When you hire for a writer for your ebook, what you are doing is enlisting the services of a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter is a writer who publishes under someone else’s name, with the consent of both parties.
Traditionally, ghostwriters have been and are still today hired by celebrities to write autobiographies when the celebrities are not talented writers. Ghostwriters also sometimes create works for well-known authors, such as Tom Clancy. This practice is done for business reasons, because the author’s name alone will sell the books, no matter who actually wrote them.
Ghostwriters may also write for book series’ that don’t actually have a real-person author. An example of a series written this way is the Hardy Boys series you may remember from your youth. The Hardy Boys cover author, Franklin W. Dixon, does not actually exist. Many romance novel series’ have also been created in this way, where the author name on the cover represents any number or variety of commissioned writers.
With the advent of the Internet and ebooks, today, ghostwriters also write ebooks. When you outsource your ebook to a ghostwriter, you are giving them the job of creating the words in your ebook in exchange for a fee. You still get to put your own author name on the finished product. Ultimately you will own the copyright, and you can sell the ebook as many times as you like. If it sounds like a pretty nice arrangement, it is. It’s all completely legal and commonly done. And you do not have to be a celebrity or Tom Clancy to hire one.
Great things about ghostwriters
Just because a ghostwriter does the writing does not mean that you do not deserve to be the credited author. You will be the originator of the idea, and provide direction to the ghostwriter, so that the written material reflects what you want it to say. You may also create a pen name for yourself if you wish your real name to remain anonymous to casual readers.
Once you hand off the reins to a ghostwriter to prepare an ebook for you, you may never go back and try to write one yourself ever again. A ghostwriter can do so many things for you, from researching to editing. And any writer knows that the process of writing and polishing a book or an ebook takes a significant amount of time. Much more than most readers will ever know. Start-to-finish writing is a large task best left to those who love their jobs, who are willing to spend the time writing and re-writing incessantly until things are just right, and who has talent and experience in the craft.
What they can do
You can outsource more than just rote writing to a ghostwriter. In fact, ghostwriters can be hired to research your topic fully on the Internet or elsewhere. They can then translate your or their research into organized sections and create palatable, conversational paragraphs for your readers. They can interview people that you designate or that they seek out for the ebook.
They can separate the ebook-worthy material from non-ebook-worthy material for inclusion with an eye on what readers are interested in and what you have hired them to write about. In other words, good ghostwriters will stay on the topic as they write and not veer off into irrelevant tangents. It’s actually an art form in itself to be able to insert quips and images that are designed to hold a reader’s interest while quickly and smoothly getting back on track to deliver the information promised by the title and table of contents.
Speaking of the table of contents, an experienced ghostwriter can review rough notes from you and propose a title and table of contents. Ghostwriters can start from notes, organize the material into an outline, generate a table of contents, research and add filling text, make boring information flow like an entertaining conversation, and more. They can basically start with whatever you’ve got to start with and get you from there to a completed ebook.
If you have already tried your hand at preparing an ebook, a ghostwriter can whip your existing draft ebook into sell-able shape. She can review the content, make suggestions, do necessary research, add new sections, repair grammar, or revise any not-quite-perfect portions of the ebook. In fact, it has been known to happen sometimes that one ghostwriter will be hired to edit another ghostwriter’s work. This may be done in a case where you are not satisfied with the result from the first ghostwriter, or can also be done if you just want to polish your product – going on the two heads are better than one philosophy.
She can use a writing style and language that is appropriate for the book. Should it be in first person like this ebook is? Or perhaps it would work better in third person like many reference books are written. Should it be written from a female or male perspective? Ghostwriters will accommodate your preferences, and if you don’t know your preferences, ghostwriters can help you make those decisions.
She can put the ebook into the format that you choose. If you want your pages to appear the size of regular notebook paper (about 8 ½ inches by 11 inches), then the writer can prepare the manuscript to fit. If you like large margins, where the text appears in-between in a narrower column, the ghostwriter can do that. Narrow column ebooks are popular, and easy on the eyes. If you like a blank page preceding chapters, ask for that. For items such as page dimensions, font, and layout, she can make recommendations. She can also, in most cases, provide you the electronic file type that you prefer (MS Word, WordPerfect, Adobe Acrobat, Internet html, or other), or make suggestions to you on format.
Finally, good ghostwriters can write quickly. Ghostwriters cannot perform miracles, but it’s not unheard of to get an ebook done in 30 days when you need it fast. Depending on your need and schedule, you can usually find some who will work even more quickly. It’s nice to allow six weeks, but not necessary.
Where ghostwriters lurk
You can find ghostwriters the hard way or the easy way. The hard way is to locate writing or authoring organizations in cities around the globe, and interview writers until you find one that you believe is qualified to write your book.
The easy way to find a ghostwriter is to go to an Internet site where ghostwriters are hanging out, ready to respond to classified ads. You place an ad for your project, and you wait for bids to come in. Two large sites with gobs of ghostwriter of traffic are Elance and Guru.
A third way is to contact ghostwriting companies directly.
Of the avenues available, I recommend going through one of the large sites that have high ghostwriter traffic. Sometimes these types of sites are called freelancer databases, ghostwriter banks, freelancer job banks, or similar.
Get ghostwriters competing for your ebook
The two large online freelancer databases where ghostwriters lurk that I mentioned above, Elance and Guru, operate in essentially the same way. Basically, you post an ad and wait for responses. You choose a writer from the list of responders, agree on a schedule and fee, and then move on and do something else until your ebook arrives to you in your email inbox.
Both sites maintain catalogs of people who provide freelance services. The Elance catalog has over 50,000 people listed. Some of the people in the catalog, or bank, provide software programming or other service. Not everyone in the bank is a ghostwriter. So when you get to the site, you’ll need to navigate to the area that applies to ebooks and ghostwriting. Although this may take you a few minutes at first, the site is easily navigable once you get your bearings. Let’s walk through Elance.
Go to www.elance.com. From the home page, scroll down to the menu along the bottom of the page, and click on “Marketplace.” From the marketplace page, look to the left hand side of the screen, and from that menu, click on “Writing & Translation.”
In Elance’s writing marketplace, browse through others’ ads to see how they are finding ghostwriters, and roughly what the projects are paying. With a quick browse you can see how ads are written and which ghostwriters have responded, and additional details about the advertisers and the ghostwriter responder.
Placing ads is free as of this writing. The ghostwriters are the ones who pay to review the ads. Isn’t that nice? You will need to “subscribe” however, and get some of your information into the database in order to advertise. This is only fair so that responders know what they are responding to and so that there is trust that payment will be made when the job is completed.
I recommend that you subscribe right away, so that the processing can take place while you’re getting your other pre-work done (selecting a topic for your ebook and creating your ad for posting).
Once you place an ad, writers will begin to post online bids for your project. They may offer to write your ebook for less money than the maximum pay you stated in your ad, or they may offer to write the ebook more quickly than you’ve stated you require. Basically, they start a friendly competition (usually friendly) to get your business. Lots of them will be appealing. That’s because it’s a buyers market – good news for you.
Each responder will provide some background information along with their offer. There will be navigable links you can click on to review their history with Elance, their portfolio, and ratings given by some of their clients. Unsubscribed web surfers will not have access to all the detail that you do on the ghostwriters. Likewise, casual surfers will not have access to all of your ad’s details either. From the bids you get, you read up on the materials available and make a selection.
Once you’ve awarded the project to a writer, you’ll work up an agreement between you and the writer, and arrange payment through Elance. There are agreement templates you can use on the site, and there are recommended methods of paying also. You may want to browse through some of this information early on regarding scheduling and payment, even before you place your ad, to make sure you understand the “fine print.” There’s nothing terrible there that I know of, but read it all anyway because it’s the smart thing to do.
Payment can be made before the writing starts, after the writing is completed, or half before and half after the writing is completed. When you do pay, a percentage will be taken by Elance. This fee is currently less than 10 percent and is considered a finder’s fee. Basically, you won’t pay anything to your ghostwriter or to the databank service until you have actually selected a writer.
Guru operates similarly. You can visit www.guru.com to find the company’s agreements, paying procedures, and finder’s fee amounts. The home page of Guru lists categories of freelancers available. You will want to head directly to the “Writing/Editing/Translation” category list on Guru. Currently, there’s a fee structure at Guru that varies depending on what type of subscription freelancers or service companies have purchased. Some freelancers can list basic skills and respond to some ads for free. Paid members and companies will have higher profiles and be able to bid more frequently. To post a “ghostwriter wanted” ad is free. You will still have the power to peruse the entire catalog and invite certain service providers to bid on your project. The finder’s fees range from 5 to 10 percent, and the finder’s fees are pulled from the buyer and/or the seller at Guru.
Guru is a larger site that has won some awards and has a catalog of hundreds of thousands of service providers in their database. Like with Elance, only a fraction of the service providers are ghostwriters looking for ebook work though. But a fraction of almost 500,000 is a good number.
The information available about each service provider, i.e. ghostwriter, can be compared to information available on vendors on the popular eBay auction site. Histories and rankings on the large sites are readily available for each writer or company you are thinking of hiring. You can see if other clients have been satisfied with a writer’s work, and see how many ebooks a ghostwriter has written through the use of the freelancer bank. These indicators can be very helpful when it comes time to make a selection, and I’ll talk more about how to choose a writer in the next chapter.
There is another freelance database on the web where ghostwriters lurk sometimes called AllFreelance. There, ebook creators have been known to find ghostwriters using a procedure similar to the ones at Elance or Guru. Ads are placed, and freelance writers respond with bids. I don’t like the site myself because of the irritating popups. But, it’s got some traffic. If you’d like to check it out, swing by www.allfreelance.com. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about the popups. I’m a busy man, focused on what I want to get done, and therefore I personally don’t generally return to popup sites (as you may be able to tell by now!).
If you don’t want the project details public
You may not wish to reveal your one-of-a-kind ebook subject or title to just anybody in what amounts to a classified ad. But you still want to attract competing ghostwriters to your interesting project. Here’s what you can do. Both of the freelance database sites provide a mechanism for you to post some information in your ad that only the paid subscribers can see. This is a good way to go, and you’ll see during your initial browse of others’ ads that many advertisers do this. You’ll see a symbol next to the project listing that indicates some of the detail is locked from public view. Already, portions of the ads are hidden from public view, and extra “locking” reduces the visible portions even further.
Also, you can be vague in your ad. There’s no need to list your title, ideas of chapters, or even the precise nature of the subject matter. In your ad, you can call your project a “business ebook,” if you like.
When you hire a ghostwriter, you will of course need to deliver the particulars so that they can do a great job for you. Even then, it’s common to have the writer sign a confidentiality agreement. So, basically, don’t worry too much about someone else seeing your idea before your ebook is done. The threat of an ebook idea or title being stolen is not really that high, although as mentioned earlier, ideas are not copyrighted, so someone could rightfully go running off with your idea. The truth is any reader of your book or related sales web site could swipe your ideas just as easily. Regardless of the risks, try not to deliberate or worry excessively. I’m sure you are busy too, and you have better things to do.
You may wonder why the ads are made visible to the public at all. The sites make all ads available in partial form so that unsubscribed visitors may, by viewing samples, be enticed to become members. Everyone starts as a browser and needs something to browse before making larger decisions.
As you browse, you will surely see that invariably, advertisers get some responses that are outrageous. Offers to write a 100 page book in a day for a few hundred bucks. At this stage, just ignore those, and know that regardless of a few sour grapes, overall the system tends to work.
You can move things along a little in terms of trying to get the type of responders you want. Obviously, offering a legitimate amount of time and pay is one way to attract a good ghostwriter. On Elance, you can peruse the database and select certain writers to invite them to bid on your project. On Guru, you can screen out certain types of people from the list to bid on your project.
Once you get to the list on Elance, follow the site’s instructions to invite certain people to bid on your project. You can either browse through the list line by line, and select candidates you like to invite, or you can do a site search for certain types of qualifications. There’s usually a limit on how many freelancers you can “invite” to bid. Ten or fifteen writers should be plenty though. The sites limit invitees to keep advertisers from mass-inviting the whole list. That would serve no purpose since ads are viewable by all members, but some advertisers would surely mass-invite to be more visible than competing projects. Limiting invitees takes care of that potential problem.
On Guru, you can limit your ad allowing only writers with certain qualifications to bid. Because Guru’s database is so large, most advertisers screen out writers who do not have paid memberships. This, in theory, eliminates fly-by-night writers who are not willing to pay or to maintain a monthly subscription to the service.
On Elance and Guru, most ebooks are outsourced for a flat fee. When I say flat fee, I’m talking about the money you offer to pay the ghostwriter (as opposed to the various percentages and fees taken by the database site). If you choose to, you may, in addition to the flat fee, offer a ghostwriter a per-sale percentage. This is a good-hearted thing to do, since the writer created the work. Even ghostwriters have to live. You are never under any obligation, and most ebook owners don’t offer percentages to their ghostwriters.
Alternative to writer banks
Frankly, placing your project ad into a large database like one on Elance or Guru and getting competing bids is the most efficient way to find a ghostwriter. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least let you know that there are some ghostwriters that you can hire directly. I mentioned you could look around in writing organizations, but also, you can go directly to any of the web sites listed in the last section of this book. You will need to do your homework, check references, etc. on any of these ghostwriters, just as you would with ghostwriters on the database sites.
To find more individual ghostwriting web sites, search the Internet for “ghostwriting service,” or “ebook ghostwriters.”
If you hire directly, you will save yourself the finder’s fee charged by the database web sites. However, you will not have access to the competitive marketplace and the ranking information from the large sites. On Elance and Guru, after projects are completed, many clients provide some very valuable and useful feedback on their experiences with the ghostwriters they hired. This feedback is available to future clients and people who are placing ads.
Individuals and companies who provide ghostwriting services but are not bidding for your job through Elance or Guru may charge flat fees, percentages, or per-page rates. Some require partial credit in the ebook. Some of them advertise rates that are rather high compared to the ghostwriter banks, but you may also find some that are comparable, such as www.truetalentmedia.com.
Talk to individual-site potential ghostwriters online to find out their fees, experience, and such. If one can’t help you, he or she may be able to direct you to someone else in their line of work that can.
However you go about finding one of the many ghostwriters that are lurking day and night, for efficiency’s sake, do use the Internet. Post your project on Guru or Elance or both, or initiate contact with an online ghostwriting service. Once you start getting bids from the banks and/or pricing and service information from the individual ghostwriting services, you’ll have decisions to make, and I’ll tell you how to choose a writer in the next chapter.
Some tips on posting your ghostwriter wanted ad
Back to the database sites, posting an ad is simple once you have your topic or title selected. You want to include some particulars, but not all of them at this stage. (Once you negotiate terms with a writer, then you will of course put every item that you require into a contract.)
Your ad should include the following items:
1. Short description of the project. A few lines at most.
2. Maximum amount you are willing to pay. Writers can bid lower than this, but they cannot bid above your maximum offering for your project.
3. Date you will close bidding on your project. Close bidding in a few days or a few weeks. Don’t leave your ad lingering on the site too much longer than that, because it loses momentum. Besides, if you are not getting responses you like, you can always place another.
4. Deadline the ghostwriter will have to meet. Give the writer a month or six weeks if you can. But, if you really need an ebook in seven days or less, then specify that.
If, for example, you’d like to have an ebook written on the subject of how to home school your gifted child, here is some text you might include in your ad.
1. An 80-page or longer ebook covering successful homeschooling techniques to use specifically with gifted children. Research to be done by the writer. Two revisions if necessary.
2. Maximum acceptable bid: $1200.
3. Close bidding date: 12/05/05.
4. Will need completed book within 21 days of job start.
You can specify any other parts of the book you like, but keep your list of requirements relatively short. For example, you may specify that you need a glossary chapter or that you will need drawings and/or photographs included. For an ebook on how to tie your own flies, you may ask that the ghostwriter provide drawings, or you may provide the drawings yourself. The former is easier for you, but will probably drive the cost and delivery time up somewhat.
When you come to an agreement with a writer, you will naturally provide all the other details he or she will need to complete the book. He may need to know what font you would like or what personal details you want included.
It is a good bargain to pay around $1,000 to get an 80-page ebook ghostwritten without drawings, photographs, or cover art included. It is possible to get good ghostwriters sometimes for a tad less. If you offer to pay a maximum of $150 for an 80-page book, you will not likely get a ghostwriter who knows what he is doing. You can advertise a maximum of $1,000 for a 60-page ebook, and you will get some legitimate offers in the range of $500 to $1,000. Although you don’t want to pay a huge amount more than necessary, I do recommend that you offer and pay an adequate amount to get a good ghostwriter. It’s worth it.
My rule is for a simple ebook, I will pay up to $1500. I add more if drawings or photographs are required or if length is greater than 80 pages. My math indicates that I will need to sell roughly 100 ebooks to recoup that money. No problem, since I’m working the marketing and sales end instead of writing the book. And my sales are much higher, generally.
Tell viewers what kind of qualifications you are looking for. Either make the selection on the screen by clicking on the categories provided by the service, or indicate clearly in the text of the ad what type of person you’re looking for.
You will also want to indicate that you may require that the ghostwriter make revisions after you review the ebook. Note this in your ad as well. It is okay to indicate that you would like two sets of possible revisions to be included in the bid. When you negotiate the final terms with the writer, you can specify what types of revisions are included and the timeframes for them to be done.
One thing you do not want to do is to change your mind on what you want after you have already posted your ad. Although posting is free on the ad sites, if you make changes or otherwise renegotiate on terms already established, word will get out. Besides it’s just not a good idea. It wastes your time.
A great way to make sure you’ve included all necessary details, but have not gone overboard with too much detail in the initial stages, is by browsing other ghostwriter-wanted ads Elance or Guru. In ten minutes, you’ll be able to jot down your ad by using one of them as a template.
Posting projects (or, running your ad to find a ghostwriter) requires a little bit of reading time on your end. But once you learn how to post ads the first time, you can repeat the process over and over again with little effort whatsoever.
Do it your way with ghostwriters
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can have it your way with any other route. To get exactly what you want without writing it yourself, hire a competent ghostwriter. There is another way to sell or give away an ebook without having to write it. I’ll tell you about it and then tell you why I don’t much care for it.
Ebooks that have already been written are available for purchase. The process is often called “ebook reselling.” You can actually buy, and pretty cheaply I might add – sometimes for less than a hundred bucks, a pre-written ebook. With the price, you obtain the license to resell. Then you can sell that ebook as many times as you like for any price you like.
I don’t recommend ebook resales for several reasons. First, you don’t get to create your own personal and unique book. Others will also have resale rights. The very customers you are trying to sell to may be also receiving marketing materials from someone else for the exact same book!
Second, many of these resale ebooks contain marketing information or links to other services which serve the purposes of the original writer and not you or your targeted readership. This is one of the ways that an originator gets by with selling the ebooks so cheaply for resale. He heads straight to the bank whenever a reader that you sold the book to buys one of his offered services or other ebooks.
Third, ebook resale services are heavy-handed with advertising. You can’t even pay a visit to one of their web sites without getting bombarded with popups. Nobody likes over-the-top selling or advertising. In fact, no one likes sneaky, subtle advertising either. If your readers go back to the originating web site, which will most definitely be listed in the ebook, then they’ll be bombarded too. With your own ghostwritten ebook, if you utilize advertising of your own services boldly or subtly, at least the advertising you’re exposing to the readers is for products or services that you will receive compensation for. And then maybe you could resell your book…just something to think about.
Ghostwriting gives you a one-of-a-kind product. In the end, although someone else wrote it, you dreamed it up, and you own it outright. Ghostwritten ebooks, compared to resales, offer maximum flexibility for you to market, revise, advertise, and more. You can actually legally pursue anyone that tries to copy the written work or resell your ebook without your permission. You’re protected by the copyright law. Pay the money to get a unique book created that you have control over. Pay extra to get an excellent ghostwriter if you need to (what I mean is don’t always take the lowest bid necessarily). Then you will be proud to sell your well-written, distinctively-your-own, ebook.
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Hi, my name is Fuzi. I have been in the internet marketing arena since late 1990s. I am sharing some internet marketing ideas with my articles here.
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