Publishing Insiders Wrap-Up: All About Ghostwriting

by | Aug 24, 2011 | Book Marketing Basics

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We had a great show featuring Ellie Maas Davis, the owner of Pressque, a publishing consultation firm that offers editing, ghostwriting, and marketing services to authors and publishers,

Pressque has offered ghostwriting for approximately five years.

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Ghostwriting is like dress up, you get to play someone else for a bit. Pressque does a lot of nonfiction ghostwriting.

Most of our clients don’t have the time to write a book so they come to us, Ellie says.

Nearly 70% of nonfiction New York Times bestsellers are written by ghostwriters.

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Kanye West, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, JFK, Jackie Chan and James Patterson have all used ghostwriters.

Why hire a ghostwriter?

There are several reasons:

If English is not your first language. If you don’t have the time. Also, if you’re an idea person and may or may not get the project done. We ensure the book is written and that the ideas see fruition, says Ellie.

There may be more than one author, and people are busy and they want the book written from one voice. Then ghostwriting is an excellent option.

Focus issues – in those cases they might have a partial manuscript and we help them get where they are going.

We do get procrastinators, too; people who want to finally get the book done, she adds.

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You need a great writer to create a book people want to read. Learn the top 10 reasons to use a ghostwriter:

How do you proceed?

People come up with what they think is a marketable idea, but we might have done that book before. So we go back to the drawing board.


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It’s a time commitment of ideas… if you can talk (to us), you can write a book. Our process requires interviews with the author to get the information needed to write the book.

What should an author look for in a reputable ghostwriter?

Someone who listens and asks the right questions and who’s excited – in an authentic way – about the project. You want to have synergy with the ghostwriter.

Go through a publisher or agent to find a reputable ghostwriter. They have lists of people. Find a book similar to yours in a bookstore, look up the agent in the acknowledgements, call and see if he or she has a list of ghostwriters.

Services at Pressque include Book Express, an eight-week process to complete a book. There is also the Scenic Route, for 70,000 to 80,000-word books. The package used depends on what an author wants to do and the message he or she wants to convey.

My desk set up for the phone interview

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We have even flown people into Charleston (where Pressque is located) to get a book done in a weekend, Ellie says.

We try to ask meaningful questions, conduct an interview and use that material to create the book. It is truly an art.

Fees and expenses

Ghostwriting should cost less than $20,000; Book Express is $13,000 to $17,000. Fees vary for the pros working with big names:

* Jenny Sanford’s (former first lady of South Carolina) ghostwriter was paid $50,000

* Hillary Clinton’s ghostwriter made $500,000

How to become a ghostwriter

Ghostwriting works for fabulous writers who have no desire to be authors. It takes a certain ego, because if you have a book that does really well you can’t take credit.


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You have to be able to meet a deadline. If you have a blog, or if you write book reviews … write regularly so you have content you can showcase. It also gets your name out there. You need a body of work, and you need to be able to prove you can meet a deadline. And – find interesting people and start writing.

You need to adapt to the voices of the people you write for. Ellie is working with a combat photographer right now, a different world indeed, but it can be done. You take on someone else’s persona.

Everyone has a story to tell, and I’m so grateful I can help them, she says.

Download the full show at:


Upcoming Episode:

Please join us Sept. 6 – topic TBA!

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