Competence, discretion and flair.
I will write everything you would if you could, and more, and the outcome will be of publishable quality. You own the copyright (meaning that you will keep the revenue from the book or article when it’s published), your name alone will be on the cover, and anything you say to me is in confidence. Work will be completed to a deadline. These things are agreed between us according to a short letter contract we both sign before we start.
I will read material you’ve already produced but won’t necessarily include it in the same form.
If you would really rather write the whole book yourself and have me mentor your progress, then I’ll be more of an editor and our arrangements will be different. But I don’t normally expect you to write anything at all. The point, after all, is to let me do the work. As far as the world’s concerned, you are the Author. I’m just the writer and nobody should know I was involved.
Most ghostwritten books need to be in the ‘voice’ of the person whose name is on the cover – you, for instance – so that people who know you can believe that you wrote it. Part of my job is to get that right. The world-view expressed in the book is yours, not mine. This means that in almost every case we will meet face to face at least once, and I’ll need to work at least in part from interviews with you.
Depending on the content, and the agreement we reach before we begin, there may also be a certain elasticity of expression – to protect the innocent, colour in the background or liven up the action; or additional research, that I’ll carry out on your behalf.
I work on only one book, or article, at a time. I will consider most work but I don’t undertake anything I don’t feel competent to do, or won’t have time to write in the foreseeable future.