Why Do We Need Ghostwriters?

Posted on September 10, 2013


ImageI have to admit, whenever I hear the word “Ghostwriter,” I think of a TV series I used to watch when I was younger about a group of kids who solved crimes with the help of a mysterious ghost who sent messages using letters that were around him. But that is not at all what an actual ghostwriter does.   A ghostwriter is a person who writes a text for someone else who recieves official credit— it isn’t plagiarism. However, their main goal is to write in the style of that existing author. Sometimes a ghostwriter is hired by an author to edit or clean up a rough draft that has, for the most part, been completed.

            Ghostwriters have a lot of value in the publishing industry. They are often hired by celebrities and politicians to help write their autobiographies, and by writers suffering from writer’s block who need help getting their final thoughts on paper. Once material is gathered, the ghostwriter must be able to arrange it in a way that will make it interesting to read. They must also edit the work that the author has already produced.  

For those who are looking to hire a ghostwriter, keep in mind that complete honesty is very important. The person you hire may be lost if you are keeping things from him, and the collaboration won’t work out. Once the two writers have discussed the work involved, they can make a decision about payment.

You may be wondering how a ghostwriter determines his or her fee.  It isn’t always the same. If a ghostwriter is paid a flat fee, then the author keeps all royalties and advances. Ghostwriters can also be paid per page or given a percentage of the incoming sales. Sometimes the ghostwriter will receive partial credit on the cover or is included in the author’s acknowledgements; this helps those ghostwriters who may feel silenced in the background. However, some ghostwriters prefer staying unknown.  

One famous ghostwriter is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He composed songs for other musicians before he built a name for himself. In addition to books and songs, ghostwriters produce screenplays, as well. A ghostwriter named Kevin Quirk said, “What’s exciting about being a ghostwriter is meeting so many people and learning about their unique life experiences. It’s enriching to vicariously accompany them on their life journeys.”

Here is a list of essentials to keep in mind if you are hired as a ghostwriter:

  1. Schedule a Meeting. E-mailing isn’t enough. In order to get a real feeling for the author’s ideas and emotions, you have to speak to him or her and make a connection.
  2. Prepare a List of Questions. Ask the author questions regarding the topic you are working on, and ask how he or she would like the work to be completed. Be sure that you are well-informed and have all the necessary information.
  3. Create a Rough Draft. Help the author get started. That may be all he or she needs—a push in the right direction.
  4. Take Note of the Author’s Thoughts. If you suggest something that the author is not enthusiastic about, make a note. It’s something you can work on together until you find the message the author is trying to convey.

Even though a ghostwriter is working off of someone else’s idea, the work isn’t simple. Ultimately, as a ghostwriter the work is not yours, and you need to go with whatever the author feels comfortable with. When you’ve given so much effort to a project, this may be hard to accept, but that’s what makes ghostwriters so exceptional in the writing industry.

Tamika Ureña, Writer and Editor, Asta Publications


Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

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