You have the idea. I have the words. . .
. . . and the time. And the passion. And the expertise.
Maybe it’s your memoir. Maybe it’s a fascinating story you stumbled across. Maybe it’s a great yarn you’ve had rolling around in your head for years, or a lifetime’s worth of thoughts and experience you want to share. You just don’t know where to start, how to structure it, or how to turn it into a full manuscript.
I do. I started writing professionally when I was 14 years old. In more than three decades since then, I’ve written books for three of the five largest publishing houses in America (Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and Hachette), and articles for six of the country’s fifteen largest newspapers (The Boston Globe, The Newark Star-Ledger, The New York Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post). I’m also the only author to have won the Shamus, Nero, and Lefty Awards, three of crime fiction’s most prestigious prizes.
In short, I know my way around a keyboard. If you’d like to learn more, click “bio” at the top of the page, or just Google “Brad Parks.” (It’s amazing the stuff Wikipedia knows about me).
Two, I ghostwrite because I genuinely enjoy it. I love meeting people, hearing their stories, and bringing those narratives to the page. I have a shelf in my home where I keep all the books I’ve written—whether they have my name on them or not. I will treat your story with the same attention, devotion, and focus as I treat my own.
If I don’t feel I can bring that kind of energy and commitment to your project? I won’t take you on as a client.
But enough about me. This is about you—your book, your voice, your vision. I look forward to hearing from you so we can create something great together.
Some questions you may be having. . .
How do we start?
It’s pretty easy. First you email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what you have in mind. We’ll probably have a few conversations to figure out if we’re a good match for each other. Once we both feel comfortable, we’ll sign a contract (more on that below).
Then the real work begins. We’ll need to talk a fair amount before I begin writing—ideally in person, if we can make our schedules match. Depending on the project, I may create an outline before I begin writing, so we can agree where this whole thing is going. From there, we’ll maintain a regular dialogue as the drafting continues. This is a fun, collaborative process, and you’ll be involved at whatever level you like—whether that’s a lot or a little.
What will this cost?
Rates start at $1 a word. And, really, that’s where they stay. I only charge more for corporate clients—because they’re inevitably more complicated—or if a book requires an unusual amount of research.
A typical novel-length manuscript is anywhere from 70,000-90,000 words (between 280 to 360 pages, figuring on 250 words per typewritten page). I’ll also invoice you for any travel that we agree is necessary to complete the project.
I’m more expensive than other ghostwriters or ghostwriting services you may find on the internet, some of whom hook you with one person’s resume, then outsource the work to some other writer. I don’t. You’re paying for an accomplished, award-winning author, and that’s what you’ll get. We will agree upon length, compensation, and delivery dates before I type a word.
How does this work, legally?
The contract we’ll sign is a work-for-hire agreement, which means you own the copyright free and clear. What you do with it from there is entirely up to you.
Some folks can be a little queasy about the whole idea of ghostwriting, because in school they were always told they had to do their own work. You’re not in school anymore. Hiring someone to write a book for you is no different—legally, morally, or ethically—from hiring someone to do your taxes or cut your hair. Sure, you could do it yourself. But it requires a lot of specialized knowledge and skills you may not have developed. Chances are the result will be a lot better if you hire an expert.
Many of the books you pick up in the bookstore, particularly those written by celebrities and/or people who have distinguished themselves in areas other than writing, have ghostwriters behind them. Sometimes the ghostwriter is credited, sometimes not. The important thing to remember is: It’s your idea, your story. It wouldn’t exist without you. I’m just the guy putting the words on the page.
Also, we’ll sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of our contract. This ghostwriting thing is just between us, okay?
Will this get published?
That’s certainly possible. I will be happy to advise you on the publishing process, including finding an agent for and/or pitching to publishers. (For a brief primer on this topic, click here.) But this part will ultimately be your responsibility and there are no guarantees when it comes to the publishing industry.
Let me repeat that, because I want it to be clear from the outset: No one can promise you a book will get published. All I can promise is that the book will be of publishable quality; and that when you send it to agents and editors, they will immediately recognize the writing as coherent, clean, and professional.
Will you make money off this?
Again, let me be straight with you: You might, but you might not. As an author, I’ve signed multiple six-figure publishing contracts. I’ve also signed four- and five-figure contracts. And I can tell you which is more common in the industry.
Whatever money you’d make would be yours to keep, of course—whether the book becomes a runaway bestseller or stays on a shelf somewhere. Truly, anything is possible. But please bear in mind that people who are looking at publishing as a get-rich-quick scheme would be advised to try something safer and more dependable. Like selling their vital organs on eBay.
What about getting this made as a movie or television series?
Part of our contract explicitly states that you retain film/entertainment rights, along with all other potential adaptations of the work. And any Hollywood person will tell you an idea has a better chance of being bought/made if there’s a book to back it up. My own work has been optioned for television, but it hasn’t been made. (At least not yet—fingers crossed!). That said, I’m not an authority on this subject. If this is really what interests you, it may make sense to chat with a film agent, a producer, or someone with deep contacts in the industry.
Can you see something I’ve ghostwritten?
Nope. Sorry. I’m serious about that non-disclosure agreement I sign. But you can certainly read the work I’ve published under my own name. It’s available wherever books are sold.
Have you written things other than mysteries and thrillers?
Absolutely. And, if anything, I relish the opportunity to do so—because it’s a break from what I do the rest of the year.
One of the skills I developed as a journalist was the ability to parachute into any situation or subject matter and come out with a compelling story. I was a sportswriter, an investigative reporter, a feature writer, and also the guy they threw at whatever news happened to be breaking. I enjoy learning about new things, and I’ve found the elements of great storytelling cross all genres.
How do we get started again?
Email email@example.com. I’ll be pleased to meet you.
—Stephen Lynch, editor-in-chief, The New York Post
“Brad Parks does exactly what a ghost writer is supposed to do: He captures the tone, the voice, the brand, and the essence of a project without drawing attention to himself. I hired Brad to ghost write several books at Disney Publishing. He is creative, collaborative, and a problem-solver. Brad delivered each book on time and always plussed the ideas, assignments, and notes given to him. I will always consider Brad my go-to ghost writer for mysteries and thrillers.”
—Laura Hopper, Executive Editor, Disney Publishing Worldwide/Kingswell