Memoir Ghostwriting – Six Considerations in Establishing a Working Relationship With a Co-Writer

What a relief to have finally decided on a ghostwriter whom you feel you can work with. The future of your relationship will depend, however, on how well and clearly you agree on the financial and procedural aspects of your collaboration. Be sure you come to agreement on the following topics.

1. Work ought to be performed by the hour rather than by the project. While it is tempting to choose a per project fee, a project-fee arrangement is a troubling one. As the payer, you want more for your money. As the provider, the writer wants to minimize changes to the manuscript so as to be able to fulfill the project objectives in a way that is profitable for him/her. A project fee leads to conflict. A per-hour fee, while it would seem to lead to the writer stretching the project out so s/he can charge you more, usually this is not true. The writer is a professional with other projects to move on to after yours is done with.

2. Ask the writer to submit to you in writing all the procedural requirements that will help move the project along. This includes how to format any writing you send, how to submit photos, etc. (This clarity will help keep fees down.)

3. Request regular billing so as to keep tabs on the amount of work being performed and the amount of charges being levied. The writer needs to be paid regularly and you must not be slammed with two months of fees that add up to the thousands of dollars.

4. If a timeline is important to you, negotiate that with the writer. Your writer cannot meet your deadline if you do not reveal it. Be sure your deadline is not fickle but is truly important to you. Your writer will pick up the irrelevancy of your deadline and will resent your pressure and not respect it.

5. Be sure that your preferred method of communication will be possible. Some memoir clients insist on meeting with the writer in person and will drive long distances to sit with the ghostwriter, others prefer phone calls, and still others want all communications to be by mail or e-mail, The choice ought to be yours and the ghostwriter ought to conform to it. You are paying the bill.

6. Understand what is billable and what is not. When you call to chat about your cute granddaughter, will you be billed for that as professional time the writer is spending with the client? While such billing may seem off the wall to certain talkative clients, the co-author has a right and a need to protect her/himself against endless contacts with the client that sap away at office time.On the other hand, the memoir subject ought to be able to call to ask for a update on the project without being charged for doing so. Clarity about billing can go a long way towards averting conflict.

Treat your writer as the professional s/he is, and you will receive great service.


Hiring a ghostwriter to write your memoir is an excellent choice when you can’t write your book, when you do not have the time to write, or when you simply choose not to. A good ghostwriter will find your voice and use it to write a book that sounds just like you.

I have been helping people to write their stories since 1988. Call me today at 207-353-5454 for a free consultation about how you and I can collaborate to write your memoirs. For more ghostwriting info, visit my site at

Next year at this time, you could be holding your memoirs!


About Denis Ledoux

Denis Ledoux began helping people to turn their memories into memoirs in 1988. Denis was named Lifewriting Professional of the Year by the Association of Personal Historians in 1996. Today, Denis is a writer, educator, teacher, autobiography co-author, memoir-writing coach, editor and publisher. He directs The Memoir Network, an international group of memoir professionals who use his method and materials to help people write lifestories. Denis also offers writing tele-classes and leads memoir writing tele-groups.
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2 Responses to Memoir Ghostwriting – Six Considerations in Establishing a Working Relationship With a Co-Writer

  1. Clara says:

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    • Denis Ledoux says:

      Dear Clara,

      Thank you for cheering for us. We always appreciate hearing from readers.

      What’s the URL on blogroll where we can find how you have incorporated us?

      Keep in the memoir conversation.


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