What is a Ghostwriter?
By Steve Gillman - July 19, 2014
ghostwriter you write articles, books, reports, or any other
texts that are officially credited to someone else. This is common
online, and a lot of what's out there has been written by someone
other than whoever has the byline.
Flickr photo by hobvias
You do the work and they get the credit. That's okay as long
as you get paid well enough for your time. Keep in mind though,
that the pieces you ghostwrite will not help you get your name
out there and you can't even put them in your portfolio to show
other potential clients -- unless you get permission from the
clients for whom you have ghostwritten.
The basics have been covered before on a page here about ghostwriting
jobs. By the way, I paid to have that page written, and I
could have chosen to have my name put on it, but I thought the
writer, Eric Hammer, should get the byline. I just needed the
content for my website, after all, and I wasn't paying enough
(in my opinion) to take the credit. In any case, this article
is about my experience and about the two types of ghostwriting.
Ghostwriting: Type One
Recently, after years of writing for my own books and websites,
I started working as a freelance writer. Most of the articles
and blog posts I write for others still have my name on them.
Some don't, making them ghostwriting. But these are still "my"
writing, even if they do appear with someone else's name on them
or no name at all. I got to write in my style, and even chose
So that's one kind of ghostwriting. You just write as you
normally would and allow someone else's name to be put on it.
This is perhaps the easiest and most common job (especially when
writing for websites and blogs) you'll have as a ghostwriter.
Ghostwriting: Type Two
Now, with some projects, I've branched into the second type
of ghostwriting. What's the difference? I'm writing specifically
as if I am the person who will have the byline. This is much
trickier, and more work, but a fun challenge too.
The first of these jobs was several articles for a travel
blog that promotes high-end stylish clothing and accessories.
In that case the byline was given to the company. I had to drop
my frugal, t-shirt and jeans personality and think like I was
young, wealthy, and knew what was in fashion. I had to write
from that perspective.
That wasn't so tough. But writing as though you are a specific
person is more difficult, and I have done that too. In those
cases you generally have to research and interview the person
unless you already know her really well. After all, when you
write, "One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon is..."
it better be one of her favorite ways. Her name will be on that
article and if done right it actually will be her article in
a sense. In other words, you are being a researcher and editor
as much as a writer.
A friend, with whom I occasionally play chess, has been a
ghostwriter for many years. He does what is perhaps the toughest
type of ghostwriting; autobiographies. Now you might wonder if
a book can really be called an autobiography when it's ghostwritten,
but again, as the writer of such books you are as much researcher
and editor as writer. The stories all belong to the life of the
person you are writing for, and even the sentiments expressed
in each chapter are his or hers if you're doing your job right.
That's quite a challenge. You have to think as though you
are your clients whenever you write "I," "me,"
or "mine." You have to relive their stories in your
Ghostwriting is interesting work, and not as difficult to
get into as you might think 9at least for the first type). Now
I can add being a ghostwriter to my list of the 100 or so ways
I've made money. Or should I add it as two different ways, since
I have done both types?