Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Mechanics of a Ghostwriting Contract


All of your rights to a manuscript or any ghostwritten work are automatically taken away the minute you start working on it.  All copyright is handed over to the client or author to do with as they please.  

Each contract you agree to as a ghostwriter will always have this stipulated that the copyright work is for the author/client, making this the most important part of the contract.  

All needs are carried out whether it be for writing a book, social media post, screenplay or any other literary work, all services are rendered.

Not All Contracts are the Same

Writing jobs can differ just like writing contracts, and ghostwriting contracts are no different.  Some may feel like you're writing a top secret document, and be highly confidential, this is all determined on the terms of the contract in hand.  

This will state the tasks performed by the writer and client, and will include:

  • Date of deadline
  • Terms of payment, specific delivery times
  • Number of revisions
  • The extent of the project with the number of words or pages
  • Number of rewrites
  • The confidentiality agreement 


Like all projects the ghostwriter is expected to deliver each phase of the manuscript by a certain deadline, this all has to be done before starting the next stage.

The Contract

The contract, from the outside looks like a list of legal jargon that can look like every writer's worst nightmare.  Leaving the ghostwriter feeling panicky and despondent.

While many contracts might look stringent it's always worth taking time to look over everything for peace of mind, taking the opportunity to question anything you don't understand.  Even better would be to ask a lawyer to read over the legal lingo. 

The Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)

Alongside your ghostwriting contract you may be handed an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). 

So What is a Non-Disclosure Agreement?

According to Wikipedia - A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also known as a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), proprietary agreement (PA) or secrecy agreement (SA) or 'non-disparagement agreement' is a legal contract or part of a contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge or information that the parties wish to share with another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to.

It is a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose any information covered by the agreement.

Also Included in the NDA

The NDA may also incorporate terms for mediation if the need is justified.  NDA's have become an important part of the publishing process, and something you should embrace, and not be afraid of.

Tips to Consider in a Ghostwriting Contract

  • Always get it in writing, stating all terms clearly and who is responsible for each item.
  • Always list everything you're willing to do to deliver a first draft of a book.
  • Have details of the payment planned clearly explained.
  • Never write a manuscript you guess is going to sell, and then receive no money for it.  Remember you're in the business of writing, and not doing it for free.
  • Include an escape clause should the case arise when you or the author may become unhappy, which makes it easier to terminate the project.
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