As covered in Where Professional Ghostwriters Go Awry, finding the best ghostwriter for your project is often far more difficult than the rather straightforward official hiring process. And asking the right questions during the interview process is perhaps the most important component of your search.
With all the independent professional ghostwriters and the many platforms for hiring freelancers, the first phase of finding the right ghostwriter may be quite easy. This of course depends on your project, and it depends on the calibur of ghostwriter you want for your project.
For example, if you’re a public figure or business executive wanting an elite ghostwriter to pull together your memoir, it may be difficult to find the right person through a platform, many of which tout their credentials as quantity over quality, like this:
To be fair, there are many great ghostwriters in those platforms. But there are also a slew of ghostwriters whose best accolade is that they are willing to write for you.
Depending on your needs, access to this many ghostwriters can be fantastic. It means you can, quite literally, find a decent writer for your project within minutes.
This is a relatively simple process, and need not be expanded on much. However, if you’re looking for a professional ghostwriter of a different calibur and you’re willing to take the time to interview several of them in order to find the right one, then this article is for you.
Here are 10 questions that are critical to ask the ghostwriter you’re thinking about hiring:
- What brought you to the ghostwriting industry?
- What do you believe sets you apart from other ghostwriters?
- Why are you particularly drawn to this project?
- What ghostwriting challenges have you learned to overcome?
- Will you be working on other projects in addition to mine?
- Can you speak to your project management processes?
- What do you believe is the most important part of the ghostwriter-client relationship?
- Can you speak to how this project is similar to other projects you’ve worked on?
- Do you have three references I could talk to about the quality of your work?
- Do you have any questions for me? (a silent question)
Let’s take a deeper look into each of these, keeping in mind that the questions can be asked in different ways and that there are not perfect answers (although there are great answers depending on what your project entails and what qualities you want in a ghostwriter):
Ghostwriter Question 1: What brought you to the ghostwriting industry?
This is a big question, and is as much a way to gauge the ghostwriter’s authenticity as anything else. How honest was their answer? Did it continuously circle back to sly ways of complimenting themselves, or did they give you a true glimpse into the parts of their life journey that led them to ghostwriting?
Perhaps more than any of the other questions, allow this one to open up into a conversation. Be interested and dig deeper. You’ll find glimpses into their character as you listen to their story.
Ghostwriter Question 2: What do you believe sets you apart from other ghostwriters?
Ghostwriters are expecting the question, “So… who have you worked with?” and they likely have a canned response to that one. However, this question asks them to intentionally position themselves and their unique skillset in the overall field.
This can be especially important if the ghostwriter does not have a website or much of a social media presence and yet is one those “800+” ghostwriters on a platform. If there are 800+, what makes them different?
Ghostwriter Question 3: Why are you particularly drawn to this project?
This question moves beyond the typical how to type questions and gets directly into the why. Upon asking this you are again looking for their authenticity. Did they do their due diligence to know what the project is really about? Did they take the appropriate time to research you?
Depending on the scope of the project, ghostwriting relationships can be long-term. Did they care enough to spend a considerable amount of time to learn who you are before wanting to sign the contract? If not, what might that say about the nature of their work?
Ghostwriter Question 4: What ghostwriting challenges have you learned to overcome?
This question can get directly into their mistakes and weaknesses, unless they mask it by speaking generally about the ghostwriting industry or by pivoting the conversation toward how the challenges they faced are actually because of their amazing work ethic or incredibly demanding high-profile clients.
This is a chance for you to see how reflective they are. Are they the type of ghostwriter who just wants to get a project done and make some quick money, or are they the type who wants each of their projects to be a bit better than the last one based on the lessons they’ve learned?
Ghostwriter Question 5: Will you be working on other projects in addition to mine?
This is a straight yes or no question. If yes, consider asking them to expand on any details they may be legally able to share about those projects—and ask if they are confident in being able to juggle multiple priorities.
If no, ask if they typically take on one at a time. If so, why? Have they always worked like this?
Ghostwriter Question 6: Can you speak to your project management processes?
This is one aspect that can separate elite ghostwriters from content creators who are willing to do some ghostwriting. If this trips up the ghostwriter, you’ll know they may not be familiar with the field of project management. This can be okay and they may still have great project management skills.
Or it may mean they fly by the seat of their pants—taking on projects and hammering them out without doing the important work of reflecting on what worked and what didn’t. Additionally, a ghostwriter with solid project management skills can more easily balance several projects at once.
Ghostwriter Question 7: What do you believe is the most important part of the ghostwriter-client relationship?
This is another big question, and signals to the ghostwriter a) that this project means more to you than simply finding someone to do it and b) that you know the importance of such a relationship to the overall process.
It’s also a great way to gauge how they think about the relationship. Is it more about the deliverables to them, or are they also interested in getting to know you for the sake of making the project a success?
Ghostwriter Question 8: Can you speak to how this project is similar to other projects you’ve worked on?
As with Ghostwriting Question 2, this is another way to skirt around the “Who have you worked with?” question and get into the details that actually matter (and can be answered). Rather than asking them to drop names—which they may not be allowed to do depending on the contracts they’ve signed—this allows you to uncover the type of projects they’ve worked on and why they took them on in the first place.
Such information can be valuable to you, especially if you are looking for a ghostwriter who has focused on a particular niche—such as writing Christian books, the memoirs of athletes, or blog posts for thought leadership.
Ghostwriter Question 9: Do you have three references I could talk to about the quality of your work?
Many ghostwriters rely on referrals, often in small circles of people in their niche, as a way to spread their name and land more work. While it can be great to speak to a few of these people (again, depending on the contracts they’ve signed), also consider speaking to people in the other lines of work they may have built a career in.
Speak with former professors, former editors at magazines, or publishers of their books. All of these contacts could provide critical details to help you begin to rank the ghostwriter and ultimately make the best decision.
Ghostwriter Question 10: Do you have any questions for me? (a silent question)
Don’t ask this question. I repeat: Do not ask this question. Keep it in the back of your mind and, if throughout the time you’re talking to the ghostwriter, they fail to ask you any questions, consider this a red flag.
Elite ghostwriters are selective with their projects and with the clients they are willing to work with. They are also inquisitive and endlessly curious. If a ghostwriter fails to ask you any questions they may simply be looking for work rather than looking for a project they are best equipped to carry out.
A final word
I encourage you not to be too stiff with each of these questions. If you do choose to ask each of them directly, be sure to let the conversation move naturally. If you have follow-up questions to a few of these, let them flow.
And remember: As much as you are looking for the words of their answer, you’re also looking to see if this ghostwriter has the kind of personality and temperament you could work with for the duration of your project.