Ghostwriters aren’t as scary or mysterious as their name makes them seem. Ghostwriters are hired to help with the production of a novel, articles, social media posts, or other pieces of writing. This can mean a few things:
1. The ghostwriter has been hired to take someone else’s ideas and write the work for them.
2. The ghostwriter has been hired to make significant changes to a rough draft beyond the level of a typical editor.
3. The ghostwriter has been hired by a company to produce a form letter, website, or similar piece.
4. The ghostwriter has been hired to write and publish their own ideas that will have someone else’s name on the work.
Ghostwriters are frequently hired to write the biographies of celebrities who do not have the ability to write their own work, be it due to skill level or time constraints. Due to the fact that their name is not credited as the author for their work, it is rare that a published work’s ghostwriter becomes known to the public. Additionally, often groups of ghostwriters work on one piece or one author’s collective work.
Some famous authors such as, Alexandre Dumas, Ian Fleming, R.L. Stine, Tom Clancy, L.J. Smith, Steven Spielberg, and many others, use ghostwriters. And many more are rumored to use or have used them, like Shakespeare and Stephen King. Sometimes, famous authors even do the ghostwriting themselves. For example, HP Lovecraft, author of Cthulhu, was a ghostwriter for magician and escape artist Harry Houdini.
If you want to be a ghostwriter:
There are a lot of ways to be a ghostwriter. One way is to be hired by an agency that specializes in ghostwriters, such as Arbor Services or Gotham Ghostwriters. There may also be a spot for you within a larger agency or publishing company. These companies will help to connect you to writers.
If you are looking to freelance ghostwrite, there are some sites where you can advertise yourself like Freelancer and Craigslist.
You can also seek out individuals who may be looking for ghostwriters in places like writer’s groups, Twitter and Facebook, and other social forums.
Pros and Cons:
· You get experience in the field.
· You get a chance to make connections in the field.
· You get to know the “author” of the work really well. If they are famous they could be valuable!
· You get paid for your work. Yay money!
· It is easy to be taken advantage of, make sure you do your research on common prices for ghostwriting, which can vary widely. Consider asking for a royalty.
· Despite it being your work, the “author” gets the final say on edits. Doesn’t seem fair, right?
· You may get a small mention or you may get none. You won’t get credit for your work.
· You will likely have to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
If you want to hire a ghostwriter:
There are a lot of reasons why you may wish to hire a ghostwriter, and needing to hire one is not something to be ashamed of. Lots of people use ghostwriters. If you want to find a ghostwriter, try some of the same links mentioned above for places that hire ghostwriters or advertise their services.
You could also see if you can find a literary agency or publisher that offers ghostwriting services or can connect you with a ghostwriter. You can put out your own ad on Facebook or Craigslist asking for a ghostwriter. You can also just do a Google search to yield results.
Pros and Cons:
· Great for a busy individual who has an idea they want to get out but no time to do it.
· The ghostwriter is being paid to produce quality work, so you can trust that the writing will be good.
· Ultimately, you get the final say on the drafts.
· Ghostwriters can be expensive. If either you or your ghostwriter are high profile the price can be near to $200,000 a book.
· You won’t get the experience of writing yourself nor learn how to for the future.
· If you don’t credit your ghostwriter to begin with, and it comes out later that you used one, you can lose credibility with your audience. They can feel as though they have been lied to.
The use of a ghostwriter creates a strange partnership, one that is different for every author and writer. The culture around ghostwriters is always changing too, sometimes kept in the dark behind closed doors like a dirty secret, other times accepted wholeheartedly and given the credit due. Ultimately the connection between the two is a business partnership and, as such, ought to be treated fairly and honestly. Both parties should know what the other expects from them so no one gets cheated.
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Kim Batchelor is a recent graduate of University of Michigan and avid consumer of media. She is the Buzz Manager at BookHive and is working on creating her own blog.