“Should I hire a ghostwriter…or do the writing myself?”

“Should I hire a ghostwriter…or do the writing myself?”


Hi Angela!

This might be the wrong venue to ask this question but I will try anyway! I am not a writer but I have been tossing around the idea of either writing a book about my life (in public service), or having someone else write the book. I’ve experiencing some interesting and unique situations. Do you suggest trying to write it myself or is there someone I should talk to that could be interested in writing it? Also, do you think this would be an interesting topic worth writing about…


I receive emails like this all the time from people who have a story to tell, but don’t know how to go about telling it. Unfortunately, most of them go something like this: “I was a victim of child abuse,” “I was railroaded by the government,” “My ex-husband tried to kill me,” “I have a really great idea for a novel that would also make a great movie,” etc. However, you provided me with additional details and, you’re right. Your experiences would be great to read in a book! I would definitely buy it.

Hiring a ghostwriter can be VERY expensive. Many people make the mistake of assuming a ghostwriter will offer their services for free up-front, with the promise of a share of the royalties later. That’s not going to happen. They’re either going to charge you by the hour, or quote you a flat fee for the entire project. Either way, you’re going to need to pay a down-payment in the beginning, with installments due incrementally as the project progresses. If a ghostwriter requires 100% payment up front, run as fast as you can away from them.

A good ghostwriter can charge thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to research, write, and edit a good book. Ghostwriting a book for another person, based on their life, can take hundreds of hours due to the time required for interviews, research, writing, and editing. And, of course, the client (the person being written about) will always have numerous additions, deletions, and edits they’ll want to make toward the end of the project. This adds even more time to the project, which is why so many ghostwriters charge by the hour.

If you have the time, you might want to consider writing it yourself, and then hiring a freelance editor. That would be a far cheaper way to go.

If you don’t land a traditional contract, or if you’re thinking about self-publishing, please submit your manuscript for consideration to BookLocker. Even if you have it published elsewhere, please let me know when the book comes out so I can buy a copy. 🙂

Please also see:

The Most Common Question I Hear: “I want to write and publish a book. Where do I start?”


12 Ways to Avoid Getting Sued When Writing Your Memoirs
Don’t Invite a Lawsuit with Your Memoir
Don’t Invite Lawsuits by Real People Featured in Your Book! (Hint: You Can Still Be Sued Even If You Don’t Name Them!)
Boldly Assuming You “Can’t Be Sued” Will Likely Lead to a Lawsuit
Publishing Other People’s Non-fiction Stories Can Get You Sued
Want to Get Sued? Write About Your Ex
Am I at Risk of Being Sued?
Did Your Lawyer Say, “You Can’t Be Sued?” BEWARE
When Relatives Say, “Don’t Write About Me!”

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2 Responses to "“Should I hire a ghostwriter…or do the writing myself?”"

  1. Wendy Jones  August 4, 2017 at 10:37 pm

    A lot of people want to write a book simply to leave their mark somewhere. To the people out there, who have enough commitment to make it through even the roughest draft, I say – go for it! Do the best job you can up front – now get help editing it – and finally, publish it promptly. It’s your story and only you can tell it like it is. You’ll have a whole lot of personal satisfaction in doing it, even if it only sells a dozen copies.

  2. Sarah Bates  August 4, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Regarding the ghostwriter question, years ago a man contacted me asking if I would ghost his story. Intrigued I met with him only to find what he really wanted was for me to splice together his life story he’d written that filled an entire three-drawer filing cabinet. I got out of there as politely as I could because he didn’t want a writer, he wanted a secretary with a huge role of tape!