Steve Eggleston – Hiring and Working with a Professional Ghostwriter

The Spark

It begins with a spark. You have an idea that deserves a book. It could a memoir, a fictional story that would make a good read, maybe even a movie, a real-life injustice that cries for exposure, or simply a way to establish yourself as an authority in your chosen field of endeavor.

The Writer for Hire

You’re not a professional writer or you’re so busy you need help to write this book. You scour the internet, delve into the google ads, consume the organic search results, and go onto Upwork. When the process is done, you’ve hired yourself a ghostwriter to collaborate on your book.

Working Title and Outline

The first task is to create a good, working outline. Depending on the book, the outline can be general or details. Some are best organized by larger parts, while others need a detailed, chapter-by-chapter dissertation. Give your ghostwriter what you have and wait for him to produce and outline. Rework it a bit but don’t get bogged down.

Introduction and First Chapter

The ghost will then write a draft of the First Chapter and sometimes a Preface or Introduction. Emphasis is on the word “draft.” The purpose of this early draft is to get started, find a narrative style that works (tense, pov, etc.), and start to create momentum. It is possible it will be deleted entirely or radically rewritten by the end.

A Note on Drafts

Drafts might start out reading like a regular book but that won’t last for long. Drafts are part of the creative process, the dynamic portion that’s often radically changed and revised (now and later). So don’t get hung up on them. They will look much different when the process is complete.

Grammar and Typos

Drafts will have both. Don’t worry about that other than to correct the easy ones as you go, but without overdoing it. Many of the paragraphs, sentences, and words will de discarded or edited out along the way. Badly conceived, redundant, too early to reveal, unnecessary or unwanted for a myriad of reasons. At the end, the job of the copyeditor (not the ghost) is to catch and fix these.

Names, Spelling, Factual Errors or Omissions

These are the ones to catch. Don’t expect your ghost to remember or dwell on these. His job is to find the narrative of the story, the rhythm and the beat of the prose, the flow of the book – per your wishes, of course. Often he doesn’t know names, spellings, times, and places, because he was not there. And because he’s not a computer, don’t expect him to remember them all or burn time chasing them down. It’s much more efficient for you to just correct it as you go.

The Author’s Voice

Another important part of early Chapters is finding the voice of the author. Unless the author wants the ghost to use his own voice, which is rarely the case, this is a good time for the author to start working in his own personality, quirks, and idioms. We all have a certain way of saying things, so this aspect is imbuing the book with enough of you that readers who know you will instantly say: “That is so (Mike)!”   

Intermediate Chapters

Here it’s rinse and repeat, except now your ghost will also work on segueing from chapter to chapter smoothly, asking questions that seem to be unanswered, and molding the overall glow of the book. Quite quickly the arc of the book should also start to show, though this abstract feat often is adjusted throughout. Also, as you go, continue to add your unique voice and the voice of the times, especially as expressed in dialogue.

Full Draft of Book

Again, remember you are working with a draft, not a final, polished product. This is the time to deconstruct the book, add and delete, note places that need improvement. While this is also done along the way, many times omissions in the early part of a book are filled later. But if the omission survives to the end, now is the time to address it. Redundancies must be reconciled and flare must added where parts fall flat or become tedious.


The polish is the ghost’s final submission manuscript. It is no longer a draft. From here, you go to your Beta readers for input and adjustment, and after those insights are received and incorporated, it’s time to go to your copyeditor. When the copyedited book comes back, it usually is time to submit to an agent or get ready for self-publishing.

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