Fiction Ghostwriting Services
Erick Mertz Writing
Looking for any ghostwriter can be a difficult process. Among the most important things you need to know are the specific services you’re potentially hiring for, expectations for an effective collaboration and, in the case of fiction ghostwriting, the desired outcomes.
Seeing a book on the shelf with your name on it is thrilling. I’ve published numerous titles over the years and every single time, the first time I see that book is indescribably exhilarating. Many aspiring writers I have met over the years wonder out loud how it’s possible. How can I be up there with them?
I’m not going to say anything is easy, especially when we’re talking about fiction. Realities in how the market has opened up and a clear, concise process for how to reach readers, however, has made becoming a fiction writer an attainable, realistic goal.
Not just a fiction writer – a successful one. One that sells books. Working with the right fiction ghostwriter can help make that happen.
Here are a few common questions I commonly encounter when I talk to prospective clients about fiction ghostwriting.
Fiction Ghostwriting – What Are The Steps?
Working with a fiction ghostwriter is a process. Over my many years in the ghostwriting business, I have refined the steps in the client/ghostwriter relationship as follows:
The first step is agreeing on a price for the work. Fiction ghostwriting is a for-hire service, which means the client pays the writer for the project. The process of agreeing on a price usually starts with a negotiation between the fiction ghostwriter’s rate, whatever they commonly charge (a bit more on that later) and the client’s expected budget.
Once the ghostwriter and client agree on price, it comes down to signing a contract. That contract contains numerous terms of service, most importantly description of the service and end product, total dollars for the work and the payment schedule.
A critical point to understand – nothing happens until the contract is signed.
With a contract signed and in place, the project begins. In almost every instance, the initial step in writing the project is a meticulous back and forth in which the client downloads their ideal story to the fiction ghostwriter. I don’t know any other way of looking at it.
In my practice, I focus on listening to what the client wants. Who are the characters they envision? What is the story? Specifically, what is the genre?
Once that story has been downloaded (and I get a good idea of what it looks like) crafting the outline comes next. The outline, in most instances, involves a list of chapters and descriptions of the events in each one that illustrate how the story moves forward. Most often this is a time of a lot of back and forth between the fiction ghostwriter and client, going over the outline again and again until it works.
Once the outline has been agreed upon, meaning that the client approves it as what they want their story to sound like, the fiction ghostwriting begins. In most cases, writing the first draft of a book takes anywhere from three to six months. Timelines depend largely on the length of the manuscript. Novels take longer while shorter projects, like novellas and short stories, require a much shorter writing time.
When the first draft is done, the client takes the story back and gives it a look. When they’ve read it over and over and decided what they like and don’t like, they pass the book back for rewrites. Maybe a chapter didn’t work. Maybe a character didn’t come through quite the right way.
Whatever the client decides, the last stage of fiction ghostwriting is implementing those changes.
If you’re deciding between a few ghostwriters for hire and not sure what their process is, ask them. Conducting a solid, thorough interview is a key aspect of getting the right person. If the person you’re looking to work with doesn’t have a process, or seems to skip important steps along the way, it may be in your best interest to look at someone else.
Are Fiction Ghostwriters A Realistic Path To Publishing Success?
The answer to this question is an emphatic yes. Working with the right professional fiction ghostwriter can help carve out a realistic path to success in the publishing world. In my long ghostwriting career, I have worked with a number of aspiring fiction writers in many different ways.
One of those ways is basic writing. Fiction ghostwriting can be as simple as working with a fresh, client-supplied idea and writing a book, whether that be novel, novella or short story.
This kind of arrangement most conveniently fits the notion of what ghostwriting is for most clients. But there are other ways in which hiring a fiction ghostwriter can help you on the path to publishing success.
Fiction ghostwriters are adept at storytelling. They know how genre works as well as the many changing ins and outs of the publishing market. If you’re stuck plotting your novel, or want to craft a longer series, but aren’t sure how to do that, a fiction ghostwriter could be a great help to you.
There is also the re-writing service. I encounter this a lot. When a client runs into a problem with the first draft of their novel, struggling to implement notes from their editor or writer’s group comments, a fiction ghostwriter can help craft the path forward for that story.
Whatever you need, the key is to ask about it. If you have a service in mind that doesn’t quite fit in with traditional book writing, make that a part of the interview.
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What Kind Of Books Can Fiction Ghostwriters Create?
The number of types of books a fiction ghostwriter can create is pretty broad. I would dare to call it almost limitless. If you want an illustration of what kind of range looks like, go click on Amazon and explore the Kindle Store, and take a moment to check out what authors are creating.
There is a lot to be said about what self-publishing has done to fiction (a deeper exploration of that is for another blog). Among the most positive effects I’ve seen is the democratization of genres and what is considered a viable story. Twenty years ago, if you went into a bookstore and wandered into the fiction section, you’d find many of the broader categories available for sale.
Mystery. Fantasy. Science-fiction. Romance.
Self-publishing has fostered a revolution in what is possible within those categories. Every one of those genres can split into small, niche-based sub-categories, as wild as the author’s imagination.
Was our idea of fiction too limited before? Maybe so. Whatever limitations those fiction shelves suffered through before, now they’re as wide open as possible.
Fiction ghostwriters should know the market. Now, it’s not realistically possible to be intimately dialed in on, or an expert in, every subgenre of fantasy (of which there are many), but a knowledge of the general market is pretty critical. The best ghostwriters for hire will both support your vision at the same time as be able to help you fit that work into whatever market you’re interested in.
What Kind Of Experience Am I Looking For In A Fiction Ghostwriter?
There is a great deal of subjectivity when it comes to “desirable experience” when it comes to hiring a fiction ghostwriter. Let’s first look at what kind of experience we are talking about.
I break down fiction ghostwriting experience into two broad categories.
First, there is the writer’s publishing experience, what are their credits and accolades, and second is their ghostwriting experience. This would be a look at how many clients they’ve worked with, how they’ve implemented outside ideas, worked through problems, and met deadlines.
I’ve met a lot of writers with pretty significant publishing experience. They’ve seen a long list of short stories and novels published, even made a name for themselves. What does this tell me? It tells me they’re a skilled writer with a great deal of writing ability. I’ve also known a number of ghostwriters who have written books for clients but never independently published a story of their own.
What should you do with this disparity?
The reality is, when you’re looking for ghostwriters for hire, you need a blend of both experiences. Too much of one or the other simply isn’t going to work. The best fiction ghostwriting comes from writers whose work has been recognized and/or published, as well as someone who has worked for clients.
If you’re seeking ghostwriters for hire and are going through the interview process, be sure to ask a lot of questions. Ask to see a sample, or look at a published book, as well as talking to a referral. In tandem, these two factors will provide what you need to find the best fiction ghostwriter.
How Much Do Fiction Ghostwriters Get Paid?
Just like in most ghostwriting situations, what fiction ghostwriters are paid varies. The range of payment is fairly wide and, in some cases, feels like it comes out of nowhere.
Some ghostwriters are paid what I call a bargain rate. What is a bargain rate? I would call it anywhere from $.02-.10 per word. If you break that rate out for a full book it’s $1000-5000. Not much.
Why do bargain ghostwriters charge so little? Fiction ghostwriters vary in experience. Some have written (and maybe published) many books for themselves but maybe not for clients. Others have written for clients but are lacking in books on the shelf they can point to.
On the other hand, someone experienced in fiction ghostwriting might charge upwards of $.75 to $1.00 a word. This higher rate connects to their award wins, published books and high-profile clients. The more of those accolades a writer has, the more they can charge.
Odds are, a writer with those credentials is going to be worth the extra money.
Ghostwriters for hire are able to charge whatever they want for their services. It’s up to you, the discerning client, to decide if they’re worth it.
If you’ve shopped around, you know there is no regulation in this market. If you want to know whether a fiction ghostwriter is worth what they charge, ask questions. Take an active role in the interview, ask about their experience either in self or traditional publishing, and working for clients.
These two areas are not the same. Any inspired writer can sit down at the computer and bring their story to life, but it takes a special fiction ghostwriter to help actualize client vision.
Are Fiction Ghostwriters Ethical?
It’s understandable that some people might question how ethical ghostwriters for hire are. A person taking credit for work they didn’t do is, in most fields, highly frowned upon.
For good reason. But that’s now what a fiction ghostwriter is doing.
Let me answer this question by way of illustrating an example. If you had a kitchen that was badly in need of updating and remodeling, you would call on a contractor right? You’d screen a list of possible candidates, meet them, compare prices and then choose the one you wanted to work with. That contractor would come out and make the desired upgrades, charge you for it and move on to the next job. Years later, when you sold the house, you, the owner, would reap the benefits.
Fiction ghostwriting is a lot like that home remodel. A professional writers comes in and does the work, taking the blank slate of a new unwritten story, implementing ideas and executing on a plan we make together. When the time comes to sell the book you, the client, reaps the reward.
In a well structured arrangement, centered on a good idea, clients not only make the money back they invested in the ghostwriter, they reap a profit.
This process is ethical because, ultimately, the idea belongs to the client. The genesis of the project is their own, original, intellectual property. Fiction ghostwriters don’t write and sell their own original books or stories to their clients. They contract to write and create something new based on their vision.
If you still have ethical questions, maybe numbers will help you understand just how prevalent this is. Some estimate that anywhere from a quarter to a half of all books are ghostwritten.
Contact me for a service quote
If you are serious about hiring a professional ghostwriter for your book, screenplay, or non-fiction story, or you need help with editing or self-publishing your manuscript, please contact me.
Every new contact receives a free 30-minute 1:1 consultation about their ghostwriting project or manuscript consultation.
Additionally, I offer all independent and self-publishing authors a 10% discount on my already affordable services.