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How Do I Find Someone to Write My Life Story? (Checklist Included)

People hire writers to help write their memoir for lots of different reasons. 

Perhaps you’re struggling to decide what’s important to include. Maybe some things are simply too difficult emotionally to write about yourself. Perhaps you’ve started a memoir but can’t make headway. Maybe you simply can’t decide where to begin. 

Hiring a professional writer means that someone skilled will organize your stories into a cohesive, compelling read in as little as a few months.

Together, you and your writer will turn your life story into a memoir that will be in your voice and have your message. Though someone else’s hands may have typed the words, those words (and that book) will be yours in every other way.

Before you read ahead, check out Memoirs App from LifeTales. The best app for writing your memoir online.

How Do I Find a Ghostwriter?

“Ghostwriter” is a term for any writer hired to help you write your story in your own voice. 

A simple Google search will turn up any number of reputable writing companies that specialize in memoir and biography (remember—there is a difference!)

Make sure you do your research: some companies are a single individual; others are larger companies with best-sellers under their belts. Either way, know the difference and be sure to ask for samples and references. Make sure you’re happy with the writer before signing a contract. 

The Writing Contract

writing a memoir contract with a ghostwriter

Any reputable ghostwriter or writing firm will have a standard contract that lays out the expectations and obligations of each party to one another. Make sure you read and understand the contract and that you’re in agreement, as it is a legally binding agreement. This is a serious investment of time and money you are making, so it couldn’t hurt to have a lawyer look it over if you are unclear about any of the clauses or terminology. If anything is unclear or makes you uncomfortable ask for clarification or negotiate to reword the contract.

How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Writer for My Life Story?

The short answer is: it depends.

You can find writers who are inexpensive (but probably not as experienced) and writers who have years of experience and even New York Times-bestselling books (but who will cost a lot more to hire). And, as is often the case, you get what you pay for.

For a typical memoir, expect to spend at least thousands of dollars ($7500 to $10,000 on the low end) to tens of thousands of dollars (professional ghostwriters with a serious track record can easily command anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000+ per project).

Payment Schedule for Writing Work

payment schedule for writer

You should work out payment in installments, and these should be spelled out in your contact with the writer. You could pay in thirds (one third on signing, one third on a complete first draft, one third on revised final draft). Or you can pay in quarters or any other breakdown that’s mutually agreeable.

Any request for payment in full upfront should be a red flag, and you should not pay. Walk away from anyone making such demands as it is unprofessional and you might get scammed.

How Long Will It Take to Write My Memoir?

From start to finish, expect the process to take between six and twelve months. This includes time for all interviews, research, drafting, and revision. Other factors, unexpected delays, or requests for changes midway through may extend this range.

If you want a manuscript complete in a short timeframe, it may be possible depending on the writer but expect to pay a premium for an accelerated schedule.

What Will Ghostwriting Involve?

1) Interviews and research to get to know you and your story

This could be handled remotely via Skype or telephone, or it may involve travel by the writer to visit you and your family to conduct interviews. You should expect hours or even days of interviews, depending on the scope and scale of the project. 

2) Planning and outlining your book

With reviews in hand, the writer will begin to work up a plan and outline for your book. They will likely run this outline by you for your approval and input before they start work

3) Ghostwriting the content 

Just like it sounds. This is where the bulk of the writing will occur, based on the interviews and outline.

4) Revisions based on your feedback and guidance

You will have an opportunity to read and review the draft, either in stages or once completed. At that point, you should make a detailed list of changes or corrections you’d like the ghostwriter to make. If you don’t want any, that’s great! But if you do, your writer should revise the work until you are satisfied with the product.

5) Editing to eliminate spelling and grammar errors

Editing (also called copyediting) is usually the last stage. Once the writing and revisions are complete, the writer will go through the work to ensure it is as error-free as possible.

Who Owns the Rights to the Work?

As a work-for-hire project, the contract you sign with the writer should spell out that you—the person who commissioned the work—will have all rights to the work, including copyright. The contract should also say that you’re free to pursue use of the material in whatever way you want with no further compensation due to the writer. 

We hope this post helps you hire the right person to write your life story or memoir. If you want to start writing your memoir yourself, try the Memoirs App from LifeTale for free.