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How to Avoid Getting Screwed When Hiring a Professional Ghostwriting Service

The number of “companies” that offer professional ghostwriting services has grown exponentially in recent years. Here are just a few services listed on the first page of Google (none of which I’ve ever heard of):

How is an author looking into these services for the first time supposed to know who’s legitimate? Who can you trust? Who can deliver a high-quality book that’s worth the price?

These questions have become increasingly difficult to answer as more and more ghostwriting service businesses have entered the market. As a result, the number of Authors wasting time and money on failed ghostwriting projects keeps growing too.

How can you avoid this happening to you?

First, you can gain a better understanding of different types of professional ghostwriting services. Understanding the pros and cons of each increases your chances of having a successful engagement.

That’s what this article is about. Below, I cover:

  1. The 3 main types of professional ghostwriting services.
  2. Who each option is best for.
  3. How Scribe’s ghostwriting services work (and what they include).

Note: We’ve worked with over 2,000 nonfiction Authors, including New York Times bestsellers like David Goggins and Tiffany Haddish. Our proven process takes you from book idea to published book in as quickly as 9 months. And we offer a money-back guarantee. If you’re serious about writing your book, schedule a free consultation with one of our Author Strategists. 

The 3 Main Types of Professional Ghostwriting Services

Today’s options for ghostwriting services break down into 3 basic categories:

  1. Freelance ghostwriters
  2. Ghostwriting agencies
  3. Publishing services companies

It’s possible to find a great ghostwriter in any of these categories, but depending on your experience with writing and publishing, the best option for you will vary.

Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about each type of service to make an informed decision about which option is best for you.

1. Freelance Ghostwriters

The first option for hiring a ghostwriter is to hire a freelancer—an independent contractor that you pay directly for their services.

Freelance ghostwriters can be found on sites like Reedsy, LinkedIn, or Google. The advantage of hiring a freelancer is that you can often negotiate a cheaper price than when you go through a service company.

The disadvantage of hiring freelancers is the time and effort it takes to find, vet, and hire one that’s the right fit. Typically, Authors spend somewhere between 25 and 50 hours on this process (sometimes more).

Who Should Hire Freelance Ghostwriters?

If you have experience vetting and negotiating with ghostwriters, going direct is a good decision. But if you’re not exactly sure how to vet ghostwriters, then you’re almost certainly going to hire the wrong person because you won’t know what to look for.

This is why I recommend professional service companies for most Authors.

2. Ghostwriting Agencies

The second option for hiring a ghostwriter is a ghostwriting agency. These are “middleman” operations that connect Authors with a ghostwriter and take a cut of the fee.

In theory, the advantage of using a ghostwriting agency is that they do the work of finding and vetting great ghostwriters for you. It saves you time and provides you with certainty that you get a quality writer.

The disadvantage is that the vast majority of agencies are just brokers who take advantage of people who don’t understand the ghostwriting market.

They say, “You want to hire a ghostwriter? Cool. How much do you want to pay?”.

You say, “I’m looking to pay $50,000.”

They connect you with a ghostwriter charging $35,000 and take the rest. You end up paying $50,000 for a lower-quality ghostwriter. If you simply paid a freelancer $50,000 directly, you’d get a higher quality ghostwriter and finished manuscript.

Agencies are also incentivized to create a connection as quickly as possible and move on. They get paid whether or not the ghostwriter is actually a good fit for you. They have no incentive to ensure the ghostwriter they connect you with is good for you.

Who Should Hire Ghostwriting Agencies?

Generally, I don’t recommend using agencies. If you do use one, make sure you choose a reputable one with a LONG history of doing good work. Otherwise, you can easily get scammed.

3. Professional Publishing Companies

The third option for hiring a ghostwriter is to choose a professional publishing company like Scribe.

In addition to ghostwriting, we offer complete self-publishing packages that include proofreading and editing services, book cover design and interior layout, printing and distribution, and more.

When you publish with Scribe, you own 100% of the rights and royalties to your book—and you don’t need a giant audience or exclusive deal with a traditional publishing house.

There are a number of advantages to working with a publishing company like Scribe versus a freelancer or agency:

  1. Publishing companies don’t just help you write your book—they also help you publish it. Pure book writing services don’t include publishing. When you hire a freelancer or agency, publishing is a completely separate process and cost to you. It ends up being more expensive than if you lump it together in a single package that includes both writing and publishing.
  2. Publishing companies are involved throughout the entire writing process. We don’t just hand you off to a ghostwriter and wish you luck. We assign you a publishing manager who guides you through the entire ghostwriting and publishing process.
  3. Publishing companies have experienced in-house teams. At Scribe, we employ Author marketers, editors, coaches, and designers. Instead of having a single set of eyes on your book, you have multiple professionals helping ensure your book is top-notch.

Who Should Hire Professional Publishing Companies?

Authors who don’t have experience vetting and hiring ghostwriters—or managing the self-publishing process on their own. They’ll save time, reduce the risk of wasting money, and provide you with a higher quality book.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Ghostwriting Agencies and Publishing Companies Like Scribe?

Because many agencies now offer publishing services in addition to ghostwriting, it’s often difficult to tell them apart from professional publishing companies like Scribe.

The truth is, those agencies are still using the same “middleman” model. They just farm out the work to cheap subcontractors, and Authors get poor quality products as a result.

Here are some easy ways to tell agencies apart from legitimate professional publishing companies:

  1. Do they list the books they’ve done on their site? You’ll notice when you look around online that many services don’t list any of the books they’ve written. If they’re unwilling to share their work so you can see the quality of their books, that’s a red flag. In contrast, legitimate publishing companies will list their books. For example, here’s the list of every book Scribe has published.
  2. Do they list their pricing? You’ll also notice that many services—including most of the ones I linked to above from the first page of Google—do not list their pricing on their site. They say something like, “Request a free quote.” This is another red flag. Legitimate companies will have transparent pricing that you can review without ever reaching out. Every service page on our site lists the exact price we charge for that service.

How Scribe’s Ghostwriting Services Work

We offer 2 ghostwriting services at Scribe:

  1. Scribe Professional: Our classic option designed for entrepreneurs, consultants, and executives who want to write and publish a professional book in their words and in their voice—but don’t have the time or desire to type it themselves.
  2. Scribe Elite Ghostwriting: Our award-winning ghostwriting service that includes additional perks and customization, such as guaranteeing you work with a bestselling writer (i.e., they’ve written or edited Wall Street Journal, USA Today, or New York Timesbestsellers), flying to you to do in-person interviews, and more.

From finance and business books to memoirs and self-help books, Scribe Authors come to us for help in a wide variety of genres. However, our services are exclusively for nonfiction Authors—if you’re looking for a fiction book, we can’t help you.

Scribe Professional costs $40,000 ($5,000/month for 8 months) and includes everything you need to get your own book out into the world.

We only work with the best ghostwriters and have extremely strict guidelines for hiring them. Our Authors must have published at least 3 books prior to working with Scribe.

We offer a money-back guarantee for all of our services. And if the first ghostwriter we pair you with doesn’t work out, we provide you with another one who will.

Here’s what Scribe Professional includes:

  • Validation, structuring, and positioning of your book idea.
  • Comprehensive interviews to get your ideas out of your head and into a book (in your words and your voice).
  • A completed book manuscript reviewed by expert book editors.
  • A beautifully designed book cover and interior layout.
  • Full coordination of all book publishing details (ISBN, author bio, description, etc.).
  • An eBook format of your book.
  • Full printing services, with the ability to order unlimited copies at production cost (with an initial 100-copy gift from us).
  • Full distribution through major online retailers (Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, iBooks)
  • 100% ownership of rights and royalties.
  • First week promotions to help you become an AmazonBestseller (including a scheduled podcast interview and more).
  • Marketing strategy and consultation by our experienced team of book marketers.

Scribe Elite Ghostwriting starts at $120,000. You get everything in the Scribe Professional package plus:

  • Guaranteed pairing with an award-winning ghostwriter who will fly to interview you in person.
  • A complete PR and media campaign, starting prior to launch and lasting a minimum of 3 months.
  • Audiobook creation using a professional voice actor and top of the line studio production.

To learn more, check out our ghostwriting service Scribe Professional or Scribe Elite—or schedule a consult to get in touch with our team.