Hannah’s top tips for hiring a ghostwriter

  • Arrange an introductory meeting (on Zoom if necessary) before you make a decision. Don’t expect your writer to have loads in common with you, but do find someone you can talk to. Ghostwriters can generally work with you regardless of your politics or past misdemeanours as long as they like you. Anything they don’t understand they will ask you to explain, in minute detail. To write your book they have to put themselves in your shoes.
  • Before the introductory meeting, consider carefully what you will want them to write about. If anything you have to say in the initial meeting may somehow be damaging, then ask the ghostwriter to sign a simple confidentiality agreement/non-disclosure letter (no more than a few lines). You’ll keep a copy and so will the writer. In the pandemic, you can do this by email.
  • Get it in writing. Begin work with the writer only when you’ve read and signed a contract. If this happens through an agent or publisher, there may well be clauses allowing the ghostwriter a share of the publisher’s advance payment, and of subsequent royalty payments. However even if your arrangement with the ghostwriter is arranged between both parties privately, for a ‘buyout’ (a set fee, usually payable in stages), please make it legal. You both need some kind of enforceable agreement about, at the very least, copyright, money, deadlines, interview arrangements and confidentiality before you start work together. If the ghostwriter has a contract at the ready, read it before you sign and if you are out of your depth, take a solicitor’s advice.

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