A ghostwriter is your partner when creating your book. In most cases, your ghostwriter will write your book in its entirety, though you may contribute your own writing as well. Really, that's up to you! All aspects of your project will remain in your control, while your ghostwriter focuses on translating your ideas into a well-written and well-structured narrative.
Note: There's something called a co-author, as well, but that is a bit different than a ghostwriter. While a co-author will receive publishing credit (i.e. her name on the cover), your ghostwriter will remain a ghost. You will be the author of your book.
While choosing a ghostwriter for your project can often be as simple as finding a wonderful writer whose personality meshes well with your own, there are a few basic guidelines to finding the perfect match:
1. Make sure your ghostwriter specializes in the type of project you are working on. If you are writing a fitness guide, you might not want to hire a ghostwriter who specializes in fiction writing. Sometimes ghostwriters don't necessarily have a specialization, and that's okay! Just make sure that your ghostwriter is familiar with your niche and understands the tone, structure and style of the book you are writing together.
2. Find a ghostwriter whose rates match up with your budget. When it comes to cost, there is quite a broad spectrum out there. Newer ghostwriters typically charge less while more experienced writers might cost you quite a bit. A 40k to 60k word book will probably cost you somewhere between $10,000 and $60,000. My advice: don't be afraid to work with an up-and-comer! Often ghostwriters who are new to the business are incredibly talented! If you are on a tight budget, perhaps you could ask a new writer to write a sample chapter for you in return for a small fee.
Note: Some ghostwriters focus on family-circulated projects, that is to say books that are meant to be read only by the author's family and close friends. These types of projects are usually less expensive. Read more about Molly's small circulation ghostwriting services.
3. Make certain your ghostwriter is able to finish your book according to your schedule. I wouldn't expect any book-length work to be completed in less than six months, but if you have a goal of completing your project in a year, it's best to make certain your ghostwriter is able to put in the hours needed to get you there on time. When considering a writer, ask about her communication policy. How often will she be in touch? When can you expect to receive drafts and edits?