How to Hire a Professional Ghostwriter to Write your Nonfiction Book

by Bennett R. Coles

Professional Ghostwriter

Hiring a professional ghostwriter to publish a nonfiction book is an excellent investment if you want to establish yourself as an industry expert but a) you don’t have the time to commit to the project or b) you do have time but writing isn’t your forte.

If you operate a successful business of any size you’re an expert already, but you may not be recognized as such beyond a relatively small circle of clients and business associates. A high-quality, well-executed nonfiction book can expand this recognition significantly.

How Will a Book Help My Business?

For starters, a book written by an expert can open many important doors that are much harder to open without one. For example, you’ll be significantly more successful in attracting media attention with a book. The same applies to lucrative contracts.

The truth is that, fair or not, books are known for triggering the psychology of fame in people and as a result you’ll be treated differently when you’re a published author. Naturally, though, your book must also be very well-written.

The media loves to interview experts that can contribute interesting topics to their audiences, and the easiest way in this door is the publication of a top-notch nonfiction book. The benefits of this kind of media exposure can be immeasurable.

Remember, most celebrity experts were unknown to the public before they published their first book, and in most cases the media played an outsize role in breaking them into the mainstream.

What Will a Professional Ghostwriter Do for Me?

As discussed above, the shortest route to a high-quality nonfiction book is to hire a professional ghostwriter. Now, you may be wondering how they work with their author clients.

First, a ghostwriter will interview you, solicit any notes and materials you may have related to your book and then become immersed in your area of expertise. They’ll begin by asking you the following three questions:

  1. Who is your ideal audience?
  2. What problem are you trying to solve for them?
  3. What unique solution do you have to offer?

Then, armed with this information, they’ll ask you to expand on the main thesis in your book. They’ll need to understand your subject matter in-depth and relate it to your audience so that they can communicate your ideas clearly and accurately.

What Will I Be Expected to Provide to the Ghostwriter?

In order for your ghostwriter to do a great job, you have to supply them with as much information as possible. Now, they don’t expect you to supply them with a finished manuscript, although if you have one they’ll welcome it.

At a minimum, you need to give them a rough outline of the areas that you want your book to cover with a few bullet points for each section. The ghostwriter will then use this information plus additional research as the basis for your interviews.

Ideally, you want to supply them with a draft table of contents and as many pages with your notes and ideas about the book as possible.

If your time is at a premium and you haven’t had the opportunity to jot things down, but you have a lot of ideas percolating in your brain, then they’ll want to sit down with you or jump on an extended call to document your ideas.

Alternatively, if you have recordings of your thoughts that you may have created over time, for the ghostwriter can take your audio files and transcribe them to be used as source material.

If you have a finished manuscript but don’t feel confident about your writing quality, don’t worry, your ghostwriter will rewrite it from top to bottom and make it shine.

They may use elements from your original manuscript for ideas, but they’ll always provide you with a 100% fresh, professional rewrite.

What Will My Working Relationship Be Like?

The author-ghostwriter relationship must be founded on trust – after all, they’ll be projecting your voice and writing your book on your behalf. Understand that your readers will assume that you’re the writer (even if the ghostwriter’s name is listed in the credits).

Therefore, you need to have an excellent rapport with them. You’ll have to allow yourself to become vulnerable during the interview process and answer questions fully and truthfully.

Having said that, if there are areas from your personal or professional life that you want to exclude from your book, you’ll have to set clear parameters ahead of time so that your ghostwriter knows what to say and what to stay away from.

The best approach is to imagine that you’re co-writing your book with a peer instead of hiring out the writing job – your ghostwriter will consult with you regularly to ensure that the book’s content and message is always on track and in line with your expectations.

What Charges Should I Expect?

Professional ghostwriters have four types of charges, depending on the nature of your book project. Some or all may apply to you.

Preparation Charge

This fee accounts for the initial contact time required to scope out the project and set the foundation for the collaboration. This time includes preliminary interviews, exchange of documents, notes, transcripts and audiotapes, cataloguing of all materials, etc.

Typical charges will range between $100 and $250 per hour depending on the ghostwriter’s experience and their reputation based on the success of their prior books.

Typical preparation charges for an average book project will fall between $3,000 and $7,500 (again, based on experience and reputation).

Research Charge

For your ghostwriter to develop a full understanding of your subject matter, they’ll need to conduct independent research. They’ll begin by researching the materials you handed to them and they’ll use this work to fill any knowledge gaps they may have.

They’ll also use research to fact-check your information since the nonfiction genre demands a high bar for accuracy.

Ghostwriters typically charge research fees on an hourly basis, ranging anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour, with the higher end usually reserved for when the author is a highly recognized person in business or politics, since the volume of research and fact-checking required may necessitate the hiring of research assistants.

A typical book project will require a budget of approximately $3,000 to be allocated for ghostwriting research.

Transcription Charge

This charge applies to any audio recordings that you provide your ghostwriter. They’ll charge you a transcription fee to convert your audio into text, and these charges typically range between $1,000 and $3,000 depending on the duration of the recordings.

Per-Word Charge

Once your ghostwriter is ready to begin crafting your manuscript the charges will become per-word, based on the total word-count of your book. These fees will range between $0.50 and $3.00 per word based on the experience and reputation of the ghostwriter.

Why Hiring a Professional Ghostwriter Makes Financial Sense

By now you might have done the math and realized that ghostwriting is not an inexpensive endeavor. But you need to consider the upside for this important investment.

For example, typical paid public speaking fees for recognized experts with a quality book can range anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 per talk before back-of-the-room book sales are factored in.

So, if you were to book 4 or 5 public speaking engagements in a year and sell an average of 120 books per event, you’ll be easily generating an additional $50,000 in revenue.

Also, as an expert with a published book you may be able to outbid competitors for lucrative contracts, especially when they don’t have a book to use as a calling card.

And there are many other advantages too numerous to list, such as lower customer acquisition costs, higher conversion rates, using the global reach of book distribution channels to open new markets around the world, and so on.

In Conclusion

By creating a nonfiction book with the help of a professional ghostwriter, you’ll be able to take your business and your career to the next level, and the many financial benefits that you will accrue over time will more than make up for the ghostwriting cost.

If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of writing a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.


Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.

Here are some related posts I highly recommend:

How to Write a Compelling Book in 12 Steps: A Must-Read Guide for Nonfiction Authors

How to Grow Your Business Writing a Nonfiction Book

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book to Help Grow Your Business?

5 Book Cover Maker Mistakes to Avoid When Designing a Nonfiction Cover

Write Your Own Book and Become an Expert: 11 Reasons Why You Should

Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Publishing Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.

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