10 percent and is considered a finder's fee. Basically, you won't pay anything to your ghostwriter or to the databank service until you have actually selected a writer.
Guru operates similarly. You can visit www.guru.com to find the company's agreements, paying procedures, and finder's fee amounts. The home page of Guru lists categories of freelancers available. You will want to head directly to the "Writing/Editing/Translation" category list on Guru. Currently, there's a fee structure at Guru that varies depending on what type of subscription freelancers or service companies have purchased. Some freelancers can list basic skills and respond to some ads for free. Paid members and companies will have higher profiles and be able to bid more frequently. To post a "ghostwriter wanted" ad is free. You will still have the power to peruse the entire catalog and invite certain service providers to bid on your project. The finder's fees range from 5 to 10 percent, and the finder's fees are pulled from the buyer and/or the seller at Guru.
Guru is a larger site that has won some awards and has a catalog of hundreds of thousands of service providers in their database. Like with Elance, only a fraction of the service providers are ghostwriters looking for ebook work though. But a fraction of almost 500,000 is a good number.
Because of the buyers market, your odds are pretty good for finding someone quickly on the Internet. Postings for "ghostwriter wanted" are a factor of ten fewer than the number of authors that may bid on the job. This is regardless of monthly fees and percentages charged to the writers on the sites. Sometimes there's also a fee-per-bid charge for service providers. Since many ghostwriters who will be responding to your ad are already out of pocket monetarily, they're eager for your project. And, they are serious about their business.
The information available about each service provider, i.e. ghostwriter, can be compared to information available on vendors on the popular eBay
Create Your Own Ebook!
auction site. Histories and rankings on the large sites are readily available for each writer or company you are thinking of hiring. You can see if other clients have been satisfied with a writer's work, and see how many ebooks a ghostwriter has written through the use of the freelancer bank. These indicators can be very helpful when it comes time to make a selection, and I'll talk more about how to choose a writer in the next chapter.
There is another freelance database on the web where ghostwriters lurk sometimes called AllFreelance. There, ebook creators have been known to find ghostwriters using a procedure similar to the ones at Elance or Guru. Ads are placed, and freelance writers respond with bids. I don't like the site myself because of the irritating popups. But, it's got some traffic. If you'd like to check it out, swing by www.allfreelance.com. But don't say I didn't warn you about the popups. I'm a busy man, focused on what I want to get done, and therefore I personally don't generally return to popup sites (as you may be able to tell by now!).
If you don't want the project details public
You may not wish to reveal your one-of-a-kind ebook subject or title to just anybody in what amounts to a classified ad. But you still want to attract competing ghostwriters to your interesting project. Here's what you can do. Both of the freelance database sites provide a mechanism for you to post some information in your ad that only the paid subscribers can see. This is a good way to go, and you'll see during your initial browse of others' ads that many advertisers do this. You'll see a symbol next to the project listing that indicates some of the detail is locked from public view. Already, portions of the ads are hidden from public view, and extra "locking" reduces the visible portions even further.
Also, you can be vague in your ad. There's no need to list your title, ideas of chapters, or even the precise nature of the subject matter. In your ad, you can call your project a "business ebook," if you like.
When you hire a ghostwriter, you will of course need to deliver the particulars so that they can do a great job for you. Even then, it's common to have the writer sign a confidentiality agreement. So, basically, don't worry too much about someone else seeing your idea before your ebook is done. The threat of an ebook idea or title being stolen is not really that high, although as mentioned earlier, ideas are not copyrighted, so someone could rightfully go running off with your idea. The truth is any reader of your book or related sales web site could swipe your ideas just as easily. Regardless of the risks, try not to deliberate or worry excessively. I'm sure you are busy too, and you have better things to do.
You may wonder why the ads are made visible to the public at all. The sites make all ads available in partial form so that unsubscribed visitors may, by viewing samples, be enticed to become members. Everyone starts as a browser and needs something to browse before making larger decisions.
As you browse, you will surely see that invariably, advertisers get some responses that are outrageous. Offers to write a 100 page book in a day for a few hundred bucks. At this stage, just ignore those, and know that regardless of a few sour grapes, overall the system tends to work.
You can move things along a little in terms of trying to get the type of responders you want. Obviously, offering a legitimate amount of time and pay is one way to attract a good ghostwriter. On Elance, you can peruse the database and select certain writers to invite them to bid on your project. On Guru, you can screen out certain types of people from the list to bid on your project.
Once you get to the list on Elance, follow the site's instructions to invite certain people to bid on your project. You can either browse through
the list line by line, and select candidates you like to invite, or you can do a site search for certain types of qualifications. There's usually a limit on how many freelancers you can "invite" to bid. Ten or fifteen writers should be plenty though. The sites limit invitees to keep advertisers from mass-inviting the whole list. That would serve no purpose since ads are viewable by all members, but some advertisers would surely mass-invite to be more visible than competing projects. Limiting invitees takes care of that potential problem.
On Guru, you can limit your ad allowing only writers with certain qualifications to bid. Because Guru's database is so large, most advertisers screen out writers who do not have paid memberships. This, in theory, eliminates fly-by-night writers who are not willing to pay or to maintain a monthly subscription to the service.
On Elance and Guru, most ebooks are outsourced for a flat fee. When I say flat fee, I'm talking about the money you offer to pay the ghostwriter (as opposed to the various percentages and fees taken by the database site). If you choose to, you may, in addition to the flat fee, offer a ghostwriter a per-sale percentage. This is a good-hearted thing to do, since the writer created the work. Even ghostwriters have to live. You are never under any obligation, and most ebook owners don't offer percentages to their ghostwriters.
You will be required to use the payment processors on the sites, so that they can take the appropriate percentages, and also so that the writer is somewhat guaranteed to receive proper payment. For example, on Guru, some writers may opt only to receive payments through an escrow plan. By doing so, they require that their clients have the payment available in full in an escrow account. Although actually payment is not transferred until agreed terms are met, the money is sitting in the account, to be paid upon
completion. Having the money sitting in escrow builds a writer's trust in your ability to pay.
You also may if you wish offer credit to your ghostwriter in your ebook. It's occasionally a common practice with paper books, and you may do the same in your ebook.
I recommend it, because it's a nice thing to do and will please a good writer who you want to remain on good terms with. Here's how you do it without flat-out telling readers your book was ghostwritten. 1) Thank them by name in an acknowledgements paragraph. Don't mention what exactly you're thanking them for. Your acknowledgements paragraph can be in a foreward, and introduction, or near the end of the ebook. 2) Include the ghostwriter name in the byline in an inconspicuous location in the beginning of your ebook. Don't do this on the cover or in your web sales ad, and don't make it prominent. In small print underneath "by" Your Name, include the phrase "with Gary Ghostwriter." 3) Instead of using "with," use "as told by."
I wouldn't go as far as to say that giving partial credit is a universal practice, especially with ebooks, but it is done, so you might want to think about it. I do it sometimes, but not all the time with ebook ghostwriters. I decide based on the quality of their work, the possibility of follow-on ebooks, and whether or not the readership would be compromised in any way.
Here's why I'm telling you the partial credit stuff: even though it's something you can offer that is often considered as good as compensation, I do not recommend that you offer it outright on the database sites. Regardless of what other advertisers are offering, only offer partial credit if the final product warrants it. I implement partial credit on a case by case basis, and never offer it to an unknown writer up front.
Alternative to writer banks
Frankly, placing your project ad into a large database like one on Elance or Guru and getting competing bids is the most efficient way to find a ghostwriter. However, I would be remiss if I didn't at least let you know that there are some ghostwriters that you can hire directly. I mentioned you could look around in writing organizations, but also, you can go directly to any of the web sites listed in the last section of this book. You will need to do your homework, check references, etc. on any of these ghostwriters, just as you would with ghostwriters on the database sites.
To find more individual ghostwriting web sites, search the Internet for "ghostwriting service," or "ebook ghostwriters."
If you hire directly, you will save yourself the finder's fee charged by the database web sites. However, you will not have access to the competitive marketplace and the ranking information from the large sites. On Elance and Guru, after projects are completed, many clients provide some very valuable and useful feedback on their experiences with the ghostwriters they hired. This feedback is available to future clients and people who are placing ads.
Individuals and companies who provide ghostwriting services but are not bidding for your job through Elance or Guru may charge flat fees, percentages, or per-page rates. Some require partial credit in the ebook. Some of them advertise rates that are rather high compared to the ghostwriter banks, but you may also find some that are comparable, such as www.truetalentmedia.com.
Talk to individual-site potential ghostwriters online to find out their fees, experience, and such. If one can't help you, he or she may be able to direct you to someone else in their line of work that can.
However you go about finding one of the many ghostwriters that are lurking day and night, for efficiency's sake, do use the Internet. Post your project on Guru or Elance or both, or initiate contact with an online
ghostwriting service. Once you start getting bids from the banks and/or pricing and service information from the individual ghostwriting services, you'll have decisions to make, and I'll tell you how to choose a writer in the next chapter.
Some tips on posting your ghostwriter wanted ad
Back to the database sites, posting an ad is simple once you have your topic or title selected. You want to include some particulars, but not all of them at this stage. (Once you negotiate terms with a writer, then you will of course put every item that you require into a contract.)
Your ad should include the following items:
1. Short description of the project. A few lines at most.
2. Maximum amount you are willing to pay. Writers can bid lower than this, but they cannot bid above your maximum offering for your project.
3. Date you will close bidding on your project. Close bidding in a few days or a few weeks. Don't leave your ad lingering on the site too much longer than that, because it loses momentum. Besides, if you are not getting responses you like, you can always place another.
4. Deadline the ghostwriter will have to meet. Give the writer a month or six weeks if you can. But, if you really need an ebook in seven days or less, then specify that.
If, for example, you'd like to have an ebook written on the subject of how to homeschool your gifted child, here is some text you might include in your ad.