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A Ghostwriter / Celebrity Books / Publisher Policies – Ask Anne The Pro Writer

questions-about-writingHi Anne,

I have a friend who recently was featured by chance in The New York Times. Her business boomed and Nightline called her to appear on the show.

She asked me if I would be interested in being a ghostwriter for  a book that would coincide with her recent success. The important thing in her mind is the timeliness of such a book. She is anxious to start shopping the idea around.

Her questions are:

  1. If a celebrity approaches a publishing house with an idea, do they have writers that they assign such projects to?
  2. Do publishers sign contracts for partially completed work? (I’m assuming no unless a famous author they have experience with)



Hi Beth,

As I understand it a book like this is most often called an issue book. And timing is critical as you know. The sooner the book is released the better.

Yes, publishers have freelance writers they call to do issue books, but that doesn’t mean she can’t suggest you. Last year I was “pitched” to an agent and did some work on an issue book. For a variety of reasons it didn’t come together, but if it had the publisher would probably have hired me as the ghostwriter.

As far as partially completed work. I’m not sure what you mean. A book proposal would seem to be in order and that typically has one to three chapters, plus a detailed table of contents (I actually sell an ebook on book proposals that’s worked for a number of people.) So in that sense publisher will look at partial work. A formal book proposal is probably the best approach unless someone knows the editor well enough to say “you really need to look at this.”

I’m thinking your friend might need an agent first. It’s hard to know. Have your friend start working her own contacts while you’re working yours.

Good luck!

Do you have a question about freelance writing? Ask Anne, The Writing Pro – that’s me 😉 Ask in the comments or send an email and put Q&A in the subject line so I can sort it out from spam and I’ll do my best. Meanwhile, you’ll find some Q&A’s here: Ask Anne, The Pro Writer.

Anne Wayman, freelance writer

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Hi Anne,

    I’ve been receiving your emails for a while now, and enjoying your blog. It helps give encouragement to me as a freelance writer down here in Oz.

    Nice blog.


    • Anne

      Glad to have readers from the other side of the world. Spent about 10 days in Brisbane ages ago and loved it.

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