You may find it hard, even impossible, to sift through all the ghostwriters on the internet. Here are some steps you can take to get a solid list of writers that will be the best candidates for your project.

Scammers. Unfortunately, scammers are always a concern and we must always be on the lookout for them. If you are hiring a writer on a platform such as Upwork and they immediately want to work outside of the system, they are likely scammers. Their goal is to get you to pay them so they can disappear with your money. Also, plagiarism is a big problem on these platforms. If you can’t afford fancy plagiarism detection software load samples of the writing into Google. There is a good chance that plagiarized work will appear in the search results. Try and stay educated on online scams. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Your rights. You own the rights to your book. An established writer will have a contract that specifies all the details of content ownership, disclosure, deliverables, payment, etc. You are never obligated to share credit or royalties with a ghostwriter.

Payment. Never pay the full amount upfront. Ghostwriting is traditionally done in installments. After an initial deposit you will make payments based on milestones reached. The contract should spell out the process for moving forward, or termination. You and the writer should always know what to expect.

Who’s the boss? Ghostwriting should be a collaborative effort to a greater or lesser degree. This should also be spelled out upfront. Make sure you and the writer both know how much instruction they will be given. If you need a written piece that fills a few specific requirements and plan to give the writer great freedom with the content make sure that is clear going in. If you want to have a high degree of input and work over the writer’s shoulder, so to speak, and see their work daily, make sure that is clear too. While you should have final say on all content, your level of expected input needs to be spelled out upfront.

Confidentiality. A ghostwriter should be willing to sign an agreement of confidentiality. This means telling no one, taking no credit, and expecting no additional money. Of course, there can be many exceptions to this agreement but they need to be explicitly spelled out. Even if your ghostwriter writes the next Harry Potter for you, they must abide by the agreement, although if that were the case you may want to keep them happy in some reasonable way.

Are they right for you? Above all you have to ask, is this the best ghostwriter for me? Make sure you can communicate with the writer comfortably. Make sure they can write what’s needed and they can meet a deadline. This is where it might be wise to pay the writer a small sum to produce a small bit of work for you. This way you can better gauge how you work together and what they produce based on what you provide them.