Ghostwriting means writing a work but crediting it to someone else. Unlike authors who choose to write under a penname or co-write with another author, ghostwriters are not often recognized in the published work.
If you’re an author who has knowledge or ideas for a book but not the time or skill to write them in a publishable form, a ghostwriter may be the perfect solution for you. We’ve put together a guide to using a ghostwriter as well as a discussion of the ethics of ghostwriting to help you decide if it’s a good fit for you. Read on to learn more.
Ethics of Ghostwriting
For those unfamiliar with the ghostwriting process, it can seem unethical for an author to take credit for a work they didn’t write. After all, as students, we were taught the importance of citing our work to distinguish between our own original ideas and those of another author.
The process of ghostwriting requires substantial involvement from both the credited author and the ghost – the author brings the knowledge and ideas, and the ghost studies the author’s style and voice to put their ideas into writing. Even though the ghost isn’t publicly credited, they’re still paid for their work. As long as this process is properly followed, using a ghostwriter is totally ethical.
Meanwhile, it becomes unethical if the credited author isn’t willing to work as a co-creator with the ghost. The author must also carefully review the book drafts to ensure that their voice and ideas have been accurately portrayed. Ghostwriters are in high demand, but their work can still be misinterpreted, and in the end, it’s the reputation of the credited author that’s at stake.
Authors should note that there are circumstances where a ghostwriter should not be used, such as when complete transparency about who wrote a piece of work is required (e.g., academic and scholarly works).
Employing a Ghost Writer
If you think working with a ghostwriter will benefit your next project, don’t be scared off by the process of hiring one. Here is everything you need to know.
1. Define project goals.First, it’s important that you have a good understanding of:
· The topic and genre of your book (e.g., memoir, autobiography)
· The purpose of your book (e.g. to entertain, inform, or persuade your readers)
· What you hope to gain from publishing it (e.g., expanding your credibility or brand)
2. Search for a suitable ghostwriter. Use freelancer marketplaces or agencies that connect authors and ghosts, and then select two or three writers based on your goals and their cost, skills, and previous work.
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· Note that it’s important to plan, as the best writers book projects several months in advance.
· You should request a project bid before starting any work with a writer. Ghostwriting costs can vary depending on whether the writer receives any acknowledgment (e.g., being included as an “As Told To” author) and whether you choose to share a percentage of your royalties.
3. Introductory meeting. Speak with your top candidates to determine if the partnership will work. Finding a great writer is just as important as ensuring you work well with them.
4. Project proposal. The ghost will then submit a proposal to you summarizing the timeline, goals, communication preferences, etc. Once a proposal is agreed upon, you and the ghost can begin creating your book!
5. Book outline. The ghost will record a series of preliminary interviews with you to collect your knowledge and ideas, which they’ll transform into a book outline for you to review and revise.
· You should agree on the method you’ll use for noting your revisions to the ghost. For example, you can make tracked changes directly to the outline or leave comments and have the ghost make any necessary changes.
6. Interviews. You and the ghost will then collaborate in more detailed interviews to expand the book outline so that the ghost can understand your style and voice.
7. Ghostwriting. The ghost can now begin the writing process. You should determine ahead of time whether you want the ghost to write individual chapters or a complete book draft before submitting it to you for revisions.
8. Author changes. Next, you should carefully review the chapter or book drafts to ensure they read naturally as if they were written by you and to check if any areas need to be expanded or clarified. The more involved you are here, the better – this is your book, after all.
9. Publishing. Once you and the ghost have collaborated to create a draft that has met your goals, it’s ready to go to your publisher. Note that a publisher may request additional revisions to ensure your book is the best it can be before it hits the shelves.
Proofreading & Editing Services
Ghostwriters are highly skilled at putting your knowledge, ideas, and voice into written form. However, mistakes can still happen. Fortunately, we have an expert editing team that can help make sure your ghostwritten book or novel is consistent, readable, and can fix spelling and grammatical errors so it’s error-free and ready for publication. You can submit a free trial document today to learn more.