What Is a Ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters take on the task of getting stories or lessons down on paper when someone has an idea, but not the time or skill to write it.

Whether it’s a self-help book or a celebrity memoir, there’s a good chance that the person smiling from the front cover of that popular book did not write the words inside.

Many people who have stories to tell do not have the writing skill or the time needed to write a book. So, they turn to freelancers who can write their books for them. Many freelance writers make some or all of their income writing popular books that will never appear under their own name.

Do you have writing chops but don’t really care about building up bylines? Ghostwriting could be for you.

Who Uses Ghostwriters?

What is a ghost writer?

The short answer: all kinds of people. James Patterson’s incredible output is only possible because he hands the creative process off to ghostwriters once he’s created an outline and framework for a story. Tiffany Haddish had her memoirs written by Tucker Max. 

It’s a pretty good bet that any book that lists a CEO, actor, musician or anyone else whose primary job isn’t writing was written with the help of a ghost writer.

How Much Do You Get Paid To Ghostwrite?

The rates you can earn as a ghostwriter vary wildly depending on your skill, your experience, the complexity of the work you do, and your skill at marketing yourself.

Beginning ghostwriters getting their feet wet could apply to write romance at HotGhostWriter for a penny and a half a word. Highly skilled writers who market themselves to high end clients may earn anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000 a project.

One now-defunct ghostwriting service paid ghostwriters $55 a page for writing and $45 an hour for interviews. Scribe offers writers $50 an hour for any time spent on the project, whether interviewing, researching, or writing.

If you and your client put together a bestseller, you can command a lot more on future ghostwriting projects. High-end ghostwriters can also ask for co-author or “as told to” credits.

How Do You Become a Ghost Writer?

If you are already an experienced writer, you can start by applying at some of the outfits listed in the next section. If you are just getting started, you should spend some time building up some skills.

A college degree is not required. However, if you have a journalism degree, the interviewing and research skills you acquired getting it will translate well.

A ghost writer needs to be able to work in a range of writing styles so that you can match your client’s voice. Good ghostwriters are able to get outside their comfort zone and learn enough about new topics to write about them knowledgably. 

Book writing can be intimidating for people who are more used to short form writing. However, writing nonfiction books is not that different from writing a series of articles on a topic.

It can be hard work, but this sort of freelance writing can provide a more stable full-time income than other forms of professional writing.

What Are Some Popular Ghost Writing Services?

There are a number of ghost writing services out there, each with different set-ups. Nearly all ghostwriting is done on a freelancing basis. Which will work best for you will depend on where you are in your career and how much you are willing to do in addition to writing.


In Reedsy, all negotiation is handled directly between client and writer

Reedsy is a marketplace where ghostwriters, editors, and other book publishing professionals market themselves. Potential clients visit the site to hire ghostwriters. All negotiation is handled directly between client and writer. 

Scribe Media

Scribe is a place for more advanced and experienced writers to work

Scribe is owned by Tucker Max, who rose to fame with his autobiographical book I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. The company has worked with a number of high-profile clients.

This is a place for more advanced and experienced writers to work. You won’t get past the initial application without providing an Amazon link to a book you ghostwrote.

Only a few of those who make it to the interview stage is chosen. According to Max, their selection process is more competitive than Harvard’s. Writers who work with Scribe pare paid an hourly rate.

Gotham Ghostwriters

Gotham Ghostwriters
Gotham negotiates the fees, then the writer and client work together to write the book

Gotham Ghostwriters works a bit differently than either of the above. They act as an agent to secure ghostwriting work for their writers. Once you’ve been accepted into their writer pool, you’ll receive regular project proposals from potential ghostwriting clients.

Most are listed at a flat fee. Writers can apply for the projects they feel they are a fit for. Gotham negotiates the fees, then the writer and client work together to write the book.

The Final Word On What Is A Ghost Writer

Professional writers who are comfortable working with a wide range of subject matter can find plenty of ghostwriting jobs. Professionals from other areas who want to publish but don’t have the time or skill to write can get their book project out there with the help of a skilled ghostwriter.

FAQS About What Is a Ghost Writer

How can you find a ghost writer?

Ghost writers can be found at any of the services above. You can also approach writers directly if you like their style. Like someone’s blogging skills? Reach out on social media.

What is the difference between a ghost writer and an author?

An author is a person who is credited on the cover of the book. They may have written their own book or hired someone else. A professional ghostwriter does the actual writing, typically without credit.