Literary ‘Ghost’ing – All you need to know about ghostwriting

Did you know that many believe Shakespeare actually had other people writing his dramas? Or that more than 50% of non-fiction published in recent years has been ghostwritten? Yes, that’s right, ghostwriting is very prevalent in the literary community. Even if the general views about it are unfavourable (for no good reason).

Because of the apprehensive opinions about ghostwriting, it is no wonder that not many are aware of its actual definition. Everyone assumes it is one person hiring another writer to write a book and then taking all the credit. Ghostwriting, however, is very much nuanced and professional.

What exactly is ghostwriting?

In professional ghostwriting, the person who wants to publish their ideas hires a ghostwriter to help execute the vision. This execution is not credited to the ghostwriter – hence the apprehension. But most ghostwriting contracts come with a confidentially clause that states that the ghostwriter has to remain anonymous. On rare occasions, the ghostwriter may be acknowledged as a researcher – but 98% of the time, they are anonymous. They are as elusive as ghosts – get it?

The act of ghostwriting is also sometimes synonymous with writing under a pseudonym. Some authors may want to escape the fame their name brings – or just try something new that’s not associated with their brand. Solution? Writing – or ghostwriting – your own ideas but under a different name. In that sense, Stephen King, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling and even Agatha Christie are ghostwriters.

How does ghostwriting work?

The process of ghostwriting – may it be a speech, an article, a critical essay or even a novel – involves both the author and the ghostwriter equally. Even if the author proposes the idea, they must guide the ghostwriter to bring their vision to fruition. As for the ghostwriter, they must understand the author’s writing style and think like they do to put the correct words on paper. Unlike what everyone believes ghostwriting is, the process involves a lot of give-and-take.

Ghostwriting is not only legal but also does not involve plagiarism. The process involves a very detailed and legal contract binding on both the ghostwriter and the author. What is unacceptable, however, in this business is misleading. For example, you can’t submit a ghostwritten manuscript to publishers and say it is yours. Or send a ghostwritten dissertation to your professors while claiming it to be self-written. Admittedly, it is more of an ethical issue than a legal one – but an issue nonetheless.

Why do authors seek ghostwriters?

There are many reasons why an author may hire a ghostwriter – or a team of ghostwriters, for that matter.

  • Lack of touch/too in touch with the topic:

Sometimes, the person who wants to work on their idea may only be superficially aware of the topic. If a ghostwriter is introduced in the scenario, the person can voice out their vision and leave the research and execution in the writer’s hands. This is especially the case with celebrities and public figures, who have a general idea of their topic. But they don’t know how to, nor do they have time to think about it – which is where ghostwriters come into the picture.

As opposed to this is being too close to the idea. The person may be familiar with the topic that he or she feels unable to write about as objectively as possible. Instead of letting their personal biases interfere with the text, they allow a ghostwriter to work with them to bring more favourable results. This is true for people who want to write memoirs or autobiographies.

  • Approaching deadlines:

Say you’re a well-established author with many self-written novels to your name. But now, you are experiencing a creative block, and your publisher’s deadline is looming over your head. You can either force yourself to turn in half-baked content or discuss with your publisher about hiring a ghostwriter. Chances are they will agree – and everyone involved will get something good out of it!

  • A guaranteed sell:

A ghostwriter brings professionalism as well as marketability to the table. They know how to make any content marketable, i.e. writing it in a way that’ll be a guaranteed sell. You can dump your ideas to them, and they’ll craft those in a way the readers would go crazy reading. A ghostwriter can make you relax about the content part – and give you a lot of free time. Usually, the authors use this free time to look into the extensive publishing process.

How to become a ghostwriter?

If you want to become a ghostwriter, you’ve come to the right place! To envision someone else’s idea and write it for the entire world to see. Indeed, becoming a ghostwriter is an exciting thing. But one just can’t get up one day and decide to start writing books – you must train yourself to think and act like a ghostwriter. How? Read along!

  • Understand what the term really entails:

Ghostwriting is not supposed to be taken lightly – something where you can research for an hour and spew out remotely readable content. Instead, you must understand how your contribution works as an invisible entity. You’ll be working closely with the author, observing the critical points of their style and delivering a seamless result. It is a responsibility; only go for it if you not only acknowledge the hard work but are also ready for it!

  • Study the different writing styles:

Now that you’ve moved past stage one, it is time to study the writing styles. You can’t just barge into a ghostwriting project and apply your own style. That will do more harm than good. But how will you develop your own style and study others’ style? The answer obviously books! Reading books is a great way to grasp good storytelling. You can also understand the different writing components and realize how the authors put their voices through their words. If you want to ghostwrite other content, then don’t just limit your reading list to books – read anything published in this world.

  • Create a portfolio with solid examples:

Reading won’t alone help you become an excellent ghostwriter – now you’ve to create your impressive portfolio. And that can be done if you start writing. Take baby steps – a poem here, a simple article there. Slowly build your sample bank, which will then help you become a freelance writer. As you continue freelancing, you will gain several valuable connections and develop a unique portfolio. Writing and publishing books will also help – just so you know!

  • Market yourself as a ghostwriter:

Grab the attention of the connections you made as a freelance writer and sell them your ghostwriting skills. Even if they don’t exactly need a ghostwriter, they will create a buzz for your skills, especially if

By Booked4Books Network