Ghostwriting is a form of writing whereby an individual or a business hires a writer to create written content on their behalf but they don’t disclose that they did not produce the written content to the reader.
Ghostwriters – a type of copywriter – are usually employed by clients who don’t have the time or necessary skills to create engaging, page-turning writing themselves.
As well as the actual writing itself, a significant proportion of a copywriter’s job involves carrying out research into the subject they’re writing about – whether they’re creating;
- an article,
- a blog post,
- a white paper,
- a speech,
- a technical document,
- an advertisement,
- a journal or
- a full-length book.
Ghostwriters are paid to remain anonymous – they know the rules. That means that any work they produce for you will be published under your own or your businesses’ name.
And given that you’ll be credited with the content, finding a reliable and highly skilled ghostwriter for your project is vitally important for your content. What they produce has to be believable, credible, engaging, action-orientated, and it has to sound like someone with your knowledge and experience wrote it.
Should I hire a ghostwriter?
If you’re writing content for your new website, working on an ad campaign, creating a downloadable white paper, drafting a business or academic journal or considering penning the next great novel, hiring a professional ghostwriter could make the difference in whether your content is successful in generating leads and sales or not.
A skilled ghostwriter is able to understand how you tick as a business leader and what your aims are in business. They adopt the style and tone of the content they write accordingly.
A freelance or in-house ghostwriter with experience writing in many different formats and on many different topics helps bring your content marketing to life with sparkling, expertly written copy that engages with your target market.
Ghostwriting services – what can you order from them?
A good copywriter or ghostwriter should be comfortable writing on just about any topic in an authoritative and engaging manner.
The art of producing crisp and concise copy is centered around how something is said rather than on just what is said.
With so many skilled copywriters to choose from however, it is still worth researching ghostwriters who specialise in your field of work.
Those ghostwriters with experience in your sector will be able to hit the ground running saving you time and money and further strengthening the copy with their knowledge and insight.
Is ghostwriting legal?
Yes, ghostwriting is perfectly legal and you’d be surprised at how prevalent it is. From a favourite book to a business white paper, ghostwriting and ghostwriters are everywhere.
Ghostwriting is typically undertaken by writing professionals on behalf of individuals and businesses – the best ghostwriting gets to the very heart of your business, it captures the reader’s imagination, and it leaves no doubt about the value you deliver to your customers.
From a legal standpoint, ghostwriting falls under ‘work for hire’ and, under copyright law, this must follow two conditions:
- one, that the work must be carried out by an employee under normal employment terms, or
- two, that the work is carried out by a third-party contractor such as a freelance ghostwriter.
Can the use of a ghostwriter be kept confidential?
One of the main reasons a business or individual hires a copywriter is to produce work that appears as if it’s been written by themselves. For this reason, it’s imperative that a ghostwriter’s involvement is kept confidential.
Before starting a project, make sure that your chosen ghostwriter signs a non-disclosure agreement which will prevent them from claiming credit for the work, telling anyone else about the project, or including it in their portfolio
Occasionally, there may be a reason why you’d actually want a ghostwriter’s involvement known – for example, if you’ve hired an expert in a specific field and it will bolster your brand’s credibility by mentioning them.
Ghostwriting – do I own the copyright?
In the vast majority of cases, you will legally own all of the work that a ghostwriter produces on your behalf.
We’ll get onto how to draft a legally binding contract with your hired help shortly but UK copyright law states that as soon as any written work is created it is protected by law. However, a ghostwriter will usually waive any rights to ownership of their work once they’ve been paid in full.
Unless otherwise specified, all sales proceeds, royalties, etc. from any work you hire a ghostwriter to do are yours.
Ghost article writing – will I be able to review the work?
As the customer, it’s up to you whether you ask a ghostwriter to produce the copy in one go or if you prefer to periodically review the work.
As things can sometimes get lost in translation and the scope of a writing project can change over time, we’d highly recommend the latter option. This approach gives you the chance to see how the writing is shaping up and it offers you the opportunity to provide feedback that will dictate how any subsequent work is carried out.
You know your business better than anyone else so it’s up to you to let the writer know:
- if they have adopted the correct tone of voice,
- if they have carried out the right research, and
- if they are working in the direction that you desire.
Put simply, it’s easier for a ghostwriter to make amendments to a single chapter or page of copy than it is to completely rewrite the work from scratch.
How much involvement does a ghostwriter have?
Generally speaking, a ghostwriter will use the research materials you provide to them.
The material you provide could be:
- a rough manuscript,
- a half-finished speech,
- a series of scrawled notes. or
- the outline for a magazine article
Your ghostwriter will then transform the source materials into a finished piece of engaging and articulate copy that’s true to your brand and tone of voice.
However, ghostwriters are also able to work independently with little contribution from yourself – creating an entire book from cover to cover if required.
Even in these instances, however, we still believe it’s best that you get involved to at least some level in the research and writing process to make sure the project is on point.
Commercial writers – how much does a ghostwriter cost?
Depending on the complexity of your project and the level of research and writing involved, fees for a UK ghostwriter can vary significantly. Below, we’ve broken down some typical costs involved in hiring a ghostwriter and the ways in which fees are calculated.
By the project
For larger pieces of work – including full-length novels, scripts, technical manuals and memoirs – you can usually expect to pay by the project. The price you can expect to pay will depend on the ghostwriter’s level of skill, work history, and areas of expertise as well as the speed at which you require the work to be turned around.
On average, a senior ghostwriter with a wealth of experience under their belts will charge around £10,000 for a large writing project, or a lot more if they’re writing a book on behalf of a well-known person.
Ghostwriters at the start of their careers will typically charge £2,000-£5,000 for a large project spread over a number of months and paid according to the milestone achieved.
By the page
Both consumer magazines and trade journals use ghostwriters to research and write articles, business columns, op-eds and white papers.
You would be expected to supply your chosen ghostwriter with a specific set of parameters to work with, including presentation formats.
This sort of work is usually paid for by the page and can cost between £100-£300 depending on the complexity of the work and your chosen turnaround time.
By the word
For ghostwriting projects such as pamphlets, press releases, advertorials and small brochures, ghostwriters are typically paid by the word.
Word-count payments usually range from 25p-£4 per word depending on the subject matter and size of the organisation hiring the ghostwriter.
By the hour
Ghostwriters who charge an hourly fee for writing work often build in consultation fees to their price.
This financial agreement can work well if you’re looking to hire a ghostwriter for a long-term project, essentially hiring the writing professional on a retainer basis.
Whether you employ the services of a ghostwriter to…
- write a white paper,
- pen a journal article,
- write a syndicated column or book, or
- reinvigorate your existing marketing materials
…you can expect to pay between £75-£250 per hour for a professional UK-based ghostwriter.
Ghostwriters for books, e-books, and white papers
If you need to find a ghostwriter for a book or an e-book to use in your sales and marketing promotions, it’s better to find an experienced business book ghostwriter with the skills needed to help you deliver a return on your investment.
E-books are popular giveaways for potential clients– aim to find a skilled ebook ghostwriter who has knowledge of the field your business specialises in.
Ghost writers for business books, meanwhile, would be better able to work with you on the production of white papers – for use later on during the sales process.
How long does it take for a ghostwriter to write an e-book or journal?
Depending on the amount of time it takes to carry out research and conduct any interviews with subjects, a full-length book or ebook can take up from a few weeks for it to be completed.
Over the course of this time, a good ghostwriter will send you chapters and pages for you to review and they will take on board any feedback you may have.
Shorter books on less complex subjects will likely take a much shorter period to complete.
If you’re producing a downloadable white paper or a small journal, then you can expect your finished copy back in as little as two weeks.
What should you include in a contract with a ghostwriter?
Once you’ve chosen a ghostwriter to work with – whether it’s a freelance writer or a copywriting agency (we’ll get onto that shortly) – you should draft up a contract outlining the services, timeframes and costs that you’ve agreed upon, which should then be signed by both parties.
A contract doesn’t have to be a lengthy, complex document – in fact, the most effective ones are usually simple and to the point. Whoever you decide to work with, the likelihood is that they’ll already have an existing contract template in place which can be tweaked for the needs of your project.
Some common terms that should be included in a ghostwriting contract, include:
- A general overview of the work to be carried out by your ghostwriter, including any research, interviews, drafting, editing, proofreading, word and chapter counts. A contract should also outline any additional services that may be required such as rewrites, graphic design, printing and marketing.
- Costs and payment schedules including any deposit or retainer amount, ad hoc payments throughout the writing project, and final payment upon completion of the work.
- Timing of key aspects of the ghostwriting project should be mapped out including when you will be presented with drafts and the due date for the final, finished copy.
- A nondisclosure statement or agreement outlining terms of transfer of ownership of the ghostwriting work to yourself at the end of the writing process and any details of the work that can and can’t be talked about publicly by the ghostwriter.
- Include any additional information that is relevant to your ghostwriting project including details of what happens in the event that the work cannot be completed on time or if the scope of the project changes during the writing process.
- Transfer of copyright upon completion of the ghostwriting project should also be noted in your contract.
If you’re considering hiring a ghostwriter, make sure that you have a signed and dated contract before starting the project – this protects both you and the ghostwriter.
Get a ghostwriter for your next project with More Than Words
As we’ve previously mentioned, it’s important that you hire the right ghostwriter for the job – not just in terms of timescale and cost but also in their ability and areas of expertise.
Not all ghostwriters are equal and finding one which meets your specific project requirements can be a time-consuming task.
There are two main ways of recruiting a ghostwriter – either using a website to hire a freelancer, or by contacting a specialist copywriting agency.
Freelancing writing websites
You could post a “freelancer writers needed” or “freelance writers wanted” notice on sites like UpWork or People Per Hour.
You would need to specify to the writers that you contact that the copyright of the work they produce will belong to you and that they are not allowed to include it in the portfolio of work they send to other potential clients.
Many freelance writing careers start on these types of site fulfilling freelance writing assignments with these types of stipulation.
You are more likely to find cheap ghostwriters on freelance sites than you are by contacting a copywriting services company.
Ghostwriters’ fees tend to be less on freelancing sites because the people on them are more likely to have become recently self-employed and they’re looking for clients – they’re able to work at these rates because they don’t have the overheads of larger article writing service companies.
If the project you’re working on is technical, you may find higher quality writers by searching profiles for:
- “business ghostwriter”, “freelance writer editor”, “financial writer” and
- experience in editorial writing, feature writing, or freelance technical writing
You may also wish to search for “substitute writer” – this is another name for a ghost writer often used by clients.
Other websites worth investigating include Writers For Hire, Ghostwriter Inside, Scripted and Ghostwriters Central.
Ghostwriting copy agency
Another option is to hire a copywriting company such as More Than Words to carry out your ghostwriting.
An established, office-based agency such as ours has many years of writing experience and an in-house team of copywriters dedicated to creating eye-catching copy in a timely manner.
As well as a proven track record of delivering thoroughly researched and sharply written ghostwriting work that has helped countless UK businesses engage with more customers and increase their sales, we’re able to offer a range of supplementary services including graphic design, GDPR-compliant email marketing, telemarketing, blogging and social media content creation.
To find out more about More Than Words and the B2B services we offer, please give us a call on 0330 010 8300 or click here to email us.