What Is Ghostwriting?

caricature of Karen Cioffi-Ventrice, Ghostwriter and Editor
Karen Cioffi, Ghostwriter and Editor


“What Is Ghostwriting?” by Joan Y. Edwards with guest, Karen Cioffi.

Today I asked Karen Cioffi to help us understand what a ghostwriter is and what they can do for writers.

Thank you very much, Karen for joining me today to explain about ghostwriting and answer my questions.

What is ghostwriting?

Ghostwriting is a service a writer offers an author or other person who needs something written, possibly for: a book, a speech, a script for a movie or play, a podcast, a webinar, website content, articles, sales letters, the list can go on and on.

What does a ghostwriter do?

Simply put, a ghostwriter is hired to write content for someone.

Usually, ghostwriters aren’t listed on the finished product. Their total compensation is monetary. They have no claim to the work after it’s paid for. The work is considered work-for-hire.

There are cases, though, where the ghostwriter is mentioned. Some books have the authors name “with” the ghostwriter’s name.

There are also cases where the ghostwriter will take a percentage of the sales from the book or other content as payment or partial payment.

I’m sure there are other arrangements between a ghostwriter and client. I only do work-for-hire.

What is the difference between an editor and a ghostwriter?

An editor edits an existing manuscript or other existing content. Editing consists of line editing, copyediting, and substantive editing.

For a breakdown of these services, you can check out:


A ghostwriter usually works off an idea, notes, an outline, or a draft. Using a book as the project, the ghostwriter will create a story, including a full story and character arc.

Most of my clients have an idea.

When do you need a ghostwriter? When would an editor be better for you?

As mentioned above, for editing, the author already wrote the manuscript. An editor will help tweak it, possibly getting it ready for submission or publication.

If you have an idea for a story, notes, an outline, but don’t know how to move forward, you would need a ghostwriter.

What fees does a ghostwriter charge? Do you pay a certain amount up front and the rest on completion?

Ghostwriting fees vary greatly. It depends on the genre, the project, and the service you’re dealing with. The ghostwriter’s website should provide the cost for different projects.

I can’t speak for all services, but for me, depending on the amount of the project, the fee will be broken into two to ten payments.

What questions should you ask a prospective ghostwriter?

There are so many ghostwriting scams lately that it’s important for the author to speak to the ghostwriter. The author should also request writing samples.

Usually, the ghostwriter’s website will (should) give a lot of information, but general questions might include:

-How long have you been ghostwriting in this genre?
-Can I have writing samples?
-Do you have a nondisclosure agreement?
-Do you have testimonials. Note here: sometimes ghostwriting clients don’t want to leave a testimonial for obvious reasons.

I give my clients a PDF of what to expect.

What questions will a good ghostwriter ask you about your project?

A good ghostwriter will discuss the project at length with the client. The ghostwriter needs to understand exactly what the client wants.

Questions a ghostwriter might ask:
-What type of book do you want?
-What do you want the takeaway to be?
-Do you have a preference for the main character?
-Do you have character names you prefer?

How long will it take a ghostwriter to complete a writing project?

The length of a project depends on the genre. For my service, a picture book is usually 3-6 weeks; a chapter book is 4-8 weeks, and a middle grade book is 8-12 weeks.

Are there ghostwriters or ghostwriting sites you recommend?

I’m a member of Association of Ghostwriters. There’s also Gotham Ghostwriters and Scribe Media.

About Karen:

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter with clients worldwide. She’s also an author/blogger online instructor with WOW! Women on Writing, and the owner and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move.

Amazon.”Walking Through Walls” by Karen Cioffi.
Barnes and Noble. “Walking Through Walls” by Karen Cioffi

Amazon. “How to Write A Children’s Fiction Book” by Karen Cioffi

Amazon Day’s End Lullaby by Karen Cioffi and Robyn Feltman


Website: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com
Books: https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/
Writers on the Move https://writersonthemove.com
Email: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com

Links for Rates:
Ghostwriting Rates https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/ghostwriting/
Rewriting Rates https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/rewriting/Testimonials: as Testimonials for Karen as ghostwriter and editor https://karencioffiwritingforchildren.com/testimonials/

Thanks for explaining about ghostwriting for us, Karen.

You are very welcome, Joan. If anyone has questions, I’ll be glad to answer them in the comment area.

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Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2009-2022 Joan Y. Edwards

7 thoughts on “What Is Ghostwriting?”

    1. Dear Karen,
      Aww. You make me smile. Thanks again for giving the answers to the questions I believe a lot of people have about ghostwriting! Thanks for subscribing to my blog!

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

  1. Hi Joan,

    important information when writing is when you have self edited, put the manuscript away, whether handwritten or electronic. You’ll be surprised how many typo’s or mistakes there are, even though you scrutinized the pages.
    The problem is, you either read what should be there, or what isn’t supposed to be there.
    It is also good practice to get a valued person to read for you and critique the manuscript, someone who will be honest in their review and not comment t please you.

    1. Dear David,
      Thank you very much for writing. You are right it is always a great idea to have someone you trust to read your manuscript and give you ideas to help edit it and also to let you know when parts of it doesn’t seem right. And sometimes when we read our own manuscripts, we don’t see the errors..

      Good luck with your writing!
      Never Give Up

  2. Way to go, Karen. You have much knowledge to share. I also know you have been a big help to Joan with her writing!

    1. Dear Linda,
      Thank you very much for writing. Yes, indeed, Karen is very knowledgeable and is talented in many avenues of writing! She believed in and edited Joan’s Elder Care Guide for me through 4RV Publishing. Believe in you!

      Never Give Up

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