A ghostwriter is a professional freelance writer who writes on behalf of someone else and is usually entitled only to monetary benefits. In other words, this person is a proxy who expresses the client’s thoughts and feelings in a written form.

A person may be good at expressing ideas but putting something on paper is totally different, and that’s when ghostwriters are employed. A ghostwriter is hired when a person is verbally or technically adept in his subject but is unable to express his ideas in writing in a way that convinces his audience. He or she is also hired when the author lacks the inclination, time, and energy to write a well-structured and marketable manuscript.

A ghostwriter covers a wide range of topics including stories, autobiographies, articles, reports, books and website material. The name of a ghostwriter may or may not appear anywhere in the manuscript or book depending on the terms and conditions agreed upon.

Ghostwriter – the ultimate wordsmith

Often people have great ideas but are completely lost for words. This is where the ghostwriter steps in to suggest words and phrases that are completely in sync with the author’s thinking.

A successful ghostwriter is a professional wordsmith, who translates, interprets and transforms a certain idea into a readable, understandable and marketable piece of writing. He or she simply provides the words that describe the vision of the author.

In certain categories of non-fiction ghostwriting, it’s more crucial to capture the essence of the subject matter. A non-fiction ghostwriter invests a lot of effort, time and concentration to produce a good piece of writing. These non-fiction writers generally possess the expertise and conceptual understanding of the subject to convert the concept into a written document within the given deadline.

The collaborative process involving the ghostwriter and author-client

The relationship between the author-client and the ghostwriter determines the success of a project. Good communication, mutual respect and interpretation of ideas are some of the qualities that go a long way in meeting expectations of the target audience. One myth is that ghostwriting is done in isolation. In reality, ghostwriting is a highly collaborative process between the author-client and the ghostwriter.

The author should be able to effectively communicate the requirements to the ghostwriter and the ghostwriter should stick to deadlines to complete the project on time. The author-client should be able to explain the following to the ghostwriter:

  • The purpose of hiring the writer in the first place
  • Expectations from the project
  • Resources at the disposal of the writer
  • The author’s expertise regarding the subject matter
  • Target audience
  • Deadline of the project
  • Budget for the project
  • Terms of payment to the writer.

The ghostwriter has to understand the expectations of the client clearly.  Aspects such as scope of the project, resources, edits and conflict points should be defined at the very beginning of the project.  A successful ghostwriter is able to identify the voice, style and tone of the author-client, and convey the same style of communication to the target audience.

Another essential quality is people management skills and the ability to incorporate client feedback. However, a ghostwriter should integrate the author-client feedback only if it matches with the objective of the project.

Varying contributions of a ghostwriter

Generally, good ghostwriters are very versatile and can write on anything once briefed. However, some writers specialise in certain genres such as fiction, non-fiction, politics, medicine and blogs.

Ghostwriters are hired to pen fiction by publishing houses for either an established author or a series of books where the author is just a pseudonym.

Non-fiction ghostwriters write in several categories, such as academics, business, biographies, religion and politics. Eminent figures and celebrities, who lack the skills to structure or edit a manuscript, employ non-fiction ghostwriters to write their memoirs. They are generally hired to write:

  • Educational content including textbooks and material for teaching staff
  • Material for church-related activities
  • Web content for SEO and websites
  • Content for white papers, technical and business writing
  • Speeches for leaders in business, government and other areas
  • Celebrity memoirs, autobiographies and family histories
  • Books on business, current affairs, finance and spirituality
  • Self-help books
  • Cookbooks
  • and much more.

The role of a non-fiction ghostwriter can vary from minor to significant. Sometimes, they need to simply polish the content already written by the author. Such authors have a precise idea of their requirement and have enough research material to share with the writer.

Sometimes, the ghostwriter is entirely responsible for putting the thoughts of the author into easily understandable content. In this case, the writer may also have to do a complete research on the subject and connect it with the information provided by the celebrity or prominent figure. Here, the client or the celebrity also specifies the tone and style of the book.

Apart from these, there are also author-clients who depend on the ghostwriter for both ideas and content. With more and more businesses trying to carve a niche in the content marketing space, the importance of ghostwriters is also increasing. These ghostwriters are capable of integrating the content marketing strategy of a business. Quality content posted on the right website can influence the target market and result in a higher return-on-investment (ROI) for the business.

Though there have been a few controversies related to ghostwriting, it is still considered a perfectly ethical form of communication. The agreement between the client and the ghostwriter may be confidential, but it is still professional and can even be executed in the court of law. Some celebrities who got embroiled in such controversies include children’s author Siobhan Curham and former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

If you are looking for a ghostwriter, please contact us to discuss your requirements. We have provided ghostwriting services to hundreds of organisations in diverse sectors.

One example of our ghostwriting work was as a ghostwriter for a quantity surveying and cost planning company in Melbourne.