can range from starvation wages, as much as € 5-600 for a 200 page book, to a fee of € 4-5,000 for a medium length book.

Prices vary depending on the client and the type of company that manages the service. If the Writer is hired by a large publishing house, the standard fee for an average book is around 5 thousand euros, while the smaller publishers pay about 2 thousand euros.

When instead we make use of private professional writers or who carry out their activities as freelancers, the cost can vary from 1500 to 10 thousand euros per book.

This is about books. Earnings, on the other hand, for screenplays, letters, speeches and stories vary from activity to activity.

How to become a Ghostwriter

In recent years, where technology seems to have gained the upper hand, publishing professions are increasingly in demand, because they have returned to give great value to the written word. In this context the figure of the Shadow Writer is increasingly in demand, which is why it becomes interesting to discover how to become a ghostwriter.

More and more people are interested in becoming freelance shadow writers, and making money writing, while losing all rights to their own works. Today, thanks to the internet, becoming a ghost writer and finding a job as such can be quite simple, but you have to have some fundamental characteristics and have in mind what kind of ghost writer you want to be.

First of all, we must have undeniable writing skills.

A ghost writer should not limit himself to knowing perfectly the language and knowing how to write grammatically and lexically correct texts, but he must be able to write pleasant and legible texts, in a nutshell, beautiful.

Another important characteristic that a professional in the sector should boast is a good relational ability, which will allow him to speak and interview his clients and align his work with those that are the demands and needs of customers.

Moving on to the practical side, to become a shadow writer it is first of all fundamental which direction of this work is to be undertaken.

What kind of ghost writer do you want to become?

Today shadow writers are essentially divided into two: the real ghostwriters, or rather those who write books, short stories and biographies, and copywriters or columnists, who deal with writing articles mainly for the Web.

Each of these two ways of ghostwriting requires a different approach.

How to become ghost writers

First of all, you need a portfolio that demonstrates your literary ability. You need to have articles, stories or entire books written in your own hand, to show future clients your competence.

Once this is done, you can proceed in different ways. You can contact the publishers directly, presenting yourself as a beginning ghostwriter and showing your work, or you can decide to start your own business where you deal with ghostwriting.

In this second case it will be necessary to open a website / blog, open the VAT number and be known. Write about yourself, let your name be known and create a blog in which you talk about the world of writing, so as to show you prepared and competent.