There seems to be a lot of questions unanswered around ghost writing. People have often heard of a ghostwriter, but maybe they aren’t entirely sure what they do – or why anybody would need to hire one. I offer ghostwriting services, and I’m here to answer some of the questions I get most often about the practice – from how it works, to when you might not need a ghostwriter. Let’s dive right in.
Question #1: What is a ghostwriter?
A ghostwriter is a someone you hire to write under your pen name. You can find ghostwriters who specialize in everything under the sun – from white papers to blog posts to full blown books. Ghostwriting, in its truest form, means that the ghostwriter gets no credit for the published post. All credit goes to the “author” who the ghostwriter is working for.
Question #2: Why should I hire a ghostwriter?
There are so many reasons that you might want to hire a ghostwriter. In my experience, it’s because my clients don’t have enough time to dedicate to their content – whether that’s an eBook, a blog post, or any other written material. However, they have all of the brilliant ideas ready to go that are going to make for interesting, educational, or downright revolutionary content. The thing is – writing is time consuming. Editing different drafts of a piece is also time consuming. And, to be frank, not everyone who has brilliant, earth-shattering ideas locked up in their heads is a rock star at expressing those ideas with the written word.
That’s totally okay! Not everyone is good at writing. More importantly, not everyone likes writing. The purpose of bringing in a ghostwriter is to get all of your ideas out into the world to make you millions of dollars, grow your brand, or what have you – without you actually having to fire up Microsoft Word or put a pen to the paper. They save you time, and ensure that you have a professional, seamless, edited final copy of your masterpiece when all is said and done.
Question #3: Is ghostwriting ethical?
In short, yes, but there are some serious guidelines to keep in mind. The key for me is to ensure that the “author” I’m working with has their message clearly and accurately communicated in the pieces I work on with them. I ensure this through a variety of methods. Some authors send me audio files of their thoughts or ideas which I can pull from when organizing an outline. Other authors send me a “brain dump” of sorts via email so that I can use quotes directly from them. Of course, in no situation do blog posts or long written works go out underneath the name of a client without them having approved the piece first.
This, in my opinion, is the most important thing when it comes to ghostwriting. You want the “author” of the pieces to agree and own the concepts that I, the ghostwriter, have written down. Otherwise, there will be mixed messages sent out to their audience, their brand will lose credibility, and people will know that they’re not being genuinely themselves. I find that, when you’re looking to outsource your writing, hiring a live human being to do it for you is the best way to accomplish this. I know that there are many services out there, specifically for financial planners and those in the industry, that auto-post blogs, articles, social media – you name it. Unfortunately, with automated tools like that there is very little room for the “author” to have control over the content. More importantly, the content isn’t genuinely representative of their opinion. I may be biased, but steer clear of automated blogging companies if you can. Working with a writer who has a pulse is always a better bet.
Of course, if someone is publishing content under an “author’s” name without the “author” being aware, that is in no way ethical. There has to be a mutual agreement going on for a ghostwriter to take on someone’s name for publication – namely, the “author” should be hiring the ghostwriter and be well aware of what’s being written at all times.
Question #4: How do I know they’ll capture my voice?
To be completely honest, some ghostwriters are better at this than others. However, a ghostwriter should be able, based on interviews and conversations with you, to accurately depict who you are in their writing. I always equate it to wearing many hats when I’m working on ghostwriting pieces. I have to take off my “me” hat and put on someone else’s. Over an extended ghostwriting contract relationship, I usually pick up on casual phrases clients use, words they’d never put in a blog post, etc. In the beginning stages, there is usually some editing that happens, as well as a bit of a learning curve to truly capture the “author’s” voice. However, with time, there may be no edits required at all. The ghostwriter will get use to “being” you while they’re writing, and they’ll be able to correctly capture your ideas in your tone without any issues.
Question #5: When don’t you need a ghostwriter?
This is a tricky question, and in my opinion it’s a personal preference thing. If you work in a big firm where you have many contracted employees, it’s usually not that big of a deal to publish under your writer’s name, or to publish under no name at all (for example: written by The Good Planning Team). You could even have a blurb on your “About Us” page listing all of your employees and include your writer so that people know who they are. I’ve absolutely seen this done successfully.
However, I find that in service-based businesses (specifically in entrepreneur and solopreneur cases) where your name and your reputation is a large part of your company’s brand, ghostwriting is usually best. The way I see it, if your ideas are the ones being published, they shouldn’t be under my name. Or if people are coming to your blog or website to read what you have to say about retirement planning, they’re not going to love seeing that every post is written by this Zoe Meggert weirdo.
Ghostwriting can be nerve-wracking, especially when you’ve poured your heart and your soul into your business. Giving up the reins to your content is intimidating. But working with a ghostwriter also unleashes so many benefits. It frees up your time. It allows you to focus valuable energy on income earning activities. It helps you stay more consistent with your publishing schedule, even when you’re crazy busy. So, even if you’re intimidated, ghostwriting might be worth looking into as a solution for your business. I’d love to chat with you more about it, or answer any lingering questions you may have. Feel free to reach out!