What is a Ghost Writer?
By Karen Cole
Well, a ghost writer is really many things. We do editing and proofreading as well as writing – and a lot of us are freelance writers, either originally before we became ghost writers or as freelance writers who also do ghost writing. Ghost writing is usually performed by freelancers, although sometimes there is such a thing as ghost writing on a contractual basis, such as for literary agents or commercial and independent book publishers.
Ghost writing is an honorable profession and has been around since the ancient Greek times of Homer, who probably had a ghost writer, the Renaissance times of Shakespeare, who probably didn’t pen all of his own work, and the Revolutionary War times of Samuel Johnson and his ghost writer Boswell. It’s nothing new; professional authors of book series often hire ghost writers to complete their books, and politicians have been using ghost writers to write their speeches for centuries.
Basically, a ghost writer is a professional freelance writer for hire who performs the writing work for a client, but who takes no credit for the work performed. Nowadays, a lot of ghost writers are working as coauthors, and thus they do get some credit for their work, sometimes right on the book cover. These people are not doing strict ghost writing when they act as coauthors, though. Such writers are also called co-writers.
A true ghost writer does not take any credit for the writing work, no matter how much of it is from that ghost writer, or at least the work is considered to be a ghost writing project. This action is perfectly legal in all US states and most countries around the world, and it called “work for hire” under the related statutes. A work for hire ghost writer performs the writing work for upfront pay made during the course of completing the writing project, whether it’s a book, screenplay or music lyrics.
When you hire a ghost writer, you are getting the services of a paid professional writer, and in many cases the ghost writer has a lot of writing experience. You will want to check credentials to make sure the writer is experienced as stated, as some ghost writers are not all that experienced or are even good writers. Most ghost writers can come up with at least a few credentials, even though they might not be able to cite the author, client or title of the work involved.
Make sure you sign a contract with your ghost writer, one that should limit the total amount of revisions made to the work and the total amount of indemnities, and make sure that you keep connected with your ghost writer, either through email, phone contact or a combination of the two. Skype is also a great method of contact with your ghost writer. In any case, make sure the lines are kept open and that you communicate well with your ghost writer. Remember, you are both people with other lives than the ghost writing, and be prepared to weather the small storms that can come up to impede the progress of your writing project.
AUTHOR’S RESOURCE BOX: What is a ghost writer? I am the head of Ghost Writer, Inc., Karen Cole. GWI is an affordable ghost writer and editor service for books, manuscripts, screenplays and music lyrics. We also do affordable book and screenplay marketing and promotions. Hire GWI and you will get expert, experienced, published and optioned ghost writing services for pricing that fits your budgetary needs.