Become a Ghost-writer

Learn how to write books for others, win projects and make money

This online self-study course is appropriate for professional, experienced writers. Be sure to read Roz's post on becoming a ghostwriter to gain a better understanding of what a ghostwriter does and the required qualifications.


Become a Ghostwriter by Roz MorrisMany of the books that you see on the bestseller charts and the bookshop shelves are concealing a big secret. They weren’t written by the person whose name is on the cover. They were the work of ghost-writers—professional authors for hire. These authors will never be seen or acknowledged, but they are earning good money and are an essential part of the publishing ecosystem. 

Why would you write a book you can never take the credit for?

  • You get saleable book ideas
  • You’re paid up front, and if a publisher is involved the advances are usually good
  • You have no marketing responsibilities—unless you want them
  • You work in a team—the client and maybe a literary agent or publisher
  • Research is much quicker, so you can produce books more swiftly
  • You can broaden your writing horizons and repertoire—slip into another person’s world, voice and style
  • You can make valuable contacts in the publishing industry for projects of your own 

In this course you'll learn:

  • how the ghost-writing world works
  • how writers get started
  • how your professional and personal contacts might be a fruitful source of ghost-writing commissions
  • how to pitch successfully to a ghost-writing client, literary agent or publisher
  • what to ask for in a fair publishing arrangement and what price to charge
  • how to collaborate and do justice to the client
  • how to keep control of a project so that it finishes on time
  • how to avoid projects that are too risky.

You won’t have to:

  • wonder how much work to do on spec
  • hesitate about discussing money or other terms
  • work with time-wasters
  • get derailed by common collaborating pitfalls
  • find yourself shackled to a book that puts excessive demands on you or is never finished.

Is this course for you?

It's not for beginners! This course isn’t writing advice, although it will cover points that are specific to this discipline. To ghost-write you must be thoroughly established in your craft and preferably able to build a portfolio to demonstrate this. You should be one of the following:

  • a writer of fiction or nonfiction who has published books to professional standard (indie or traditionally)
  • a professional in another branch of writing—copywriting, journalism, translation, scripts, drama
  • a book editor who wishes to cross over into writing

You should also be:

  • business minded
  • able to meet deadlines
  • versatile
  • eager for new writing challenges

Do any of these sound like you? Ghost-writing could be a worthwhile career move. And if you’re a fiction writer, there are just as many opportunities as there are for writers of memoir or instruction manuals. (Many people are surprised to hear that.)

Roz MorrisAbout the Instructor

Roz Morris is an author, editor, writing coach and ghost-writer. She's sold more than 4 million copies of books written as other people. You'll definitely have seen them in the charts and in bookstores. You might have some of them on your shelves. Nobody knows they were nurtured on her hard drive, but they’ve helped her fund her own writing, introduced her to useful and remarkable people—and built up to a satisfying stack of widely-read work. 

Morris teaches writing masterclasses for The Guardian newspaper in London and is a prolific blogger on writing craft, writing productivity and the publishing world (Nail Your Novel). A lot of authors seek her advice about ghost-writing work, which is why she created this course. She's taking the mask off as much as she dares—to help you make ghost-writing a viable career.

Our students love Roz’s courses, her teaching methodology and her energy. Attendees are always challenged by the content and inspired by her delivery.

Matt Buttell and Emma Cummins, The Guardian Masterclasses

I decided to seek private coaching as I took my first steps in ghostwriting. Although I'm not new to writing or publishing, ghostwriting was all new to me, and Roz's breadth of knowledge and astute coaching style left me feeling empowered and informed. I regularly recommend her to writers, regardless of how long they've been in the game.

Libby O'Loghlin, Co-founder and Editor, The Woolf Literary Quarterly

Roz has the ability to get to the heart of what I was trying to convey ... as if she was inside my head and knew what I was attempting to put across. A rare gift.

Ghost-writing client (who must remain anonymous!)

What's included in the course:

  • 2 hours of video instruction, with downloadable audio files if you prefer to listen to lectures on a digital device (e.g., while commuting)
  • Worksheets of tasks to help you find ghost-writing opportunities, assess your skills, plan your continuing professional education—presented on printable PDF or a Word document you can fill in electronically
  • Printable PDF crib sheet for the essentials to cover in your initial discussions with a prospective ghost-writing client
  • A voice profiler tool to capture your client's distinctive style so the book sounds like it was written by them
  • A quick reference guide to the entire course for handy revision, including terms for a collaboration deal

Technology Platforms Used for This Course

  • This course is conducted entirely online, so you'll need a reliable internet connection.
  • Course materials, lectures, and assignments will be available to view and download through a private course site hosted by Jane Friedman. 
  • Video lectures are available for streaming; audio version of the lectures (mp3) are available for download.
Example of video lecture—click to enlarge
Example of what the course site looks like—click to enlarge

Course Lessons

It's easy to find writing advice. But it's not easy to get good guidance about how to ghost-write, what's expected of a ghost-writer and how to avoid the inevitable hazards. It's one of the most frequent reasons that writers contact the instructor, Roz Morris, for personal consultations. Maybe you want to break into this kind of work. Or you've been offered your first collaboration and aren’t sure how to handle the client or what to charge. Or you're already involved in a project and it’s not going well.

Roz has had good and bad ghost-writing experiences. She's made good and bad decisions—and had some great adventures. She's learned the effective ways to pitch for books, weigh up whether a project is worth the time and how to work with clients and publishing folk. Above all, she's learned how to give her best while protecting her energy. In this course, she'll share her secrets with you in the following lessons.

  1. Understand the ghost-writing world: glamour and fame!
  2. Understand the ghost-writing world: bread-and-butter work and your first project
  3. Understand what the client needs: general principles
  4. How much to do on spec and when to discuss money
  5. How to be a good surrogate: writing a book that isn’t yours
  6. You are the pilot: landing the book on time
  7. Wobbly moments: take them in your stride
  8. Warning signs: learn when to say no
  9. Talk terms with confidence: what goes in a collaboration deal
  10. Money: what should you be paid?
  11. Welcome to your new secret identity! Tasks to do now and FAQs

Most lectures are brief, 14 minutes max. If you have questions about the course or its content, leave a comment below or email us.

Your ghostwriting course is amazing. It's packed full of practical and useful information. You are helping me and encouraging me so much. Thank you!

Peter DeHaan

I REALLY enjoyed the class. You took the time to teach us so much. Ghostwriting is no longer this mysterious area of writing—it is now a niche that I feel is within my scope. Thanks.

Deb Curtis

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