As with any business partnership, it is important to have a contract with your ghostwriter before you start working together on your literary project. This literary rights agreement should have a few main components in order to meet the needs of both parties and to ensure protection for both sides involved.

When working with a freelancer or ghostwriting company, it is important to consider confidentiality. You will want to include a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in your contract. This will ensure that the ghostwriter will not be taking public credit for the work or disclosing to anyone that they were involved in the production of this specific piece of writing. For instance, they cannot claim the work on a résumé.

Your contract should also include the obligations of you and the ghostwriter. This will set forth a standard that is expected to be met by both of you. This could include how many times you will meet, specific deadlines and guidelines for the project.

Having a schedule built into the contract will prove to be quite helpful. You can set forth the expected delivery dates and deadlines to receive work from the ghostwriter. The ghostwriter can also include a payment schedule so that everyone understands ahead of time when payment will be due.

A rewrite clause can be included to establish how many times the ghostwriter legally must rewrite the book for you. Rewrites beyond that number will have to be agreed upon separately from that point. You may also want to include a note about whether or not you, the author, will have an opportunity to review the finished product.

As with any business agreement, it is important to set a plan for unforeseen events or unsatisfactory work. Creating a termination and breach of contract clause will provide a contingency plan. What happens if you, the author, decides you no longer need the help of a ghostwriter? What happens if the ghostwriter gets into an accident and can no longer fulfill her obligations as a writer? Will the work be transferred to one of the ghostwriter’s colleagues? Will you be partially refunded? Will all of the notes, recordings and works be surrendered to you? Answer these questions before you begin the project, and outline them in the contract.

One of the most important aspects to work out with your ghostwriter is ownership and attribution. Who will own the final manuscript? Will you take 100% ownership or share it in part with the ghostwriter? How will the work be credited? Decide whether you want only your name in the byline or if you would like to give the ghostwriter joint credit (this option will usually cost less, too).

Just as our forefathers gave future leaders the opportunity to make changes (amendments) to the U.S. Constitution, you should include a modification of agreement clause in your contract. This will give you both the right to agree upon and make changes to your contract after the fact as you both see fit.

Include the contact information of both parties, and then make it official with both of your signatures and the date. Feel free to celebrate your new partnership however you want. A handshake? Fistbump? Drinks? Matching tattoos? Ok, maybe not that last one, but get ready for a smooth and rewarding experience!

About the author

Rachel Rachel Brownlow is founder and CEO of Your Written Word LLC, a ghostwriting company that helps successful and aspiring business leaders take their ideas from conception to publication. She has written, edited, proofread, consulted and/or created publishing proposals for more than a dozen nonfiction books. She also contributes to a variety of magazines and publications, including the Austin Business Journal, Austin Monthly, NSIDE Magazine and Georgetown View Magazine. You can find more of her work at