Free Ghostwriting Agreement Template

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Ghostwriting Agreement Template
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What is a ghostwriting contract?

A ghostwriting contract is a written agreement between a writer and their client for ghosting writing services. It's typically a contract for a freelancer-client working relationship rather than an employee-employer relationship.

Ghostwriting contracts are usually project-based, for example, writing a novel can be the whole project scope. This will depend on your client, so unless they're a public figure who needs consistent ghostwriting services, the details you include in your contract should be based on each project.

Note: If you're ready to get stuck into your free ghostwriting agreement template from Bonsai, you can sign-up now.

Why you need a ghostwriting agreement

In a legally binding ghostwriting agreement, the ghostwriter acknowledges that they'll be writing for someone else and will likely receive no credit for their work—other than in the form of financial compensation.

You need a ghostwriting agreement to get everyone on the same page with the project’s expectations and to ensure the ghostwriter gets paid. When you start your working relationship with the formality of a ghostwriter contract, both parties can relax into the agreement knowing there's nothing left unsaid.

Writer agreements, in general, need certain clauses to ensure they're legally binding—all of which we've included in this article.

What should be included in a ghostwriting contract template

Every ghostwriting agreement template needs the clauses we've listed below. From how and when the client agrees to pay ghostwriter fees, to what happens in the case of major revisions. Whether you're writing your own or editing a Bonsai template, make sure you twist and tweak these clauses to fit future work proposals.

Named parties

Start your professional writer agreement off by naming all parties involved. Name yourself as the freelance writer, your client, and any other party deemed integral to this freelance writing contract.

For example, perhaps your client is hiring you to ghostwrite for someone else.

Detailed description of the project

Next up, you’ll need to go into detail about the project and what services you’re offering. If this is an ongoing agreement, then it’s a good idea to detail these services as much as possible.

If this hire agreement is for a specific project, for example, writing a blog article, or a book, then outline everything that’s expected of the writer here. This is otherwise known as the scope of work.

Outlined deliverables

Here, you’ll want to agree to, and list out the deliverables for, the finished product. For example, if the detailed description of the project includes social media caption writing, the deliverable for this would be a specific number of social media captions and a certain number of potential revisions. Perhaps a technical writer contract template requires you to prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents. Whatever it is, it should be outlined.

Schedule and timeline of deliverables

We all know that great writing takes time. However, here the ghostwriter and client will need to agree on a certain deadline for the project. This will help you and the client to manage workload and expectations.

Plus, there may be other steps the client needs to take that rely on the ghostwriter's words. For example, a graphic designer or illustrator may need to pick up the project next.

Payment details

We can all agree that this is the clause most eyes are drawn to whenever a contract is on the table. Writing an invoice as a freelancer is hard work, you have to consider:

  • Payment terms
  • Due date expectations
  • Details on royalties
  • Payment of expenses

Be sure to include other factors that are relevant to your situation too. Document everything here so it’s clear to both parties.


Copyright terms and the right to create derivative works are crucial for a ghostwriting agreement.

Essentially, the ghostwriter will need to agree that once their work is released, they cannot claim it is theirs. It's similar to a non-disclosure agreement. The client is—in most cases— the sole owner of the content created.


As is often the case with any content work, there needs to be a certain amount of revisions in the scope of the project.

Writers will often give one round of free revisions to a client.. This will depend on what you’re comfortable with—just make sure you state the amount of free revisions or edits. At this point, you should also make clear how much you’ll charge for every additional edit or revision after the freebie.


Clients need more than an oral agreement to be assured they have your confidentiality. Ensure your ghostwriter agreement includes a clause stating you will not claim that you wrote the content which the client is publishing under their name—or someone else's.

Permissions clause

A permissions clause is the only exception you'll be granted to showcase your work in your digital portfolio.

Admittedly, as a ghostwriter, getting a yes from your client on this one is rare. However, it's worth a try—just make sure to highlight it to your client when you send the contract over.

Termination of contract

We're not talking about the contract drawing to an end here because the work is done.

Termination happens when there is a breach of contract or there’s gross misconduct from either party. It's a shame that it happens, but it does, and your termination clause should explain the process and conditions for both parties when terminating.

Other factors

Lastly, are there any tools or permissions the writer needs to get the job done? Are there any third parties that need to be listed for the project to be duly executed? If so, list these details in your final clause.

What's the benefit of using Bonsai instead of editing a template yourself?

All of Bonsai's contracts have been reviewed by experts. That means they're legally verified and tailored to your business niche. They save you:

  • Time
  • Worry
  • Resources

And knowing that most of the heavy lifting is already done, you can focus on doing what you love instead.

How to create a ghostwriting contract template with Bonsai

Creating and editing a contract in Bonsai is done in a few easy steps. All you need to do is:

  1. Sign up for the tool
  2. Go to the type of contract you want, or build your own from scratch
  3. Edit the template with the details specific to your project

You'll be able to manage, edit, and assign all of your contracts to your projects within your Bonsai dashboard. Easy peasy!

Ghostwriting agreement FAQs

How do I start freelance ghostwriting?

Ghostwriters often have at least a few years of experience writing professionally before deciding to shift into ghostwriting.

This shift can come naturally as new clients discover your work, like your tone of voice, and want you to replicate it for themselves. Or, you can actively seek ghostwriting opportunities by reaching out to figures in the public eye and within your knowledge niche.

For more resources on becoming a freelance ghostwriter, see how to manage self-employment tax deductions.

How much do ghostwriters get paid?

If you're ghostwriting a book, you can earn anything between $5,000-$50,000. There's clearly a big gap here. Why? It largely depends on your experience, the industry you’re writing for, having a good network of freelance writing clients, and the clients themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about this template.

How do I write a ghostwriting contract?

Start by editing Bonsai's free pre-made template. You'll simply customize the price, description of services, dates, length, revisions, and copyright provisions.

How much should I charge to ghostwrite?

Ghostwriters could charge anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 per project. Depending on the length of the content and what needs to be done.

The majority of the time, ghostwriters do not receive any royalties for books or content that are hired to write. The copyright and ownership of the content is usually determined prior to starting.

The majority of the time, ghostwriters do not receive any royalties for books or content that are hired to write. The copyright and ownership of the content is usually determined prior to starting.

Template preview

Free Ghostwriting Agreement Template

Ghostwriting Agreement Template

First Name
Last Name
Acme LLC.
First Name
Last Name
Corporation Corp.

This Contract is between Client (the "Client") and Company (the "Contractor").


1.1 Project. The Client is hiring the Contractor to do the following: [PROJECT SCOPE]

1.2 Schedule. The Contractor will begin work on [START DATE] and will continue until the work is completed. This Contract can be ended by either Client or Contractor at any time, pursuant to the terms of Section 6, Term and Termination.

1.3 Payment. The Client will pay the Contractor a rate of [PROJECT RATE] for writing services provided. Of this, the Client will pay the Contractor a non-refundable deposit of [DEPOSIT AMOUNT] before work begins, to be deducted from the first invoice payment. This deposit is non-refundable due to the Contractor reserving their schedule on behalf of the Client.

Changes to the Project scope may lead to additional fees and changes to the Schedule with less than a 7-day turnaround may incur up to a 50 percent rush fee.

1.4 Expenses. The Contractor may request additional payment for any agreed-upon, non-cancellable expenses, which must approved by the Client in advance.

1.5 Invoices.  The Contractor will invoice the Client [INVOICE FREQUENCY]. The Client agrees to pay the amount owed within [X DAYS TO PAY] days of receiving an invoice. Payment after that date will incur a late fee of [LATE FEE PERCENTAGE]% per month on the outstanding amount.

1.6 Support. The Contractor will not provide support for any deliverable or once the Client accepts it, unless otherwise agreed in writing.


2.1 Client Owns All Work Product. As part of this job, the Contractor is creating "work product" for the Client. To avoid confusion, work product is the finished product, as well as writing, drafts, notes, materials, mockups, designs, templates, email content and anything else that the Contractor creates as part of this project. The Contractor retains all copyrights of the work product until payment for it has been completed. Once the Client pays for it in full, ownership and copyright of the work product will be transferred to the Client and will be the exclusive property of Client.

This means that upon payment, the Contractor will give the Client all of its rights, titles, and interests in and to the work product (including intellectual property rights), and the Client will be the sole owner of it. The Client can use the work product however it wants or it can decide not to use the work product at all. The Client, for example, can modify, destroy, or sell it, as it sees fit.

2.2 Contractor's Use Of Work Product. Once the Contractor transfers copyrights to the work product to the Client, the Contractor does not have any rights to it, except the right to display the work product in their portfolio or website.

2.3 Contractor's Help Securing Ownership. In the future, the Client may need the Contractor's help to show that the Client owns the work product or to complete the transfer. The Contractor agrees to help with that. For example, the Contractor may have to sign a patent application. The Client will pay any required expenses for this. If the Client can't find the Contractor, the Contractor agrees that the Client can act on the Contractor's behalf to accomplish the same thing. The following language gives the Client that right: if the Client can't find the Contractor after spending reasonable effort trying to do so, the Contractor hereby irrevocably designates and appoints the Client as the Contractor's agent and attorney-in-fact, which appointment is coupled with an interest, to act for the Contractor and on the Contractor's behalf to execute, verify, and file the required documents and to take any other legal action to accomplish the purposes of paragraph 2.1 (Client Owns All Work Product).

2.4 Contractor's IP That Is Not Work Product. During the course of this project, the Contractor might use intellectual property that the Contractor owns or has licensed from a third party, but that does not qualify as "work product." This is called "background IP." Possible examples of background IP are pre-existing marketing strategies, code, type fonts, properly-licensed stock photos, proprietary marketing practices and web application tools.

The Contractor is not giving the Client this background IP. But, as part of the Contract, the Contractor is giving the Client a right to use and license (with the right to sublicense) the background IP to develop, market, sell, and support the Client's products and services. The Client may use this background IP worldwide and free of charge, but it cannot transfer its rights to the background IP (except as allowed in Section 11.1 (Assignment)). The Client cannot sell or license the background IP separately from its products or services. The Contractor cannot take back this grant, and this grant does not end when the Contract is over.

2.5 Contractor's Right To Use Client IP. The Contractor may need to use the Client's intellectual property to do its job. For example, if the Client is hiring the Contractor to build a website, the Contractor may have to use the Client's logo. The Client agrees to let the Contractor use the Client's intellectual property and other intellectual property that the Client controls to the extent reasonably necessary to do the Contractor's job. Beyond that, the Client is not giving the Contractor any intellectual property rights, unless specifically stated otherwise in this Contract.


The Contractor won't work for a competitor of the Client until this Contract ends. To avoid confusion, a competitor is any third party that develops, manufactures, promotes, sells, licenses, distributes, or provides products or services that are substantially similar to the Client's products or services. A competitor is also a third party that plans to do any of those things. The one exception to this restriction is if the Contractor asks for permission beforehand and the Client agrees to it in writing. If the Contractor uses employees or subcontractors, the Contractor must make sure they follow the obligations in this paragraph, as well.


Until this Contract ends, the Contractor won't: (a) encourage Client employees or service providers to stop working for the Client; (b) encourage Client customers or clients to stop doing business with the Client; or (c) hire anyone who worked for the Client over the 12-month period before the Contract ended.

The one exception is if the Contractor puts out a general ad and someone who happened to work for the Client responds. In that case, the Contractor may hire that candidate.


5.1 Overview. This section contains important promises between the parties.

5.2 Authority To Sign. Each party promises to the other party that it has the authority to enter into this Contract and to perform all of its obligations under this Contract.

5.3 Contractor Has Right To Give Client Work Product. The Contractor promises that it owns the work product, that the Contractor is able to give the work product to the Client, and that no other party will claim that it owns the work product. If the Contractor uses employees or subcontractors, the Contractor also promises that these employees and subcontractors have signed contracts with the Contractor giving the Contractor any rights that the employees or subcontractors have related to the Contractor's background IP and work product.

5.4 Contractor Will Comply With Laws. The Contractor promises that the manner it does this job, its work product, and any background IP it uses comply with applicable laws and regulations.

5.5 Work Product Does Not Infringe. The Contractor promises that its work product does not and will not infringe on someone else's intellectual property rights, that the Contractor has the right to let the Client use the background IP, and that this Contract does not and will not violate any contract that the Contractor has entered into or will enter into with someone else.

5.6 Client Will Review Work. The Client promises to review the work product, to be reasonably available to the Contractor if the Contractor has questions regarding this project, and to provide timely feedback and decisions.

5.7 Client-Supplied Material Does Not Infringe. If the Client provides the Contractor with material to incorporate into the work product, the Client promises that this material does not infringe on someone else's intellectual property rights.


This Contract may be ended by the Client or the Contractor at any time. Either party may end this Contract for any reason by sending an email or letter to the other party, informing the recipient that the sender is ending the Contract and that the Contract will end in 7 days. The Contract officially ends once that time has passed.

The party that is ending the Contract must provide notice by taking the steps explained in Section 11.4. The Contractor must immediately stop working as soon as it receives this notice, unless the notice says otherwise. The Client will pay the Contractor for the work done up until when the Contract ends and will reimburse the Contractor for any agreed-upon, non-cancellable expenses. The following sections don't end even after the Contract ends: 2 (Ownership and Licenses); 3 (Competitive Engagements); 4 (Non-Solicitation); 5 (Representations); 8 (Confidential Information); 9 (Limitation of Liability); 10 (Indemnity); and 11 (General).


The Client is hiring the Contractor as an independent contractor. The following statements accurately reflect their relationship:

  • The Contractor will use its own equipment, tools, and material to do the work.
  • The Client will not control how the job is performed on a day-to-day basis. Rather, the Contractor is responsible for determining when, where, and how it will carry out the work.
  • The Client will not provide the Contractor with any training.
  • The Client and the Contractor do not have a partnership or employer-employee relationship.
  • The Contractor cannot enter into contracts, make promises, or act on behalf of the Client.
  • The Contractor is not entitled to the Client's benefits (e.g., group insurance, retirement benefits, retirement plans, vacation days).
  • The Contractor is responsible for its own taxes.
  • The Client will not withhold taxes or make payments for disability insurance, unemployment insurance, or workers compensation for the Contractor or any of the Contractor's employees or subcontractors.


8.1 Overview.  This Contract imposes special restrictions on how the Client and the Contractor must handle confidential information. These obligations are explained in this section.

8.2 The Client's Confidential Information.  While working for the Client, the Contractor may come across, or be given, Client information that is confidential. This is information like customer lists, business strategies, research & development notes, statistics about a website, and other information that is private. The Contractor promises to treat this information as if it is the Contractor's own confidential information. The Contractor may use this information to do its job under this Contract, but not for anything else. For example, if the Client lets the Contractor use a customer list to send out a newsletter, the Contractor cannot use those email addresses for any other purpose. The one exception to this is if the Client gives the Contractor written permission to use the information for another purpose, the Contractor may use the information for that purpose, as well. When this Contract ends, the Contractor must give back or destroy all confidential information, and confirm that it has done so. The Contractor promises that it will not share confidential information with a third party, unless the Client gives the Contractor written permission first. The Contractor must continue to follow these obligations, even after the Contract ends. The Contractor's responsibilities only stop if the Contractor can show any of the following: (i) that the information was already public when the Contractor came across it; (ii) the information became public after the Contractor came across it, but not because of anything the Contractor did or didn't do; (iii) the Contractor already knew the information when the Contractor came across it and the Contractor didn't have any obligation to keep it secret; (iv) a third party provided the Contractor with the information without requiring that the Contractor keep it a secret; or (v) the Contractor created the information on its own, without using anything belonging to the Client.

8.3 Third-Party Confidential Information.  It's possible the Client and the Contractor each have access to confidential information that belongs to third parties. The Client and the Contractor each promise that it will not share with the other party confidential information that belongs to third parties, unless it is allowed to do so. If the Client or the Contractor is allowed to share confidential information with the other party and does so, the sharing party promises to tell the other party in writing of any special restrictions regarding that information.


Neither party is liable for breach-of-contract damages that the breaching party could not reasonably have foreseen when it entered this Contract.


10.1 Overview.  This section transfers certain risks between the parties if a third party sues or goes after the Client or the Contractor or both. For example, if the Client gets sued for something that the Contractor did, then the Contractor will cooperate with the Client in responding to and defending against such complaint or claim.

10.2 Client Indemnity.  In this Contract, the Contractor agrees to indemnify the Client (and its affiliates and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against all liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys' fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of: (i) the work the Contractor has done under this Contract; (ii) a breach by the Contractor of its obligations under this Contract; or (iii) a breach by the Contractor of the promises it is making in Section 5 (Representations).

10.3 Contractor Indemnity.  In this Contract, the Client agrees to indemnify the Contractor (and its affiliates and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys' fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of a breach by the Client of its obligations under this Contract.


11.1 Assignment.  This Contract applies only to the Client and the Contractor. The Contractor cannot assign its rights or delegate its obligations under this Contract to a third-party (other than by will or intestate), without first receiving the Client's written permission. In contrast, the Client may assign its rights and delegate its obligations under this Contract without the Contractor's permission. This is necessary in case, for example, another Client buys out the Client or if the Client decides to sell the work product that results from this Contract.

11.2 Arbitration.  As the exclusive means of initiating adversarial proceedings to resolve any dispute arising under this Contract, a party may demand that the dispute be resolved by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its commercial arbitration rules.

11.3 Modification; Waiver.  To change anything in this Contract, the Client and the Contractor must agree to that change in writing and sign a document showing their contract. Neither party can waive its rights under this Contract or release the other party from its obligations under this Contract, unless the waiving party acknowledges it is doing so in writing and signs a document that says so.

11.4 Notices.

(a) Over the course of this Contract, one party may need to send a notice to the other party. For the notice to be valid, it must be in writing and delivered in one of the following ways: personal delivery, email, or certified or registered mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested). The notice must be delivered to the party's address listed at the end of this Contract or to another address that the party has provided in writing as an appropriate address to receive notice.

(b) The timing of when a notice is received can be very important. To avoid confusion, a valid notice is considered received as follows: (i) if delivered personally, it is considered received immediately; (ii) if delivered by email, it is considered received upon acknowledgement of receipt; (iii) if delivered by registered or certified mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested), it is considered received upon receipt as indicated by the date on the signed receipt. If a party refuses to accept notice or if notice cannot be delivered because of a change in address for which no notice was given, then it is considered received when the notice is rejected or unable to be delivered. If the notice is received after 5:00pm on a business day at the location specified in the address for that party, or on a day that is not a business day, then the notice is considered received at 9:00am on the next business day.

11.5 Severability.  This section deals with what happens if a portion of the Contract is found to be unenforceable. If that's the case, the unenforceable portion will be changed to the minimum extent necessary to make it enforceable, unless that change is not permitted by law, in which case the portion will be disregarded. If any portion of the Contract is changed or disregarded because it is unenforceable, the rest of the Contract is still enforceable.

11.6 Signatures.  The Client and the Contractor may sign this document using online e-signature software such as Bonsai. These electronic signatures count as originals for all intents and purposes.

11.7 Governing Law. The validity, interpretation, construction and performance of this document shall be governed by the laws of the United States of America.

11.8 Entire Contract.  This Contract represents the parties' final and complete understanding of this job and the subject matter discussed in this Contract. This Contract supersedes all other contracts (both written and oral) between the parties.


First Name
Last Name
Acme LLC.
First Name
Last Name
Corporation Corp.