The Mystery of the Ghostwriting Process

By Jeffrey A. Mangus

The Mystery of the Ghostwriting Process

“I want to do something splendid…
Something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead… I think I shall write books.”

~ Louisa May Alcott

All right, you’ve been thinking of writing a book and finally decided the timing is right to get it done. Oh, but wait… there is a snag. You’re not a writer and need the help of a professional to write your book. That is perfectly normal, and fortunately, you’re on the right track. Studies show that over 97% of people who write a book never finish it. That’s an astonishing number. Also, it is estimated that only 30 people out of 1,000 who set out to write a book succeed—considering that only 20% of people who write a book actually publish it, meaning that only six people are published. So writing a book with a professional ghostwriter, you are already ahead of the game because recognizing your need for a professional to put the final touches on your masterpiece is a bold move and worthy.  

For our argument, I am assuming you, as a new aspiring author, have hired a ghostwriter to write your book. And let’s assume you’ve talked and discussed your book idea in length, discussed the concept, and agreed on a fee that works for your budget. So what happens next? At this stage, it is normal to feel apprehensive, nervous, and even a little afraid with questions in your head; what if I mess up? What if it isn’t done right? How do I figure out the process?

When I speak to new authors about their book ideas, one of the most asked questions is about the process and how it all works. As you search for your ghostwriter, understand that every ghostwriter has their process and method, and it is in your best interest to understand the process presented to make your book successful.

My ghostwriting process follows a simple yet effective process with the necessary steps to write a book successfully. After ghostwriting twenty-five books, my method has proven to be efficient, and smooth for every author, and I am presenting this process to you to consider.

Here are the 21 steps of my book-writing process:

 1. Aspiring Author wants a book written and decides to have a book ghostwritten.

2. The author contacts me about the book.

3. The author schedules an appointment to discuss the details and requirements of the book.

4. The author and I meet over the phone or Zoom® and learn about the book project and the author’s vision.

5. The author agrees to receive a Statement of Work (SOW) with book/content and fee details

6. Author and I negotiate the terms and writing fee until both parties are satisfied.

7. The author is presented with a formal Statement of Work Contract to sign. (SOW).

8. Once signed, the author receives an invoice on the first down payment.

9. The author approves the book project outline and details, and the author and ghostwriter sign the contract.

 10. The author pays the down payment.

11. Author and ghostwriter schedule our first book interview.

12. Ghostwriter interviews the author for OVERVIEW, OUTLINE, GOALS, and TIMELINE.  Each chapter is recorded with audio and video.

13. Book writing begins. First, the ghostwriter interviews the author if needed, performs additional research, and verifies sources. Then, the ghostwriter (me) writes the first chapter (Frankendraft).

14. The ghostwriter sends the first draft to the author. Author REVIEWS, REVISES, AND RETURNS chapter for finalization.

15. Steps 12-14 are repeated for all continuing chapters.

16. When all chapters are written and the manuscript is completed, the author receives the manuscript and reviews the book. Then, the author makes final revisions and returns the book with revision requests.

17. Ghostwriter (me) completes all revision requests

18. Send the manuscript to the author for final approval.

19. Send the manuscript to editors and proofreaders for formatting, proofing, and final editing.

20. Send the Author’s final marketable professional manuscript.

21. Send the final invoice to the author before the final delivery of the final manuscript.

One key element to remember while working with your ghostwriter; things do go wrong. American novelist Robert Bloch said, “The man who smiles when things go wrong has thought of someone to blame it on.” When things go wrong with ghostwriting and author collaborations, it may or may not be the ghostwriter’s fault. It is possible to avoid problems during the book writing process by following and implementing a few strategies:

  • As the author, do everything you can to help your ghostwriter successfully capture your voice.
  • Provide the ghostwriter with written material, recorded notes, audio recordings, or even videos to help them study your style, diction, and favored phrases to capture your voice.

In my experience as a ghostwriter, the more I immerse myself in an author’s life and work, the easier it is for me to write and capture their voice. Collaborative success depends on the willingness, trustworthiness, and accessibility of each party. Clear your schedule to meet with your ghostwriter on the agreed-upon schedule. And make the most of the meetings by cutting back on idle chit-chat, using every minute to work on your book.

The first draft of every chapter is what I refer to as a “Frankendraft,” so, consider each chapter as being built and put together in collaboration with your writer. Allow your writer the leeway to narrow in on your voice. It will take a few passes to get there, so give them some galloping room. However, if there are any major pending issues you can’t let go of, speak up and resolve them. Make sure the ghostwriter captures the nuance of your stories, skills, mission, and ideas by carefully reviewing the writing. Ensure you can visualize yourself saying the words as you read the draft. Be open and honest with yourself. Do you hear your voice loud and clear? Make sure you do, and I hope that your words transcend, leaving a legacy as a national bestselling book.

To learn more about my ghostwriting process or have a book idea you want to discuss, please schedule a free book consultation; please visit and schedule a Kick Start Book Consultation at or email me with questions at

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Marcia Layton Turner


  1. Marcy Barbaro on February 2, 2023 at 1:05 pm

    Is the cost of editors and proofreaders for formatting, proofing, and final editing included in the ghostwriting fee? Or are these costs covered separately by the author?

    • Marcia Layton Turner on February 2, 2023 at 1:34 pm

      Good question, Marcy. Ghostwriters are typically only responsible for drafting the manuscript and handling one or two rounds of edits. Once finalized, it is then handed over to a publisher for production, which generally includes another round of edits, proofreading, then formatting, layout, and printing. There are some ghostwriters who manage both parts of the process, but they are considered two steps: writing and then production. Hope that helps.

      • Marcy Barbaro on February 2, 2023 at 2:04 pm

        Thanks Marcia! This was as I suspected.
        Have a wonderful day!

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