When you’re a ghostwriter, the first call with a prospective client is important. You need to vet them and also give them a chance to vet you. It’s no good if they decide they want to work with you and then they find out you’re not a good fit. A discovery call is the first short phone or video conference call between a ghostwriter and a prospective client. The point of this call is to learn how the client’s business works, what they sell, who their target audience is, and their writing needs. If you’re interested in working with this prospect, it’s also your opportunity to get some questions answered so you can decide if they’re a good fit for you.

The questions you ask during a discovery call are going to vary depending on the type of writing you do, but there are some general questions that will put you (the ghostwriter) at ease, help you figure out if you want to work with this person, and also help you prepare for an eventual client agreement. If you’ve never worked as a ghostwriter before, you might wonder what types of questions a ghostwriter should ask prospective clients during a ghostwriting discovery call.

These 20 questions a ghostwriter should ask prospective clients during their discovery call are ones I have used and found helpful.

  1. What is your book about? This may seem like an obvious question, but you’d be surprised how many people have trouble describing what they want to write their book about.
  2. Have you written anything? If yes, how much have you written and are you willing to share it with me?
  3. Do you have research materials or sources? Are you also willing to share these?
  4. Who is your target audience?
  5. What message do you want to pass across to your target audience with this book?
  6. What would you like to tell me about yourself and why you’re interested in writing a book?
  7. Why do you want to hire a ghostwriter?
  8. What’s your book’s title and subtitle?
  9. What’s your goal for writing this book?
  10. Do you intend to publish it? If yes, how do you intend to publish it (traditional publisher, self-published)? Do you have a timeline for getting it done?
  11. What is the scope of your book, and what will it entail?
  12. How many pages or words do you need written? Do you need help with creating an outline or just with writing the copy? 
  13. Is it a one-off project or an ongoing one?
  14. How much time do you have to get this project completed? What’s your deadline for having all the content written or edited?
  15. What are some other books similar to what you have in mind?
  16. What’s your budget for this project?
  17. How do you want the communication to be? Do you want a hands-on or hands-off approach?
  18. Will I be interviewing anyone else on your team or should I stick with just you as my source of information and ideas?
  19. What are your expectations of me for this project?
  20. Are you willing to sign a contract that will guide our working together?

Please note that ghostwriting does not involve writing just books for clients. You could create social media content or write blog posts, too. Therefore, the kinds of questions you ask should apply to the work you do. The discovery call is a conversation you need to have with each of your prospective clients before you work with them. The questions above are not exhaustive and there is no limit to the questions you should ask a client. 

It is also important for you to take notes during the call or record the whole call. However, make sure you inform the client before doing so.

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