In spite of Halloween myths, a ghostwriter is a real person. In fact, the good ones have been on the planet for several years because that’s the only way they could have collected enough experience to qualify for the ambitious task of writing someone else’s books, articles and blogs.

From Wikipedia ( is the following description of a ghostwriter, with basic information about their role and remuneration:

A ghostwriter is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other content which are officially credited to another person.

Celebrities, executives, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, magazine articles, or other written material. In music, ghostwriters are used in classical music, film composition, and popular music such as top 40, country, and hip-hop. The ghostwriter is sometimes acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her assistance.


The division of work between the ghostwriter and the credited author varies a great deal. In some cases, the ghostwriter is hired to polish and edit a rough draft or a mostly completed manuscript. In this case, the outline, ideas and much of the language in the finished book or article are those of the credited author. In other cases, a ghostwriter does most of the writing, using concepts and stories provided by the credited author.

In this case, a ghostwriter will do extensive research on the credited author or their subject area of expertise. It is rare for a ghostwriter to prepare a book or article with no input from the credited author; at a minimum, the credited author usually jots down a basic framework of ideas at the outset or provides comments on the ghostwriter's final draft.

For an autobiography, a ghostwriter will interview the credited author, their colleagues, and family members, and find interviews, articles, and video footage about the credited author or their work. For other types of nonfiction books or articles, a ghostwriter will interview the credited author and review previous speeches, articles, and interviews with the credited author, to assimilate his or her arguments and points of view.

Ghostwriters are hired for numerous reasons. In many cases, celebrities or public figures do not have the time, discipline, or writing skills to write and research a several-hundred page autobiography or "how-to" book.

Even if a celebrity or public figure has the writing skills to pen a short article, they may not know how to structure and edit a several-hundred page book so that it is captivating and well-paced. In other cases, publishers use ghostwriters to increase the number of books that can be published each year under the name of well-known, highly marketable authors.


Ghostwriters will often spend from several months to a full year researching, writing, and editing nonfiction works for a client, and they are paid either per page, with a flat fee, or a percentage of the royalties of the sales, or some combination thereof.

Having an article ghostwritten can cost “$4 per word and more depending on the complexity" of the article. Literary agent Madeleine Morel states that the average ghostwriter's advance for work for major publishers is "between $30,000 and $100,000" In 2001, the New York Times stated that the fee that the ghostwriter for Hillary Clinton's memoirs will receive is probably about $500,000 "of her book's $8 million advance, which "is near the top of flat fees paid to collaborators."

According to Ghostwriters Ink, a professional ghostwriting service, this flat fee is usually closer to an average of $12,000 to $28,000 per book. By hiring the ghostwriter for this negotiated price, the clients ultimately keep all advances and post-publishing royalties and profits for themselves.

In Canada, The Writers' Union has established a minimum fee schedule for ghostwriting. The total minimum fee for a 200-300 page book is $25,000, paid at various stages of the drafting of the book. Research fees are an extra charge on top of this minimum fee.

In Germany the average fee for a confidential ghostwriting service is about $100.00 per page.

My Ghostwriting Procedures

Following are the steps I take with a client after I sign a contract with them:

*Set up a time to meet with them vis-à-vis to spend 4-5 full working days recording all the material for the book.

*Request all the supportive documents, written material, graphics and other resource items that the client may wish to include in the book; deliver these to me during my visit (or they can mail them to me shortly thereafter).

*Upon returning from my visit with the client, I transcribe the recorded sessions and start to organize the material into categories.

*At the same time, I organize the supplemental material into categories that can be integrated with the transcribed material.

At that point, I can visualize the structure of the book.

*I set to work organizing the book chapters or divisions.

*I then “weave” together all of the material by moving through it categorically; sorting, discarding, making notes about areas where I need more input from the client, etc.

*I proceed to develop the first 50 pages of the book, which I send to the client for their input.

*I make the necessary adjustments and then proceed to develop the first draft of the entire work.

*Upon completion (it will have been proofed several times already), I send that draft to the client.

*The client reviews it carefully and then we work together to make the revisions. During this stage, often the client needs tutoring. I work closely with them, adjusting my schedule to fit their needs and often demonstrating how to effectively make these revisions.

*The client starts to send back the revised material, either a chapter at a time, or in larger segments.

*I make all of the necessary adjustments and then return the completed second draft to the client.

*The client reviews the second draft and makes other adjustments and editorial changes.

*After receiving the second draft, I make these adjustments, carefully proofread the finished manuscript several times and make the necessary corrections, then send it to the client. At this point it is considered a finished work.

*If the client wishes to make additional adjustments, I charge an hourly rate until we have satisfactorily completed the process.

The manuscript is now ready to be published.

My clients have the option of co-publishing with Dandelion Books, my company, or they can submit their work to a traditional publisher. Sometimes they choose a third option of opening their own publishing company.

Author's Bio: 

Carol Adler, MFA’s first ghost-written book listing her name as co-editor, Why Am I Still Addicted? A Holistic Approach to Recovery, was endorsed by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and published by McGraw-Hill. She has ghostwritten over 40 non-fiction and fiction works for a number of professionals in the education, health care and human potential industries. Other publications include three novels, four books of poetry, and well over 200 poems in literary journals.

Carol is President of Dandelion Books, LLC of Tempe, Arizona; a full service publishing company. She is also President and CEO of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc., Write to Publish for Profit and President of the International Arts & Media Foundation, a non-profit subsidiary of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc.

Her business experience includes co-ownership of a Palm Beach, FL public relations company and executive management positions in two U.S. rejuvenation and mind/body wellness corporations, for which she founded publishing divisions.

Carol has served as editor of several poetry and literary magazines. Her career experience includes extensive teaching of college-level creative and business writing, and conducting of writing workshops in prisons, libraries, elementary, junior and high schools, and senior citizen centers.