Able Limited Editions have been asked hundreds of general questions about ghostwriting over many years. That's unsurprising really given the complexities of the law and ambiguity created through what can only be described as unscrupulous salesmanship. That creative ambiguity we have viewed and witnessed serves to confuse unwitting clients and writers alike before entering any particular draft contract, then cause unnecessary heartache at some undisclosed close of business.
To help Able Limited Editions Ghostwriting clients through our unambiguous sales process thereby
save their time, otherwise unnecessary expense and prevent avoidable heartache, Able Limited
Editions have answered a list of the most common; but extremely important questions as set below relating directly to hiring a ghostwriter.
General Ghostwriting Questions :-
Q1. I am considering using a ghostwriter to write a manuscript on my behalf. But I’m confused about copyright. If a ghostwriter writes my manuscript, does the copyright over the manuscript belong to the ghostwriter?
Answer - The issue of copyright is a very complex one, that all Ghostwriting clients should seek legal advice on before entering any contract. But, from the Able Limited Editions Ghostwriting perspective, despite any claims by unscrupulous writers and indeed many companies professing to have some pool of ghostwriters willing to write on your behalf, the fact is that under UK law you, as the client, normally own worldwide copyright over the proposed manuscript; even if it's written entirely by a ghostwriter. That is simply because you are effectively their employer. You therefore automatically own copyright over the manuscript at all stages under UK statutory law; unless you as the rightful owner expressly or impliedly waived copyright or any part of it within the contract. But beware.
Beware of any writer and or company who insists or infers the ghostwriter or the ghostwriting
company automatically owns the copyright by law. Such unscrupulous individuals usually infer, for
example, they have contracts allowing them to 'assign' copyright over to their clients. They may even insist or infer they will agree to assign over the copyright or any part of it to you in exchange for them retaining a share of royalties earned from sales of the published manuscript. But such inferences are ruthless traps to obtain copyright or any part of it from you by inferring you initially agreed as their client to assign copyright over to them on entering the ghostwriting contract. Inferences in writing within a contract are likely to be adequate evidence to establish you expressly agreed on entering the contract. So do read the ghostwriting contract carefully at least three times, so you may root out any such inferences. And do obtain reliable legal advice before you sign the contract. - Remember, statutory UK Employment Law in part, for example, governs Copyright Law in the UK in the context of intellectual property.
Q2. How does the ghostwriting process generally work?
Answer – The ghostwriting process depends entirely on the client input. You, as the client, may have a partly or completely written manuscript, for example, albeit not written to a professional standard. You may also have some; but not all the evidence required to corroborate what is or will be written therein. - On the other end of the scale, you may only have some ideas that must be fully researched and developed by the ghostwriter. But whatever your input as client is, the ghostwriting process normally takes the form of 4 to 8 separate stages, and will usually reflect agreed payment terms.
Agreed payment terms may be an hourly, daily, or weekly sum to be paid to the ghostwriter/s in
exchange for doing some agreed amount of work. The sum may be monthly instead, or broken down into Stage Payments. Normally however, any honest freelance ghostwriter, or a company offering ghostwriting services, will expect to be paid some non-refundable retainer initially on entering the ghostwriting contract to cover required research. - Then the ghostwriting process begins at some agreed date and time etc.
If the payment is to paid in Stages - Stage 1 will normally include the ghostwriter receiving your
specific written instructions, along with what amounts to your total client input, including all the legal evidence you have to corroborate what you expect to be included in the manuscript. The ghostwriter will then decide what research they must carry out, and actually carry the research out. They will also formulate some series of in-depth client interviews, to be conducted by the ghostwriter privately in person or by email and possibly start the client interview procedure. They will also usually formulate the manuscript structure, synopsis, sample chapters or pages, etc. A report will then be sent to you for your approval etc to formalise end of Stage 1, subject to any agreed payment.
Stage 2 will normally take the form of the ghostwriter continuing to conduct then complete the in-depth client interview procedure. They will also start to write the manuscript and send you a copy of what has been written to date to formalise the end of Stage 2, subject to any payment.
You will then be sent one copy of what has been written to date at the end of each subsequent Stage to formalise the end of each Stage. This is for you to proof-read the manuscript to date and suggest any changes you think may be required etc and the amount of Stages will depend entirely on the agreed length of the manuscript and your input as client.
The last Stage will normally involve you proof-reading the full manuscript at least three times. Then the ghostwriter will make any changes required by law, before sending you a copy of the completed manuscript to formalise the completion of the contract subject only to any agreed final payment.
Q3. Will the ghostwriter have any specific experience or knowledge of the subject matter?
Answer – To be quite honest with you, any good and honest professional ghostwriter can write
effectively about any subject matter without any prior knowledge or first-hand experience. This is
mainly due to the fact that they must by law research the subject matter as thoroughly and as
reasonably as possible in the circumstances. That is, despite any corroborative evidence clients may have supplied them. But obviously, if the ghostwriter has reliable prior knowledge, then a lot of time and effort may be saved when researching. - That does not necessarily mean it will be cheaper to ghostwrite however. Ghostwriting fees charged will normally reflect their specific experiences and prior knowledge.
Q4. I already have a manuscript; but I need it rewritten. Can you rewrite it?
Answer - Of course Able Limited Editions can rewrite a manuscript. Ghostwriting in this context will almost certainly be much better value than a ghostwriter writing a new manuscript created by them from scratch, assuming you carried out all essential research and produce evidence to corroborate what you have written as the client.
Q5. How long will it take to complete the ghostwriting project?
Answer - Time frames vary from project to project. But generally, any manuscript of a book length of say 70,000 words will take anything from three months to a year to ghostwrite, depending on your input as the client. Just tell Able Limited Editions what your deadline is at the initial negotiating stage, along with any indication of what's likely to be your input, then Able Limited Editions will let you know if the deadline can be met by them. This will save a lot of time and possibly heartache. But please remember that unless you have already lined-up a publisher for the proposed manuscript, most mainstream publishers normally don't publish a manuscript for about 18 months after the manuscript or a sample thereof has been accepted by them, and it's not in a ghostwriter's remit to seek a publisher on your behalf. Ghostwriters are not literary agents.
Q6. How do ghostwriters gather material and necessary data needed to write a manuscript?
Answer - Ghostwriters collect information for manuscripts in many ways, dependent only on the
resources available to them at the time. But generally, essential data is gleaned through interviewing the client and other relevant people, and reading any documents clients provide as their evidence. Clients often have a rough draft of the proposed manuscript at least also, which provides invaluable data.
Q7. Can l choose the location for ghostwriting interviews?
Answer – Location/s for interviews conducted by ghostwriters are chosen by mutual consent. But,
interviews conducted in the client's home usually works out best for ghostwriting however, especially for autobiographies, as the ghostwriter can get a sense of their client’s lifestyle and personality, given the fact that the ghostwriter will normally write from their client's personal or professional perspective. But any private location may be suitable or indeed via any secure email attachments or videos, bearing in mind the need for confidentiality at least until publication of the manuscript.
Q8. How many interviews are needed to complete a manuscript?
Answer - This depends entirely on the client input, compounded by the amount of research the
ghostwriter must carry out. But generally, the client will be interviewed between 5 to 10 times, usually through secure email attachments. - Depending on the complexity of issues to be raised by the ghostwriter, and the genre of the proposed manuscript, each interview will usually last between two and four hours.
Ghostwriting Publishing Questions :-
Q9. How can I get my ghostwritten manuscript published?
Answer - There is no short or simple answer to this question, despite mainstream rhetoric to the
contrary. It's true that ghostwriters may have good contacts in the publishing world. But all honest
ghostwriters will tell you that there is no guarantee whatsoever that any publisher will be willing to
publish any manuscript, no matter how well it is written in line with all their prevailing rules and
policies. There is an exception to that; but only in the context that if the ghostwriter actually works for any publisher. In that context only, there is a good chance that the publisher in question had already agreed in principle to publish the proposed manuscript before drawing up the terms and conditions of the ghostwriting contract. Now, as you can imagine, that is likely to be the circumstances under which the ghostwriter and or said ghostwriting company insists or infers that copyright automatically belongs to the ghostwriter or company in question. Please don't fall into that trap. They should in fact pay you to obtain your copyright from the onset in such circumstances, not you paying them to ghostwrite. Able Limited Editions never claim any copyright over any manuscript ghostwritten by them. They also never claim any credit at all for ghostwriting any particular manuscript.
Having now carefully noted the above part-written answer, the best way for you to get your
ghostwritten manuscript published is to thoroughly research the publishers or indeed literary agents who might be interested in the sort of manuscript that has or will be written – ie genre, policies, issues raised etc. Then it's a good idea to request a written copy of their in-house rules of submission, ie page layout, size, margins, fonts, spacing, indenting, grammar, spelling and format, etc. Then give a copy of that to your ghostwriter to follow to the letter. Then find out whether or not the publisher in question will accept sample chapters or sample pages (usually the first 3 chapters or 25 pages), synopsis, etc to consider. Most publishers will accept sample chapters or pages, usually giving your ghostwriter ample time to complete the manuscript for full submission. This will save you months of time, if not a year or so, given that manuscripts from established authors are often rejected, even by publishers who previously published their work. Yes. Do expect your manuscript to be rejected, possibly several times. It's then literally a bonus if not. As a very well respected literary agent (the late Giles Gordon) told Leo Hunter, the Scottish author, personally at the start of his writing career, getting any mainstream publisher to even agree to publish any manuscript is like winning the lottery, whether or not they actually go on to publish it.
The Writer’s and Artists Yearbook contains a UK directory of several publishers and agents, so you can quickly find out what sort of manuscripts those publishers and agents are likely to be interested in. There are now also many online directories independent of that UK Yearbook. Be extremely careful of the copyright trap though, no matter how well respected the publisher may be and obtain sound legal advice before you enter any publishing contract.
Q10. I’ve got an idea for a book. Can you let me know my chances of getting a book published based on that idea?
Answer - The answer to this question will vary, depending on whether or not your idea is in fact public knowledge and or you insist it forms any main theme of the manuscript. If so in either of those contexts, then the chances of the manuscript being published will likely be very slim.
Q11. I’ve heard self-publishing might be a way forward. Can you tell me more about that?
Answer - Self-publishing is much easier, cheaper and more effective than before, given all the
technology advancements. Most, if not all manuscripts these days are actually written initially in one digital format or other. So print-on-demand now means self-published authors, who in fact may have been ghostwriting clients, can literally order one single print copy of their books cost-effectively. They may even self-publish in any of a range of digital formats. The internet also gives self-published authors access to millions of potential customers. Many of those potential customers now prefer to buy download copies in various formats. So self-publishing is basically a good idea; if authors can't get a mainstream print publisher to publish their work. Many so-called successful authors did and do, although may still be considered to be vanity publishing, before mainstream publishers accept their manuscripts. So, in effect, success in self-publishing breeds mainstream publishing success. But be extremely careful. You can only ever become an associate member of the Society of Authors in the UK if you are self-published, for example. And, like it or not, as such, your self-published work will not be accepted as an entry for major writing awards such as the Booker Prize etc.
Ghostwriting Payment Questions :-
Q12. What costs are involved in having a manuscript ghostwritten?
Answer – This really is a difficult question to answer, particularly when Able Limited Editions have not seen the client input and do not know the word count of the proposed manuscript. However, on average, if the expected word count is 70,000 words (the average size of a novel for example) and the client only has basic ideas for the ghostwriter to develop into a fictional story from scratch, any typical manuscript usually costs around £8,000 to £10,000 plus VAT (if applicable) to ghostwrite, including carrying out all interviews and essential research.
If the client has carried out and supplied the ghostwriter with all the essential research and the
corroborative evidence regarding those ideas in the context of a 70,000 word fiction manuscript then the cost will be between £4,000 and £5,000.
If, on the other hand, the expected word count is 70,000 words and the client only has basic ideas for the ghostwriter to develop into a non-fiction manuscript, any typical manuscript will usually cost between £9,000 and £11,000 plus VAT if applicable. If the client has carried out all essential research and supplied all the research and corroborative evidence to the ghostwriter in this context of a 70,000 word non-fiction piece, then the manuscript will usually cost between £6,000 and £9,000.
If the word count of the non-fiction piece is less than 70,000, then cost to write the manuscript will become relatively more expensive the smaller the word count, calculated on a sliding scale ranging from £265 plus VAT (if applicable) per 1,000 words or part thereof down to around £100.
Q13. Do ghostwriters ever enter into shared royalty arrangements?
Answer – Yes. Able Limited Editions can agree to enter some shared royalty agreement; but only with known celebrity clients. But Able Limited Editions must take an up front, non-refundable payment when ghostwriting a project even for celebrities, as it’s too risky to rely on publishers accepting a project and actually publishing it. This should serve as a warning about how tricky it is to get published by any mainstream publisher. There is no guarantee whatsoever even for any celebrities.
Q14. Can I arrange a payment plan?
Answer - Yes. Able Limited Editions don’t actually expect clients to pay the ghostwriting fee in one hit. Able Limited Editions can arrange a payment plan which suits both parties. However, do be aware that a non-refundable retainer must be paid up-front amounting to between 10% and 25% of the total fee.
Q15. What payment methods do you accept?
Answer - You may pay me in cash, if you prefer. But Able Limited Editions prefer to be paid by cheque or via secure bank transfer for obvious reasons. Payment via Paypal is also acceptable; but with a levy of 5% per payment to cover Paypal fees.
Q16. How can I ensure everything is kept confidential?
Answer – Able Limited Editions enter confidentiality (non-disclosure) agreements with clients before any ghostwriting agreement is entered. This is particularly useful if clients already have what they consider to be ideas, or any partly or fully written draft manuscript and or documents or any other form of corroborative evidence that must or should be seen by us before drafting a ghostwriting contract. There will also be a strict confidentiality clause (otherwise known as a non-disclosure clause) in the drafted ghostwriting contract.
Editorial Note :-
Whether or not you decide to hire any ghostwriter, may we now suggest you read Creative Writing:Facts and Fiction ISBN 9780955214387 published by Able Limited Editions. It was written by Leo Hunter. It really is an unprecedented and quite comprehensive guide on how to write a non-fiction or fictional manuscript to a professional standard with a view of submitting manuscripts to publishers, including newspapers and magazines etc, for consideration.
If you decide to hire a ghostwriter, after reading Creative Writing: Facts and Fiction you will then be aware of what to actually expect from any honest ghostwriter. If you decide to write your intended manuscript yourself after reading and following the instructions given in the ebook, you may then submit your manuscript to publishers with confidence yourself; without hiring a ghostwriter. A publisher is much more likely to accept your manuscript if you followed those instructions. But there is never any guarantee that they will.
Good luck with your writing project.