Don’t get me wrong – at United Ghostwriters, we love building relationships with our clients, but now and then, we seem to get approached by some people who may have unrealistic expectations about the ghostwriting process. Here are 5 statements that are best avoided when making first contact with a ghostwriter.

  1. “It’s going to be a best-seller”

While everyone has the right to a vision, I would urge you not to set your hopes too high. Unless you plan on buying thousands of your own books (yes, this really happens), or hiring a PR firm to spread the word, then there is no guarantee of having a best-seller. Even if you did do all this, publishing is an unpredictable game. A best-selling book depends on the quality of the writing as well as marketing efforts. Of course, we at UG can help you get the best chance of having a best-seller, but it’s not guaranteed.

2. “I can’t pay you that much but please write my book anyway!”

This one is particularly galling and happens more often than you may think. Why do some people think professional ghostwriters will agree to being paid very little for years of experience and expertise? I wonder if there is any other professional person in the world who would agree to working under these conditions. It’s like saying to a builder, “I want you to build my house, but I can’t pay you what you have quoted me. Will you build my house anyway?”

3. “Let’s arrange our first meeting in my hotel room/apartment”

Personally, it sends alarm bells when a prospective client requests a first meeting in a private rather than public place. I recall one ghostwriter who turned up to a client’s apartment only to be greeted by her client wearing nothing but a bathrobe. Meeting in a neutral, quiet public space is usually preferable to a ghostwriter, until the relationship develops into one of honesty, trust and respect.

4. “Come and interview me in (insert country here). You’ll have to pay for your own travel expenses.”

While I love working with people around the world, I can’t think of one argument that would persuade me to pay for my own flights and accommodation. This might sounds obvious, but in the ghostwriting world, the onus is on the client to pay for travel expenses, especially if they are in a different country.

5. “Everyone thinks I should write a book!”

Does it matter what everyone else says? The only person that matters is you. If you, in your own heart, know that writing a book is the best way to get all your thoughts, passions and knowledge onto the page, then that is the only thing that counts. When your book comes from the heart, your audience will follow.

So before you get in touch, set your expectations, think about your budget, and more importantly, ask yourself if you really want to write a book. If you do these three things, you will have more chance of a successful relationship with your ghostwriter.

Emma Murray is a best-selling author and ghostwriter, specialising in business, psychology and higher education. She also ghosts books, blogs, articles, case studies, and book proposals.