What is a Ghostwriting Contract and Why Do I Need One?


Many of my clients at Wordshaker have asked about contracts and agreements between themselves as authors of their texts and the ghostwriters who work with and for them. Typical questions have been:

·      ‘What exactly is an agreement or a contract?’

·      ‘Why do I need one?’

·      ‘What happens if I don’t have one.’

So, let’s try and answer these questions…

A ghostwriting agreement or contract as it is sometimes called, outlines the contractual terms between the ghostwriter and the client for whom he or she is writing.

A ghostwriter can work on a variety of projects, from writing tweets, blogs, speeches and essays to entire books. However, a ghostwriter’s participation in the project is usually kept confidential and a ghostwriter does not expect to get any public credit for working on the project. When a ghostwriter decides to work on a project it’s important that he/she outlines the parameters of the work, compensation, and deadlines in a written agreement signed by both the ghostwriter and the client. The written agreement is legally enforceable and protects both the ghostwriter and the client should conflicts arise. Not having a contract or agreement can result in a host of legal problems for both parties if either of them come across issues or problems that they cannot reasonably solve.

Here is an example of the agreement used by Wordshaker:

This agreement ("Agreement") is between {Name}, henceforth referred to as "Author," and Sandra Cain of Wordshaker, henceforth referred to as "Ghostwriter," and is executed this {date} day of {month}{year}.

Author and Ghostwriter are entering into this Agreement for the purposes of completing {description of book and/or other publication covered under this Agreement, including working title and estimated length}, herein referred to as the "Work." As such, Author and Ghostwriter agree to the following provisions:

Method. In order to accomplish the Work, Ghostwriter will {description of how Author and Ghostwriter intend to work together, including any mandatory meetings, times Ghostwriter is expected to work, etc.}.

Plagiarism . Ghostwriter agrees that all Work created for Author is {his/her} own unique work, and does not borrow from any other copyrighted work.

Deadline. Ghostwriter will have {amount} of the Work done by {deadline date}. {include additional deadlines here, and explain if Author will have access to the Work at any point during the writing process}.

Payment. Payment for the Work will be delivered according to the following schedule: {outline the payment plan. Is Ghostwriter getting an advance, money at the halfway point, etc.?}.

Royalties. Ghostwriter will not be entitled to any royalties, residuals, or commissions upon the sale of the work. Total payment for Ghostwriter is {amount in dollars/pounds sterling}, payable according to the terms listed above.

Copyrights. Author will own the Work, including any copyrights and sale or distribution rights.

Credit. Credit for the Work will {indicate if Author will be the only credit on the book, or if there will be an "as told to" or "with" credit for Ghostwriter}.

Confidentiality. Ghostwriter acknowledges that {he/she} will have access to certain privileged information during the course of this project. Ghostwriter agrees to keep all information confidential from any and all third parties, during and after the course of this project.

Termination. Author {will/will not} have the right to terminate this Agreement at any point. Should Author terminate the Ghostwriter's services, Author will be required to pay Ghostwriter for completed work, according to the provisions outlined in the "Payment" section of this Agreement. Similarly, Ghostwriter {will/will not} have the right to end this Agreement at any point. {Outline any further details about this clause, including perhaps the amount of Work Ghostwriter must complete to avoid any legal recourse} .

Author and Ghostwriter agree to the above terms, and undersign here to that effect.