Sunday, October 4, 2015

(Free Template) Basic Ghostwriting Agreement & FAQ

At the end of this post, there is a pretty straightforward Ghostwriting Agreement template I've written. It's similar to what I've used for my own ghostwriters. Ghostwriters are not just for famous people writing memoirs. Small businesses often use ghostwriters for blog posts, articles and the like. This template I wrote is tailored for such small projects where the fee to be paid for each piece of content is to be negotiated as the need arises. This way the parties don't need to sign another contract every time there is a need for fresh content. This template may also be scaled up to include books, royalties, etc. 

Key Aspects of the template:

- Author retains all IP ownership rights over the Ghostwriter's work product.

Ghostwriter must maintain confidentiality.

Ghostwriter guarantees that none of the work product is plagiarized

The easiest method to avoid big disagreements is probably for the ghostwriter to share chapters with the author as they are written. As a result, the author may be completely engaged in the process from the start, assessing the material and tone and suggesting if anything is missing. If anything isn't quite right, it may be fixed before the process degrades into bitter squabbles.

However, it is critical that all sides of a partnership be completely prepared and understand what to do if anything goes wrong. As a result, agreeing on a legally binding contract is one of the most critical initial stages in the whole ghostwriting process and should be completed before writing a single word. Although trust between the two parties is the foundation of a strong partnership, it always, always makes sense to work up a solid written agreement right from the start. This way, everyone has something to fall back on if things don't go as planned.

A contract should include provisions regarding remuneration, ownership and control, credit, plagiarism, responsibilities, dispute resolution, copyright, and libel. There may also be a section for ancillary topics such as media rights, licensing, and sequel rights.


How much the ghostwriter will be paid; are they entitled to a percentage share of revenues? There should also be information about when and how payments will be made. A part of the amount is often paid in advance, with the remainder paid in agreed-upon payments until and including delivery. This part should also include expenditures and who will pay if the ghostwriter is need to travel extensively for interviews and remain away from home. Sometimes both parties will agree to split expenditures, just as they would split revenues, but it is preferable to discuss this publicly.


Copyright protects ghostwritten articles. 17 U.S.C. 101 governs the ownership of ghostwritten articles and other works under US Copyright law. Only the author or those deriving rights from the author may claim copyrights. If you didn't write an article, the ghostwriter may possess the rights.

Section 101 defines "a work done for hire" to determine who owns works or ghost-written articles. Ghostwritten articles are sometimes "works for hire." Section 101 establishes two types of "work for hire." "Work created for hire" is defined under Section 101.

    1) a work done in the course of employment; or

    2) commissioned work for use  as a collaborative production, component of a film or audiovisual work, translation, additional work, compilation, instructional book, exam, test answer material, or atlas.

So, if the ghostwriter is an employee and authored the piece as part of her or his job, you or your firm control the copyrights. When the ghostwriter isn't an employee or the material wasn't created for work, then  article's copyrights must be transferred to you in writing.

If the ghostwriter won't transfer copyrights, you may have other options. You may hold copyrights on ghostwritten material if it's part of a "collective work" or "compilation" in which you possess rights but things get messy there.


The ownership and control section will include information on who is in charge of the project, such as who is responsible for finding book deals and who has the power to approve the final draft of the work or request adjustments.

A reasonable constraint on the approvals procedure imposed by a ghostwriter is not unreasonable. They may, for example, request a resubmission period of at least 30 days after receiving the author's remarks. There may also be a provision for what defines a 'satisfactory' manuscript, which will most likely correspond to the original book proposal, i.e. if the book closely follows the format agreed upon in the first plan, it should be judged acceptable for all intents and purposes. This protects both parties in the event that one of them attempts to shift the goalposts throughout the process against the preferences of their co-writer.


An author and their ghostwriter must agree on what credit the co-writer would get, if any, and how prominent it will be. Opinions on how much or how little credit a ghostwriter should be given and where their name should appear in the book vary greatly. Again, it is preferable to reach an agreement as soon as possible, preferably before the book starts to take form.


It is highly important for a ghostwriter to provide some specificity in the contract regarding what is anticipated from the author. While it is the professional co-responsibility writer's to provide the goods, it is important to state upfront what an author brings to the table. It should be more than just their name. An author must commit to X amount of hours of interviews with their ghostwriter for the cooperation to function. The quantity may vary from writer to writer, but if both sides agree on at least a general estimate of the number of hours required up front, there will be no surprises later on.


All clients are concerned about their privacy. Some projects may entail sensitive information. In such instances, ghostwriters must ensure the confidentiality of their customers' information. Ghostwriters working on whitepapers, for example, may have access to private material. As a result, the customer must ensure that the ghostwriter will handle sensitive material with the greatest secrecy. It is worth remembering that most of the information generated for customers is confidential if there is a confidentiality clause in the ghostwriter agreement or there is a separate NDA. It should go without saying that any ghostwriter who refuses to sign an NDA is untrustworthy. As a result, any unwillingness to sign an NDA should raise a significant red signal.  Effective NDAs must specify what information the ghostwriter will have access to and how they should treat it. For example, if the ghostwriter will have access to research data, the client may want that it not be stored on the ghostwriter's own computer. As a result, the ghostwriter may be required to work at the client's location in order to have access to the material. In other circumstances, the client may provide the ghostwriter with a computer so that all research and written work is kept on the client's computer systems. Please bear in mind that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are standard business practice for ghostwriters. As a consequence, it should be no surprise for ghostwriters to sign such agreements. Furthermore, the majority of professional freelance ghostwriters have their own NDA templates. These templates address the fundamentals of a confidentiality agreement. In such circumstances, customers should carefully read the legal terminology. 

On some occasions, a ghostwriter may violate an NDA. In order to boost their reputation, a ghostwriter, for example, reveals their client list and who they have written for.  Clients must spell out in the contract  if they want to stay entirely anonymous. It must state that the ghostwriter may not use them as a reference. In any case, before using clients as references, a reputable ghostwriter would consult with them first anyway.

Dispute Resolution

Finally, what are the dispute resolution procedures? The contract should include the procedures that both parties should take if they are dissatisfied with the development of the book. Remote arbitration by the submission of documents (without any in-person) hearings is good when the parties are far apart (different cities, states and countries).

What kind of projects do ghostwriters work on?

If you need any form of writing done, there is a ghostwriter out there that can help you. Some people call themselves ghostwriters, while others call themselves professional writers, freelance writers, or even copywriters. You may discover a ghostwriter for any form of writing assignment, regardless of the label. Some ghostwriters specialize in nonfiction book writing, such as biographies and memoirs, while others write in a variety of genres.
Ghostwriters will create how-to or nonfiction books, novels, screenplays for movies and theater, music and lyrics, speeches, comic acts, TV scripts, blogs, articles for both online and print publications, and so on. Ghostwriters may also create a wide range of commercial documents (like web pages, white papers, and brochures). Some people even write scholarly papers.

Do I have to tell my publisher about my ghostwritten book if I attempt to have it published?

No one needs to know that you hired a ghostwriter to create your project if you're self-publishing it, such as a nonfiction book or novel. The same is true if you want to get it published by a conventional publisher. All rights and credit for your project are yours and yours alone as a result of your employment, payment to, and contract with a ghostwriter. The contract guarantees that the work is yours, exactly as if you authored it yourself. Only you and the ghostwriter (or ghostwriting firm) are aware of the situation. You are protected by any confidentiality and/or nondisclosure agreements entered into, and you are not required to reveal the agreement to anybody unless you desire to.

How can I locate a ghostwriter to hire?

A simple internet search can provide more authors for hire than you could ever contemplate in a lifetime. You may refine this list down to authors in your area, then contact and interview them for your ghostwriting requirements. There is nothing wrong with beginning in this manner. However, not all ghostwriters are created equal, and locating and employing one may be time-consuming. If you're on a tight schedule, you probably don't have time to fully select a writer who will meet your requirements.

Another approach to discover ghostwriters is via Upwork and other freelance bidding platforms. Hubstaff and Fiverr are comparable and might be a fantastic place to start to explore what's out there. Thousands upon thousands of freelance writers offer their skills on websites like these, all competing for writing jobs. While the writing fees may seem to be incredible, be cautious. Many of the writers that submit bids to you will lack the credentials and expertise required to complete your job. Writers on these sites come from all over the globe and may be unfamiliar with your subject. They may not even understand your language.

Another alternative is to work with a firm that has a large team of ghostwriters at their disposal and has already done the screening process on the authors' talents and knowledge in order to match you with the ideal ghostwriter for your project. Many of these organizations also provide other services related to your writing assignment, such as editing and proofreading, as well as layout, cover design, printing, and distribution. While there are hundreds of firms, The Writers For Hire, Ghostwriters Central, Ghostwriter Inside, and Scribe are decent places to start (formerly Book In A Box).

What is the procedure for hiring a ghostwriter?

Hiring a ghostwriter is a very typical procedure, whether you utilize an individual ghostwriter or a ghostwriting firm.
First, interview possible ghostwriters to locate one who is a good match for your project and with whom you would feel comfortable working. While some projects are shorter and require less time to finish, writing a 250-page book might easily take at least nine months. You want to ensure that you can have a long-term relationship that is compatible with both of your personalities. Ask as many questions as you need to gain a solid idea of the ghost's credentials, skill set, and work style during the interview. Also, attempt to offer as much information about your assignment as possible so the writer knows whether they can finish the task to your specifications.
Once you've decided on a ghostwriter, spell out the contract conditions, payment, entire scope of work, and dates. Provide any hardcopy information you may have about your project to assist the writer in getting started. The ghostwriter will begin compiling the material supplied, detailing the research and interviews that will be conducted, and creating an overview of the project as well as a summary to demonstrate their grasp of the topic. You will most likely meet with your ghostwriter multiple times throughout this first step to ensure that you both understand the objectives, tone, and substance.
After you've approved the outline and summary, the ghost will do the required research and interviews before beginning to write the manuscript. Depending on your arrangement, most ghostwriters will offer you written chapters for review, providing you the opportunity to make revisions, edits, comments, or recommendations.
When the draft is finished, the ghostwriter will go over it and make a thorough edit before presenting it to you for approval. Many ghostwriters will additionally undertake a last edit and proofread before receiving project completion permission.

Who owns the copyright and receives credit for the project's completion?

Because the ghostwriter is paid to write anonymously for the person or corporation that hired them, the writing and project are owned by the person doing the hiring, which means they also own the copyright. Copyright law specifies that a work is protected as soon as it is produced; yet, most authors will include language in their contract indicating that the copyright reverts to the owner only once the agreed-upon amount is paid in full. Once the project has been accepted and the scope of work has been completed, the copyright might be contested until full payment is received.

Is it ethical or legal to hire a ghostwriter and claim the work as mine?

Ghostwriting is lawful, and it has been a generally acknowledged technique throughout history. When you employ a ghostwriter, you are paying them to perform a service. They agree to write anonymously in exchange for payment and credit for their work. Ghostwriting services are used by more famous celebrities, presidents, sports figures, and individuals from all walks of life, as well as companies, than you may imagine.
Is it, however, ethical? Many people believe ghostwriting to be unethical or even plagiarism, yet there is a big grey area that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Is it immoral if the ghostwriter gave complete approval to renounce their rights and credit to the work, or if the person claiming the work is theirs wasn't the writer but was substantially engaged in bringing the project to completion? A ghostwritten project is a team effort between the ghostwriter and the person ordering the job. The first contributes ideas and input, while the second utilizes those ideas and input to build the final result. Ghostwriting is a popular practice and an honest service, and each individual must determine for themselves if it is acceptable to claim ghostwritten work as their own.

Will I have problems if the ghostwriter steals my concept or my writing?

If you don't have a strong agreement in place, you may. According to copyright law, a written work is protected as soon as it is produced and does not need to be registered to be protected.

What if I am dissatisfied with the ghostwriter's work after they have completed the project?

Determine why you don't like the final product, discuss it with the ghostwriter, and offer them the chance to rectify the problems. Addressing rewrites within the contract is critical, and remedies to anticipated difficulties should be detailed. However, unless otherwise mentioned in the original contract, if you find that the project just did not work out, the writer is allowed to retain the advance pay to cover their committed time. The writer's fee may potentially be reduced to an hourly rate for the finished task.

Will the ghostwriter assist me with publishing and marketing my book or project?

As part of the project scope, independent ghostwriters will assist you with interviewing, research, writing, and editing. If you are self-publishing a book, you will be responsible for all layout and design, printing, marketing, and distribution. Some may have connections with agents or editors in the conventional publishing areas that they may share with you, but this is entirely up to you. This includes ghostwritten books, business materials, blogs, articles, and other forms of media.

If you purchase your ghostwriter services from a ghostwriting firm, the services they provide are diverse. Many will merely give ghostwriting and all the necessary parts to finish the text, but others will provide a whole project or book-in-a-box experience. If you need a comprehensive range of services, including the conversion of a manuscript into a hardcopy book or printed document, you should look at Scribe's book publishing services, The Ghost Publishing, or Premium Ghostwriters.

Writing, regardless of the objective, may be a difficult effort. Not everyone has the talents and capacity to take raw thoughts, write them down, and see them through to completion. Hiring a ghostwriter may be the key to converting your ideas and expertise into a published reality for anybody who wants to become an author of a book, novel, screenplay, essay, or other sorts of material.


As with most things in business, the key to a successful partnership, or at least a successful conflict settlement, is to agree on robust contract conditions from the start. If anything goes wrong, but the contract is sound, both parties should be able to walk away reasonably undamaged, even if they are both wounded and grateful it is all over. Below is a basic template you can use as a starting point. 


Effective Date:                                    , 2015.

 _____________________________________________________, (the “Author”)
 __________________________________________________, (the “Ghostwriter”)

1.      SERVICES:  Author hereby retains Ghostwriter to perform writing services by submitting articles to Author from time to time (the “Services”) on the terms and conditions set out below. Literary materials and all other products of the Services are referred to collectively in this Agreement as the “Work”.

2.      USE OF WORK:  Author may, in his sole discretion, use or not use the Work or any part thereof, and may make any changes in, deletions from or additions to the Work. There is no guarantee, either written or implied, regarding publication of the Work.

3.      PERFORMANCE STANDARD:  All of the Services shall be rendered promptly, professionally and efficiently and in accordance with the instructions of Author.   

4.      CONSIDERATION: Ghostwriter shall receive a lump sum payment for each article accepted by Author. The exact amount to be paid for each article shall be negotiated via email, phone or other means. Ghostwriter will not receive any royalties. All payments and income of whatever kind and from whatever source resulting from the Work shall belong exclusively to the Author.


(a)    Ghostwriter warrants and represents that:
(i)     None of the Work shall be plagiarized.  All of the Work shall be wholly original, except as to matters within the public domain and except as to material inserted by Ghostwriter pursuant to specific instructions provided by Author;
(ii)   None of the Work shall infringe upon or violate the rights of privacy or publicity of, or constitute defamation against, or violate any common law or any other rights of, any person, firm or corporation;
(iii) That there is no conflict of interest as in the Ghostwriter’s other contracts with the Services to be provided pursuant to this Agreement. The Ghostwriter will ensure that no such conflict arises during the term of this Agreement.

(b)   Ghostwriter undertakes and agrees to indemnify Author from all liabilities and claims arising out of any breach of Ghostwriter’s warranties and representations. This indemnification shall apply only to materials created or furnished by Ghostwriter, and shall not extend to changes or additions made therein or thereto by Author or by other writers hired by Author.

(c)    Author undertakes and agrees to indemnify Ghostwriter from all liabilities and claims arising out of any material supplied by Author for incorporation into the Work.

(d)   A party receiving notice of any claim or action subject to indemnity hereunder shall promptly notify the other party. 

6.      OWNERSHIP OF THE WORK:  Ghostwriter hereby assigns to Author the sole and exclusive ownership throughout the world and in perpetuity of all rights, title and interest of every kind and nature (including without limitation copyright and the right to create derivative works based on the Work) in the Work, and waives his or her moral rights in and to the Work. The Ghostwriter’s name will not appear as author or co-author on any article or book that incorporates any Work. The Work shall be considered “work made for hire” under the United States Copyright Act, to the greatest extent permitted by law. To the extent that the Work is not properly characterized as “work made for hire,” then Ghostwriter hereby irrevocably grants to Author all right, title, and interest in and to the Work (including but not limited to copyright herein), and any and all ideas and information embodied therein, in perpetuity and throughout the world.

7.      CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION: Ghostwriter acknowledges and agrees that all information related to the Services and Work, including without limitation, all content, writings, work product, notes and diagrams (“Confidential Information”), is of great value to Author. Accordingly, Ghostwriter agrees not to divulge to anyone, either during or after the term of this Agreement, any Confidential Information obtained or developed by Ghostwriter while performing the Services. Upon expiration or termination of this Agreement, Ghostwriter agrees to deliver to Author all documents, papers, drawings, tabulations, reports, audio tapes, video tapes and similar documentation and recording devices which are furnished to or produced by Ghostwriter pursuant to this Agreement. Upon the expiration or termination of this Agreement, Ghostwriter agrees to make no further use of any Confidential Information. Ghostwriter may only disclose Confidential Information to third parties upon the express written consent of Author. The provisions of this Section shall survive the expiration or termination of this Agreement.

8.      RELATIONSHIP OF THE PARTIES: The parties are independent contractors and nothing in this Agreement shall form a partnership, joint venture, employer-employee or similar relationship. It is understood by the parties that this contract is not exclusive and Ghostwriter may perform similar writing services for others.

9.      TERM AND TERMINATION: This Agreement commences on the Effective Date and continues in force for two years thereafter. The Agreement may be terminated at any time by either party, provided however that the termination shall not extinguish any obligations undertaken prior to the termination.

10.  ARBITRATION: Any dispute arising from this Agreement shall be submitted to binding and confidential arbitration under the rules of the American Arbitration Association in the State of ________________, and any award issued in such arbitration may be entered and enforced as a judgment in any court of competent jurisdiction. The prevailing party in any such arbitration shall be entitled to recover attorneys’ fees and costs.

11.  ASSIGNMENT:  This Agreement is not assignable by Ghostwriter.  Author may assign this Agreement, in whole or in part, to any party provided that such party assumes and agrees in writing to keep and perform all obligations of Author hereunder. 

12.  BINDING EFFECT:  This Agreement shall enure to the benefit of and be binding on the Ghostwriter’s heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns, and on the Author’s successors, assigns, licensees and grantees. 


By: _____________________________

Name/Title: _______________________



By: _________________________________

Name/Title: ___________________________

Date: ________________________________