A ghostwriter (sometimes spelled ghost writer) 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 ideas, thoughts and feelings in a written form. The credited author is usually the person who pays the ghostwriter for their services.
A person may be good at expressing ideas but putting something on paper is totally different, and that’s when ghostwriters are employed. It’s a person who’s hired when the author knows their subject but is unable to express his or her 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, like regularly publishing authors do.
Ghostwriting jobs can cover a wide range of topics including stories, autobiographies, articles, reports, books, short stories and website content. They are usually more involved than typical freelance writing jobs, such as websites and articles. 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 ghostwriters or ghostwriting companies can step 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. Examples can include nonfiction books, blog posts and social media content. Even a book proposal to a publisher or literary agent can be ghostwritten.
The collaborative process involving the ghostwriter and author-client
The relationship between the author-client and the writer determines the success of a project. Good communication, mutual respect and a quick grasp of ideas are some of the qualities that help in meeting the expectations of the target audience. One myth is that ghostwriting is done in isolation. In reality, this type of work 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 that person 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 clearly understand the expectations of the client. Aspects such as the scope of the ghostwriting 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, the writer should integrate the author-client feedback only if it matches the objective of the project. You will want to discuss this with the ghostwriting business before you enter an agreement. In addition, the timeframe will depend on whether the writer works full time or part time.
Varying contributions of ghostwriters
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. This could be 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, hire non-fiction ghostwriters to write for them. They are generally hired to write:
- Educational content including textbooks and material for teaching staff
- Biographies and memoirs
- 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
- 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 requirements 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 complete research on the subject and connect it with the information provided by the named author. 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 role of ghostwriters is growing. These scribes are capable of integrating the content marketing strategy of a business. Quality content posted 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’s still professional and can even be executed in a court of law. Some celebrities who ended up in such controversies include children’s authors Siobhan Curham and Hillary Clinton. The professional ghostwriter who wrote Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal has gone on a virtue-signalling apology tour discussing how he regrets working on the project. After reading the book myself, I question the man’s writing skills, so maybe it’s good he went on a public apology speaking tour.
If you want to write a book but don’t know where to start, please contact us on 1300 731 955 to discuss your requirements. We have provided ghostwriting services to hundreds of organisations in diverse sectors across Australia and around the globe.
One example of a ghostwritten book is one we wrote for a quantity surveying and cost planning company in Melbourne. Ghostwriting services rates will depend on factors such as the length of the project, the amount of research required, and the complexity of the topic. If you don’t want to write content or don’t think you have the skills, we will be glad to discuss the writing process with you and an estimate of our ghostwriting rate for your project.