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Ghostwriters from the Inside Out

If you aren’t comfortable preparing your own agreements, discuss how to hire an
independent contractor with your attorney.
Setting Expectations
Writing is not like building a fence or mowing a yard. These things are done
when they’re done, and more or less of objective quality.
Whether a piece of writing is “finished” and whether it is “good” are both
subjective questions, and unless you and your writing resource have exactly the
same point of view, there is a great deal of tension possible on these issues.
Part of the way to control for the tension and to avoid it, is to be very clear about
what you want from the writer. If you are absolutely insistent on a certain length,
a certain number of words, the inclusion of particular material, the exclusion of
particular material, say so.
If on the other hand you are flexible in some areas, such as word count or page
length, number of chapters, or other items, also say so. Many writers are quite
literal, and others are more interpretive, personality wise. If you say “around” 50
pages, many writers will give you 50 – but some will give you 36 and others 84.
Imitation may be flattery but it also comes in degrees. If, as is often the case, you
are interested in a book or article that “resembles” a certain established style, be
as clear as you can about how specifically you mean that. A good writer can copy
any tone/voice as well as more obvious things like organization of ideas and
chapters and a general style. If by “I want it like Hemingway” you mean male-
oriented, terse sentences, light on details, clarify this. If by “I want it like
Hemingway” you really want it to read like Hemingway, down to pacing and
vocabulary, say so.
Also allow your writer to express his or her point of view, which, if you are
working with a seasoned professional, most ghostwriters will certainly have. The
earlier you seek his opinion, the better off you and the project will be. If for
example you want a 200 page book on a marketing topic, and your current
favorite ghostwriter thinks the subject would be handled better with a 125 page
book, consider why she thinks this, then decide if you want to rethink the length,
or rethink your writing resource for the project.
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