This is why, when I was ghostwriting, I spent time with a prospective client before starting a project, getting to know the project and getting enough material from the client to produce an initial sample of work. (This was only after I was sure the client understand my rates and was comfortable paying them if he or she decided to move forward.) Yes, this was a big investment on my part, but it did some things:
- It helped the client know if he enjoyed working with me.
- It helped the client have confidence in my ability to write in the style he was looking for. (Keep in mind you usually can't show past samples as a ghostwriter unless you've gotten permission or you've written some generic samples.)
- It showed my confidence about my ability to write -- I was willing to risk the time because I felt confident about getting the job once my work was seen.
- It helped ME know if I could enjoy working with this client. A ghostwriter doesn't always have the luxury of NOT taking a job, but should know how nice or painful the process will be before committing.
- It created a sense of reciprocity -- I was giving an enormous amount of myself without any risk to the prospective client. There was no cost or obligation for this custom sample process. BUT ... human nature generally feels an obligation to reciprocate when someone does something for us. So if there was a pretty good personality match and the client enjoyed the sample, it was pretty likely I'd be hired over anyone who just provided a quote or generic sample.
I mention this because if a book is going to take 3-6 months of writing, neither side wants to be caught in something that ends up being miserable for them. And so, while this isn't a necessary approach, I would encourage both ghostwriters and ghostwriting clients to consider this kind of brief dating process before committing to something long term. In my experience, it was time well spent.