What is Ghostwriting?

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I get this question often when I meet someone new: “What is ghostwriting?” It’s not that the concept of creating content for others is foreign to the people asking this question. Usually, they’re asking because they’ve never met a ghostwriter before or they don’t think of “ghostwriter” as a common career path. 

Often they follow up with, “Oh, I thought only celebrities and politicians hired ghostwriters.” In reality though, a lot of experts use ghostwriters. Almost every big corporation or organization has an in-house marketing department. When writers in the marketing department create content for the organization’s website, they are essentially ghostwriting.

If you own a small business, you might outsource your marketing. When your fractional Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) hires freelance writers to create blog articles, landing pages, email campaigns, social media posts, or any other content marketing, they are essentially ghostwriting.

In the business world, anytime a professional writer creates content that gets published without their name on it, they are essentially ghostwriting. So chances are good that you’ve encountered many ghostwriters without realizing it. You may have even been a ghostwriter yourself. 

Let’s take a closer look at what a ghostwriter can do for you and whether hiring a ghostwriter is right for you.

What Can a Ghostwriter Do For You?

Most CEOs and business owners recognize that businesses need A LOT of content. When I say content I mean any form of medium that is consumed by your target audience. This could be written, audio, or video.

At a minimum, you need:

  • Website content to tell prospects, investors, and other stakeholders what you do and how you do it.
  • Blog articles to keep the content on your website fresh and to include SEO keywords so that your website climbs higher in search results.
  • Social media content to reach new prospects, nurture current customers, and convert prospects into customers.
  • Bios and social media profiles of key team members to help you build relationships with prospects and customers.
  • Email content to nurture and convert your 1,000 true fans

A ghostwriter can help with any or all of the above. As I said above, you’re probably already using ghostwriters in some capacity through your marketing and branding efforts. And if you truly are creating all the content for yourself, either you’re in the very early stages of running your business or you are a content creator yourself.

With simple businesses, it’s quite possible to get away with creating your own content. I hired a branding person to create some website pages and I have used a ghostwriter to create blog content for me in the past. I also have a social media manager who creates posts for Instagram and Twitter. 

But I write 90% of my own content and I always see content creation playing a big role in how I run my business. I’m a writer. It’s what I do. So this makes perfect sense for me. 

However, I would never do my own taxes and I don’t edit my own videos (anymore). Delegating is a key component to growing your business and content creation is a perfectly reasonable thing to delegate. Where could you use a ghostwriter to take some of the content creation work off of your plate?

Ghostblogging

One place to dip your toes in the water, if you’re new to the idea of hiring a ghostwriter, is to outsource your blog writing. I have several monthly ghostblogging clients who come to me with ideas for their blogs and no time to write those blogs for themselves. 

After spending about 30 minutes with me, we can generally map out three blog ideas (recommend publishing three blogs per month). I write each draft (750-1,000 words) and take each article through an editing process — with clients having as much or as little involvement as they prefer. Then the client is free to distribute them however they see fit. 

One big mistake most companies make is that they spend 75% of their time creating content and 25% of their time distributing their content. This is really backwards. When the majority of your content is being released to crickets, that time spent creating content is virtually wasted. 

With a ghostwriter, you can focus on your distribution strategy and rest assured that your target audience is actually seeing your fabulous content. This is a huge advantage!

Hint: If it takes you more than four hours to write a blog article, consider hiring a ghostwriter. Good ghostwriters charge up to $250 per blog article, so you simply have to do the math (I bet you pay yourself more than $100 per hour) to determine whether outsourcing makes sense.

Business Book Ghostwriting  

Most of my clients and fans find me because they are looking for a ghostwriter for a business book. This is another place where a ghostwriter can add a ton of value.

Writing a book takes longer and requires more effort than most first-time authors realize. Even if you regularly create content for your business and even if you often write presentations that land you on global or international stages, writing a book is a whole different animal.

Again, as with blogging, if you spend a year or two of your time writing a book and you sell less than 50 copies, all that time is wasted effort. Hiring a ghostwriter frees you up to focus on the marketing, P.R., and ramp up to your book launch. But should you even write a book?

I encourage my clients to consider a few things before they decide whether writing a book makes sense:

1. What is the business case for writing your book?

In other words, how does the book fit in with your current business model? How will having a book affect your current business model? Is this a change you would invite? How will this book make you more money? Will it allow you to increase your consulting fees, go after paid speaking gigs, help you sell more seats in your online course?

Hint: You aren’t likely to make much money on book sales alone, unless you already have a huge following. (To get on the New York Times bestseller list, you need to sell at least 25,000 copies of your book. And that’s one of the only ways to make a lot of money on book sales.)

2. Are you ready to invest in your book as you would invest in any new product or service launch?

The key to getting your book in front of your ideal clients is treating it as if you’re launching a new product or service. What would you do if you were creating a course you wanted to fill? You would create a marketing plan, hire the marketing support you would need to implement the plan, and spend three to four months working your plan. 

Hint: If you write your book and think putting it up on Amazon counts as marketing, you’re going to be disappointed with your results. According to the most recent report, there are over 300,000 books published each year in the U.S.

3. How does the book amplify your personal brand?

If you haven’t yet established a strong personal brand, writing a book can help you gain a lot of clarity. Of course, this requires working with a ghostwriter who has a very collaborative process.

Here’s how my process works: 

Over the course of 16 weeks, you and I work closely to breathe life into your book idea. We meet for 60 minutes weekly to discuss each chapter or section of the book, then I go away and write about whatever we discussed. You review the chapters I write as they are completed and we work together to edit the manuscript. I always aim to write a full draft in eight weeks, which give us plenty of time to work through two full rounds of revisions.

On the other hand, if you don’t yet have a strong personal brand and you choose a ghostwriter who is more hands-off, you risk ending up with a book that feels stale or inconsistent with your brand down the road.

Hint: Make sure you are secure with your brand before you write a book. Think about writing a book the same way you think about your logo. You want something that aligns with your growing business. The time to write a book is likely not in your first couple of years of owning your business. 

How to Hire a Ghostwriter

So, you’ve taken everything I’ve said above to heart and you’re seriously considering taking the plunge. How do you go about finding a ghostwriter?

Well, you’ve landed on my website and hiring me is as simple as clicking on my contact form or sending me a friendly email request for a discovery call (emily@thepocketphd.com). I love to chat with experts about their business book ideas! Seriously. If I could make a living brainstorming with new authors, I totally would make that my full time gig (a girl can dream, right?).

What’s that you say? I’m not a good fit? How will you know unless you jump on a call with me? Okay, suppose for the sake of argument, I’m not the best ghostwriter for you. You can always hop over to LinkedIn and search for ghostwriters there. LinkedIn is a great place to hunt for ghostwriters. Start up some conversations, get a feel for who is available, and start shopping.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to hiring a ghostwriter is that their work is confidential. I can’t simply send you a list of the book titles I’ve written because I extend full confidentiality to all of my clients. Not everyone wants the world to know they had help writing their book.

However, I can tell you that I’ve written books with neuropsychologists, medical professionals, financial advisors, investment bankers, executive coaches, and consultants. I’m also pleased to put you in touch with former clients as long as they agree (and they always do!). So you know I’m for real.

I encourage you to vet your ghostwriter in whatever way makes you feel most comfortable. Your ghostwriter will likely ask you to sign a contract, so as with all contracts, read it carefully and ask questions.

Is a Ghostwriter Right for You?

If you’re still with me, you’ve gotten a crash course in what ghostwriting is and what a ghostwriter can do for you. There’s only one question left: “Is a ghostwriter right for you?”

You don’t need my permission not to write your book. But if it helps, then, permission granted! There are any number of reasons you might want to be a published author. But none of those reasons are good reasons to write your own book. Ghostwriting offers you the real chance to have your cake and eat it too.

Worried someone might find out you didn’t write your own book? What does that worry really mean? Your ideas are your ideas. All I’m doing as your ghostwriter is allowing you to outsource the writing. You aren’t cheating by using a ghostwriter any more than you’re cheating on your taxes when you hire a CPA.

Also, with guaranteed confidentiality, how would someone find out you didn’t write your own book? If your real worry is that you won’t know what’s in your book after it’s published, I’ll ask you to consider the value of my collaborative process. You will be involved every step of the way. This book will be in your voice and it will feel like yours because it is yours.

Worried you’re somehow a fraud if you don’t write your own book? Again, your ideas are your ideas. As business owners we’re comfortable finding support for all aspects of our businesses. We hire coaches to help us figure out how to scale. We hire assistants to manage projects and keep our operations running smoothly. We hire marketing experts to bring in leads. Do we feel like a fraud when we rely on support in these areas? I don’t. And I hope you don’t either. 

Ghostwriting is simply another type of business support. I would argue it’s one of the most cost efficient investments you can make. When you hire a ghostwriter, you’re investing in yourself. Not only will you get your book done, you’ll also be giving yourself more time to invest in revenue-generating areas of your business.

So if investing in yourself and getting a book that’s better than what you would have written on your own in between the cracks and crevices of operating within your zone of brilliance is not right for you, then I truly have wasted your time. 

However, if all of this sounds good to you, then let’s chat! Your book isn’t going to write itself, but hiring me to ghostwrite your book is the next best thing.  

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