Don’t Let Ghostwriting Spook You

Posted on July 29, 2014


Laptop typingMost people have heard of ghostwriters, but not many people are fully aware of what they do. There are even movies and books about ghostwriting highlighting ghostwriters’ struggles. However, ghostwriting isn’t as devious as it sounds. Most of the time, a respectful client will give credit to the ghostwriter as the co-author or editor, depending on how much the ghostwriter contributed to the work. The client will still receive the majority of the credit for the writing and can choose not to mention the ghostwriter at all.

A ghostwriter could be hired to write anything, including books, articles, reports, and social media posts. Ghostwriting also covers a variety of fields and subjects, such as fiction, medicine, academia, blogs, speeches, playwriting, and songwriting.

Ghostwriting can be broken down into three categories based on how the client works with his or her ghostwriter. One ghostwriting example is when a client gives the ghostwriter the topic and purpose of the piece, as well as any information the writer may need to reference. In this case the ghostwriter will do little to no idea generation, and focus more on writing and editing.

The second example is when the client gives the ghostwriter ideas without organizing them into an outline or draft. This may require the ghostwriter to spend weeks or months researching the topic. He or she will have to organize and format the majority of the piece.

The final form of ghostwriting is when the ghostwriter is in charge of ideas, content, organization, and writing. The client simply chooses the subject and approves the final draft. Which of these three ghostwriting styles is chosen will be chiefly based on the client’s goals.

Because ghostwriting spans a variety of fields, all sorts of people hire ghostwriters. The two main reasons you would want a ghostwriter is if you don’t have the skills to write or don’t have the time. A busy CEO of an up-and-coming company might want to share the secrets to his or her success, but there’s no time to sit down and write a book. To solve this issue, he or she would hire a ghostwriter to listen to ideas and accomplish the time-consuming task of writing an entire book.

You could be a talented musician who rocks out on the guitar, singing in front of stadiums full of fans, but you can’t write songs to save your life. That’s where a ghostwriter would swoop in to write lyrics, so you can keep selling tickets and albums.

A ghostwriter could also be someone who writes books in the style of a famous author who has passed away or can’t meet the demands of readers. Celebrities even hire ghostwriters to manage their social media accounts. If you can’t write, but you have the next great story in mind or need someone to fill in the blanks, a ghostwriter may be right for you.

While you hire a ghostwriter because you lack skills or time, other reasons for hiring a ghostwriter can be more specific and complex. You want to get your ideas out there and attract a loyal audience. If you want to get your writing done as soon as possible, a ghostwriter can do all of the legwork while you receive all of the credit. Of course, you will personally receive negative attention as well as positive feedback for the final publish work. For example, if your ghostwriter publishes an article that your readers dislike, your audience will be upset with you and not your ghostwriter. To avoid numerous negative responses to a piece, you should have a good relationship with your ghostwriter.

The relationship between client and ghostwriter varies based on the work, the style, and the contract. If someone violates a contract the client and ghostwriter agreed upon, both sides are hurt. Therefore, make sure you’re both happy with the agreement.

Clarify what kind of work the ghostwriter will be doing and how he or she will be compensated for his or her time. For example, the client could simply dictate while the ghostwriter writes. Another possibility is that the client already has a draft of the book, but would like the ghostwriter to edit it as well as expand on specific parts. Finally, the client could dump his or her ideas onto the ghostwriter and let the writer do the research, organization, and writing. In the end, the job of a ghostwriter is to be helpful and conform to the client’s needs.

Ghostwriting can do a lot of good while also creating a situation where either party can be exploited. A rather inexperienced ghostwriter could be enlisted by a client to do almost all of the work while receiving less than comparable compensation. On the other hand, a ghostwriter could charge a misinformed client too much.

There is also the controversy of a client putting his or her name on something that he or she didn’t actually write. If you’re thinking about hiring a ghostwriter, you must ask yourself if you feel all right receiving all of the credit and attention for something that you paid someone else to write. After all, most readers would be disappointed to know that their favorite author didn’t write the books they love. Of course, it’s sometimes necessary. Michael Crichton is an example of a late author who wasn’t able to finish several books (Mirco in 2011 and Pirate Lattitudes in 2009), so a ghostwriter stepped in to finish his work. Readers can now enjoy the works he never finished thanks to ghostwriters, although most fans will agree that they aren’t the same.

Personally, I wouldn’t hire a ghostwriter, but I have the skills and love for writing. Even if I lacked the ability to write well, I would try working with a writing coach before I sought out a ghostwriter. But not everyone can learn a time consuming and energy draining task like writing. Some people simply don’t like writing.

If you hire a ghostwriter, you should be fair to them, communicate what you want, and give credit where needed. If you spent hundreds of hours working on a difficult project, I’m sure you would want your name on the final product. Work as a team with your ghostwriter; they want to see the writing succeed as much as you do.

Alex Thurman, 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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