When Hiring a Ghostwriter is the Correct Editorial (and Business) Decision

You’re a thought leader and recognized expert in your field. Your audience enjoys your blogs, your videos, and your social media presence. Your influence is growing. And to keep the momentum going, you’ve decided to add a book to your platform and share your big idea with the world.

What’s the next step? For many, it’s finding a qualified ghostwriter.

So, let’s dispel some myths about ghostwriting here and now. It’s not cheating. It’s not unethical. It’s actually rather common. We estimate half of Amplify Publishing titles utilize the service of ghostwriters. And the other half rely on writing coaches, book doctors, copyeditors, and proofreaders. But today, let’s examine the world of ghostwriting and when it makes sense for you.


Why consider hiring a ghostwriter?
There are several areas in which a ghostwriter can add value and is worth considering:

Editorial quality. Poor quality writing undermines your credibility. Even if you can write, be honest with yourself: Is your writing of the utmost quality? Do you have the objectivity to persuade readers who aren’t already sold on your ideas, as you are? If you’re not sure how well you can represent yourself while writing, it may be in your interests to consider editorial help, be that a ghostwriter or some level of editing.

Time. Even if your writing is top-notch, you still might not have time to sit down and commit to writing a manuscript. Even a modest manuscript might be a six-month project. If you’re running a company or traveling for speaking engagements, you might be too busy. A book project is a time investment as well as a monetary investment, so be realistic with your schedule and whether you can take on another project right now.

Efficiency. Maybe you can write as well as any ghostwriter, but it takes you ten times longer to write one chapter than it would for them. A ghostwriter can step in and add speed while maintaining a quality product. For my book, How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform, I knew I could write well, but knew I couldn’t go to market without some help from Tim Vandehey, who did the heavy lifting on the writing. A professional isn’t just for those who have no time; it’s for those who value the time they have.


What is it like to work with a ghostwriter?
The ghostwriter and the named author spend a lot of time together. Brainstorming sessions, outlining, in-depth interviews wherein ghostwriter picks the author’s brain and develops a sense of their written “voice.” You don’t need to be in the same city, but an initial face-to-face meeting often produces the best writer-client relationship. The style of the meeting depends on you and the writer.

The continued level of involvement after the initial meetings is up to the named author. Maybe you want to be hands-off and just have the ghostwriter send you a completed manuscript. Perhaps you want to take an active hand in shaping the book. Many ghostwriters have a process of developing ideas and structuring the book, and the named author needs to be comfortable with that process beforehand. However the ghostwriter handles it, they will ensure they are staying true to the roadmap you laid out in the preliminary interviews. Understanding this process upfront creates the best working relationship.


What are the costs associated with hiring a ghostwriter?
There is a wide range of budgets involved in hiring a ghostwriter. The price depends on attributes like the ghostwriter’s experience, their credits, and any special circumstances like the complexity of the book or the turnaround time. We’ve worked with ghosts whose fee ranged from $10,000 on the low end to $100,000 on the high end—that’s a reality. But we are always able to find a ghostwriter within the budget of the named author.


Ghostwriting often stirs up negative associations, but it’s a crucial part of the book production process for the majority of successful authors. A great ghostwriter will provide the editorial quality and efficiency it takes to get a book done well and help you achieve your publishing goals.





As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics. 

Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

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Moving Forward with a Foreword: How to Get the Ultimate Endorsement

P.V. Kannan’s book The Age of Intent: Using Artificial Intelligence to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience had all the elements necessary to make an impact. P.V. is a respected technologist and entrepreneur with expertise in artificial intelligence (AI), the cutting-edge technology widely predicted to transform the business world. P.V.’s book had great case studies, great research, and a great design. What else could the book possibly need to take it over the top? A killer foreword. A valuable foreword can enhance an author’s credibility and a book’s marketability.

That’s when the brainstorming started. P.V. curated a wish list of names: CEOs, technologists, bestselling authors, and Thomas L. Friedman, the influential columnist from the New York Times. Friedman is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner and internationally renowned for his reporting on the Middle East, foreign affairs, globalization, and the environment. P.V. crossed paths with Friedman in 2004 while Friedman was shooting a documentary on outsourcing for the New York Times and Discovery and has been featured in his books The World Is Flat and That Used to Be Us.


The ask:

P.V. waited until his book had a final cover design and was nearly finished with researching and editing. Then he gave Friedman a copy of the manuscript and asked whether he would consider contributing a foreword if he was impressed.

Friedman has all the qualities of a great foreword writer. He has 1) name recognition, 2) a well-respected and established platform, and 3) a willingness to promote the book. Not only did Friedman deliver an engaging foreword that provided a thorough overview of the current boom in AI technology and P.V.’s expertise on the subject matter, but he also wrote a column about The Age of Intent’s subject matter, “A.I. Still Needs H.I. (Human Intelligence) for Now,” using his own and NYT’s channels to get word out about the book. The book also received attention in other outlets. For example, P.V. Kannan and his coauthor, Josh Bernoff, later wrote two articles on AI for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan Management Review titled “The Future of Customer Service Is AI-Human Collaboration” and “Four Challenges to Overcome for AI-Driven Customer Experience.”


How do I get a foreword?

There are two types of people you can solicit for forewords: people you know, and people you don’t.

People you know are the easiest people to ask for a foreword. They are already in your network, and you have the relationship to reach out and ask for their contribution. They may not even ask to see the manuscript or table of contents.

The network of people you know may not be direct contacts. You can tap into the connections of your publisher, book publicist, or ghostwriter to see who they could introduce you to. Here at Amplify, Andrew Yang, the champion of universal basic income, provided a testimonial for Our Future: The Basic Income Plan for Peace, Justice, Liberty, Democracy, and Personal Dignity by Steven Shafarman. The CEO of Zoom, Eric Yuan, is writing a foreword for Paul Epstein’s forthcoming The Power of Playing Defense. And as a result of introducing them, Amplify author Tracy Maylett provided a foreword for another Amplify title in the works, The Virtual Events Playbook by Lee Deaner, Nick Zerby, and Stanley Saint-Louis.

People you don’t know are more difficult to secure, but not impossible. Usually, these people have expertise in the subject matter in your book and would garner attention. Research their contact information early, but plan to reach out later in the process if you don’t know them. In order to make a good impression, you will need to provide the potential foreword writer with the book’s cover image and two sample chapters at minimum. If possible, it’s best to send the manuscript in full along with a list of other notable people affiliated with the book, whether they are providing a testimonial for the back cover or are quoted in the text itself. Foreword contributors often welcome a draft or editorial ideas in advance, too, but only offer a draft if they are too busy to write it themselves.

The less connection you have, the more finalized you want the book to be so you have great material to share. And be prepared to wait for their response. When you don’t have an immediate connection to the person, it’ll take follow-up and patience to get them on board, but they can be worth the wait.

Start your search for people you don’t know by creating a wish list of people you would like to write the foreword. It’s good to aim high, but keep it reasonable. Do you know how many times authors have asked to secure Oprah, Ellen, or Elon Musk?

One question people often ask is if they should pay their foreword writer. The answer? No. Never. The writer is already getting something out of it: increased visibility.


Does my book need a foreword?

Authors ask us if they should have a foreword for their book all the time, and the answer is: it depends. Not every book requires one. Authors who are thought leaders, entrepreneurs, or subject matter experts benefit most from forewords. From the right source, the foreword will bolster the book’s credibility and can help with promotion and sales.

So, who is that right person? Think back to Thomas L. Friedman and The Age of Intent. The ideal foreword writer will have:

-Name recognition or be respected in their field
-A marketing platform greater than yours
-A willingness to use their platform to benefit your book

It’s rare to have all three of these checked like Friedman. If the potential foreword writer has one or two of these qualities, it’s probably still a good idea to move forward.

A well-written foreword should provide you with:

-An introduction to you and your book
-An anecdote or an application of what your book discusses
-A testimonial as to why readers should read your book
-Credibility in your subject area by association with the writer

To get a valuable foreword like The Age of Intent did, work your network of personal and professional relationships to find the right person who adds value to your book. Partnering with an advantageous foreword writer spreads your book far and wide and connects you with your target audience better. A foreword is one piece of the puzzle in launching your book’s success.




As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics.

Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

 

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