Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What is Ghostwriting Anyway?

In the world of freelance writing attaching the pre-fix "ghost" is pretty commonplace; but to the layman it may sound like an unusual term to describe what you do- albeit intriguing. The word is actually used quite literally. Most would consider a ghost to be invisible, and generally speaking a ghost writer is essentially just that to the reader- unseen, unknown, invisible. So what is the benefit? Why would someone let another take credit for what they have written? Let's get to the know the term and concept a bit more to answer those questions.

The Definition: The actual definition goes something like this, "a person who writes one or numerous speeches, books, articles, etc., for another person who is named as or presumed to be the author." Sounds simple enough. With this comes the fact that the author has no rights to the work they have done, it belongs to the individual that commissioned the work. You will not be referencing these pieces on your resume for example. But that isn't always a bad thing.

The Why: Simply put, ghostwriting is a job that pays money. Everyone does something to make a living. And unless you have just written the Great American Novel, in most cases you probably don't mind who gets the credit, as long as you get to cash the check. Many people have the need for writers and don't take on the task themselves; whether due to time, skill or a variety of other reasons. Sometimes you may get paid nicely to make someone sound better than they could themselves- people do it everyday through press releases and public speaking engagements.

The Maybe Not: As mentioned above in the definition you, the writer, won't get credit. Likely not ever for pieces that you have written for someone else under these terms. You cannot use these as examples to get additional work or build your writing resume. If your intention is to maintain and create a writing career it may be best to limit the ghostwriting assignments that you accept. Or at least look for other opportunities as well to fill in some gaps and allow you to produce some credible pieces for reference. If you feel a ghostwritten piece could be beneficial to your portfolio consider requesting a byline or negotiating for some credit. Don't be surprised if the client doesn't agree to either, it is after-all a ghostwriting gig. Hopefully you can at least get a good professional reference.

Ghostwriting can be an exciting way to hone your skills and also give you the opportunity to learn new things, build a strong client base and of course earn some money. How do you feel about writers being hired to write for others?


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  3. The term ghostwriting is on everyone's lips today and is often associated with negative press releases; especially when argued in an academic context. But Ghost writing existed in many areas, such as politics, fiction literature or biographies. However, every person should also be aware that many politicians, actors, as well as stars and stars from film and television use ghostwriters to write their own "car" biography or to write a book.