29th October 2017


There are plenty of reasons for an author to hire a ghostwriter.

Yes, it’s true:  authors don’t always write their own books.

This ghostwriting lark has been going on for centuries.  Our top, hunter ancestors relied on live-in artists to daub up the next day’s grocery list all over the cave walls.

Monks did it all the time – leaving lovely little messages about themselves and daily news in the margins of sacred texts … We’re not allowed to that now, but you’re bound to find a smattering of your ghostwriter’s voice in your project.  Go with it – it can only add to the richness of tone.

Margin 4

A friar dancing with a nun


Yes, this is all about the ghosties!  Hallowe’en, and all that.

Authors hire ghostwriters to write their books, features, white papers, blogs and so on for them.

If you want the kudos of having a book/blog/white paper/press release out there with your name on it but don’t have the time or expertise to write it, hire a ghostwriter.

Here are some of my favourite phrases I hear on a ghostwriting briefing:

“We’re so in-sync!”

“How did you know that’s how I felt?”

“YES!!  Those were EXACTLY my words!”

All of these phrases come up regularly in brieftakes between clients and good writers.


How come?  After all, ghostwriters are not telepathic.  We can’t see into your mind and relive your memories with you, regardless of how spookily ‘on-point’ we might seem at times.

Rather, we’re empathic.  We’re trained to listen well, to place ourselves in your shoes as you’re reliving a memory.  We add our own life experiences and those we’ve learned from elsewhere to yours even as you tell it.

But, business author be warned – there’s something you should bear in mind before you hire a ghostwriter:

After that heady, romantic brieftake, YOU have responsibilities, too.

In the briefing, we creative types focus on a multitude of things.



  • Your narrative: what happened, where, when, to whom, and why?
  • Do you have a story for me to tell? To sell?
  • How are you narrating the story?: nervously, happily, bitterly, deceptively, rolling about laughing? (Yes, we read body language as well as the black and white stuff)
  • Who’s your target market? You might be surprised to find that you have more than one.
  • Where should we start and end your story for the utmost intrigue?
  • Who are your main characters, how should we develop them and how should they speak?
  • Where should we add drama?
  • How long will it take realistically to complete your project?
  • If so, do we help you self-publish or try the traditional route?
  • Are you serious about seeing this through, and will you be co-operative?


The list goes on – and all of those questions pop up in your ghostwriter’s mind during the very first meeting.

Above all, though, the GHOSTWRITER’S MAIN QUESTION before taking on your project is this:

“Will you commit to regular, open and honest communication with me?”

Without that commitment, our road together is going to be short.  Time and effort is your responsibility.  No magic spells, here:  ghosties are not telepathic – they’re grafters.

Ghostwriters write in your voice, but never forget that they have their own, too.  It takes years of crafting expertise, knowledge and publishing success for a ghostwriter to write in another’s voice – especially when it comes to fiction.

Margin 5

A Woman Churning Butter. Another Grafter.

When you hire a ghostwriter, be realistic.  You can’t expect someone to magic up the goods at the wave of a wand.  It’s a collaboration of honoured, diarised conversations, swift answers to requests for specific information, respectful adherence to deadlines and respect for signed conditions of payment.

If you can’t commit to the ghostwriting process, then the other option is to write it yourself and hire an editor afterwards instead.  Or section by section as you progress at your own pace, however long it may take.

If you decide to hire ghostwriter to write your project for you, you will benefit from having an expert taking over the production of a publication from which you can make an income for years to come.

But you still need to commit to spending time on your collaborative project.  If any ghostie tells you otherwise, their invoices are not the kind you want coming back to haunt you …

Take care of your ghosties – and Happy Hallowe’en!

Jo Collie

CHIEF IMAGINANTCopy of p-danks011 B&W - Copy