How To Hire Ghost Writers
Posted On: 2015-03-18
by: Bill Platt
Hands down, the book publishers I know who are making the most money are those who outsource book creation to ghost writers.
This makes sense, because there are two ways you can make money -- using your time or your money.
Most of us start out as writers, using our time and talent to make money publishing books. Then later, we realize that our potential is directly limited by the number of hours we can work. In fact, if something comes up and we have to take time away from work, our income falls.
That happened to me in 2009. My dad got sick with cancer, and he needed someone to take him to doctor's appointments all over the state. His wife felt she needed to not miss work, and neither of my siblings could afford the time off either.
I was self-employed with the freedom to choose when I did my work. So I took the time off to help my dad go to his doctor's appointments.
But inevitably, my income fell as I could not do my work as quickly as my customers expected me to do.
In 2009, I was still a slave to time.
In years previous, I had expanded my earnings by hiring others to work for me. And since, I have returned to the model that allows me to exchange more of my money and less of my time to build wealth.
These days, I have seven ghost writers working for me,
and so long as I continue to earn more than I am spending, I will add more ghost writers to my payroll in the coming months.
Which brings me to the question a lot of people have been asking me as of late...
"HOW do you hire ghost writers?"
First off, I will tell you that I hire all of my ghost writers through Odesk.com.
When you are hiring writers, you want to find a writer who is long on talent and short on confidence.
This might seem like odd advice, but let me explain myself.
When I started doing ghost writing as a service, I wrote for 4 cents a word. Later, when my confidence matched my talent, I was charging 45 cents per word.
That last part is important, "when my confidence matched my talent," I increased my rates.
If you can find a writer who has awesome talent, but low self-esteem or confidence in the value they provide to you, then you can hire some of the best writers on the planet for one to two cents per word, and sometimes even less.
As the writer's confidence grows, so will their rates.
I have been hiring writers for more than a decade. I have learned:
* People who charge higher rates don't always produce better-quality content;
* People who charge higher rates aren't as hungry for money, so they take more time off work;
* People who charge higher rates tend to march to their own schedule and not your schedule.
In fact, I recently terminated my two most expensive ghost writers. I was paying them twice as much as my other writers, and they were taking twice as many hours to produce the same number of words. And still the quality of content was no better than my writers who cost 75% less.
Along the same line of reasoning, you can often hire writers who charge as much as 20 cents per word for just ten dollars an hour. When put into the context of an hourly rate, most writers will compare what you are offering to what they are earning
or have earned from a job. At the end of the job, you can divide the number of dollars you paid them by the number of words they produced, and again, you will find that your writers are often working for one or two cents per word.
Only one of my writers gets paid on a fixed-rate. Everyone else is paid by the hour.
When you post your job listing, it is important to tell people to do one special thing inside your listing,
such as, "When you apply, send a sample."
This is an extremely important point, because people who don't follow instructions in your job posting will not follow your other directions later. If you hire someone who has a problem with following instructions, then that person will eventually cost you a lot of money for which you will not get a good return on your investment.
It is a lot cheaper and much more productive to eliminate the wrong people, before you ever hire them.
Don't be so desperate that you are willing to lower your standards to hire someone, who might not be the perfect fit.
Don't be afraid to refuse someone a job.
They will find someone else who is a sucker for their sob stories.
When someone proves to be a bad hire, fix that problem fast,
and don't be intimidated by their insistence that you owe them something more. You only owe them what you agreed to pay and nothing more.
I had one guy who did not work out for me. After only two weeks, I let him go. When I closed the job, I gave him an honest review. I was still being generous when I gave him a 4.6 out of 5.0 stars. But the guy was angry at me and insisted that I should change his rating to 5 of 5. I did change his review, after he threw a fit about the 4.6. I changed his rating to 4.0 of 5.0 stars, and I left a new review stating that he wasn't happy with anything less than a 5-star review, even though he never deserved a perfect score.
Since, he has contacted me twice to tell me that I have ruined his future earning potential on Odesk. Not my problem. I am not going to lie for him and tell others he was awesome, when he was far less than awesome.
It is important also to describe precisely what you need done.
Make sure people understand what you expect from them.
Don't be afraid to share very specific details. Most of my job listings are nearly 800 words by themselves.
Don't be afraid to ask for specific experience from the people who want to apply for your position.
All of my listings state in no uncertain terms, "Preference is given to writers, who have previously published a book."
As a result, most of my ghost writers are published authors.
When you make the hire, be sure to give people enough information to deliver exactly what you want from them.
When hiring writers to write books, I give my writers a very detailed plot.
When hiring writers to write plots, I give them a specific structure to follow, I tell them the genre, and I give them a starting point for the kind of plot I want them to write for me.
Here is another tip. When I hire writers, I want to hire a writer with experience in the kind of writing I want done for me.
For example, if I want to hire someone to write romance, I want to hire someone who enjoys writing romance.
If you have a writer who prefers to write science-fiction, then you are bound to lose them before the job is done if you are asking them to write something like Christian-romance.
This is perhaps your greatest challenge.
We can all find writers all day long. The challenge is hiring a writer who will finish what he or she starts. About 10% of writers I hire quit working for me, before the job is finished. The good news is that when I started out, 90% of writers quit before the job was done.
This is why it is so important to match the writer's background with the type of writing you want the writer to do for you. The better you match the writer to the job, the less likely you will lose that writer before the job is completed.
I have only had two writers do this to me in the last six months. The first got a better job paying 5-times what I was paying. The second was a published author, but was still in college, so not quite as mature as my other writers.
You always want to create milestones for your writers.
Instead of trusting that your writer will be able to get to the end of the job, you should speak to your writer a couple times a week, and you should make the writer turn in his/her work once a week or after each chapter.
Don't ever trust that a writer who had done well before is on the right track. Every time they turn in their work, check it immediately
to make sure the story is going where you want it to go, at the level you believe it should be written.
I knew better, but I made this mistake once in the last 4 months. A particular writer had done a good job out of the gate. Then I let her work 3 weeks without supervision because I was busy with other things.
When I finally got to the point of checking on her, I had to let her go, realizing that she had let her quality diminish considerably, and she stopped editing her own work. I flushed $1400 by not keeping a close eye on her work, because in the end, I realized that I could not use what she had done unless I devoted a lot of my own time to rewriting what she had written for me.
When you are happy with your writer's work, don't be afraid to give them a bonus.
It isn't necessary to give them a bonus at every milestone, but give them a bonus often enough to keep them excited about working with you. You don't have to give large bonuses. Often times, a simple $20 will work wonders for you.
Invite your writers to contact you on Skype for additional questions.
This is important, because if the writer is confused about something, you want to get them on the right track fast.
Hopefully after reading this article, you will be in a much better position to hire the right people to do ghost writing for you and to get the best productivity from your writers.
If you have any specific questions that I did not answer in this article, feel free to hit Reply on this email and send me your questions directly. I will answer your emails at my earliest convenience.
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