Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Ghostwriting 101

I am a writer. Which can mean a lot of things. Some writers write only novels. Some write only news articles, or technical manuals, or product labels. There as many kinds of writers as there are types of writing. One of the types of writing that I do is called ghostwriting. Since I started last January, I have been surprised at the number of people who tell me they did not know about this type of work or that it even existed.

A ghost writer is someone who writes something for which someone else gets credit. Some books are written this way, both nonfiction and fiction, and even short stories. One of the most well known ghostwriting situations is when a famous person hires a professional writer to write their biography, and then publishes the work as an autobiography. claims that a number of famous authors used ghostwriters, including Tom Clancy and Alexander Dumas (notice that I am giving Derek credit here!)

When a book is published with the credit "as told to" or "with" and an author's name, technically it is not ghostwritten, but co-written. Often the main author is a famous person and the co-author is a professional writer. Hiring a ghostwriter is not plagiarism, which is taking credit for someone else's work without his permission. Plagiarism can also have a broader definition, especially in academic settings, in which any work submitted must be the student's own, and any quotes or referenced work must be cited in a particular way. Securing legal permission does not excuse academic plagiarism.

Why would a writer give permission for his work to be used without credit? The objective is usually financial. Writing does not generally pay very well, and even best-selling authors often do not make a living wage, especially if they are not able to turn out a fast-moving stream of best-selling books. Ghostwriters generally get paid when the book is written, not when it is published or sold. We also do not have to worry about agents, publishers, public appearances, and all of the mostly unpaid and non-writing work that is necessary in traditional publishing.

The use of ghostwriters is a time-honored practice. In the Internet Age, it can be quite anonymous, and you don't need to be rich and famous to do it. I have just finished my first ghostwritten book and I have already been paid for it, which is very nice, because as far as I know, it has not been published yet. I am working on a second book and I get paid every 10,000 words or so as the work is completed. This allows me to have regular income on a project that will take two to three months to complete. It is also helpful to get payments early in the process, so I know I can trust the anonymous person who hired me.

I am currently looking for work that will start later this month (April 2016). I write fiction and nonfiction books. You can hire me by going to and posting a job there. and similar sites provide escrow service as well as connecting writers with clients. You can click here to view my profile and get started.