Ghost Writing: Who Is Really Writing?

One of the services I offer as a virtual assistant at Virtual Colleague, LLC is ghost writing. While it’s not at the top of my list, it is something that I offer to do for my clients.  It’s controversial and some consider it unethical.

Business Card

What is ghost writing? This is when someone hires a writer to write something for them: an article, blog post, advertisement, commercial, video script, book, eBook, etc. and doesn’t use the actual writer’s name. The client hires a ghost writer for 2 reasons: 1) the client has the technical expertise, but does not have the writing skills and 2) the client doesn’t have the time to do that particular task and feel that a writer could do it for them.

Ghost Typewriter

What does ghost writing involve? The writer must determine exactly what the purpose of the piece is and what information is needed to accomplish the goal. For example, the company culture, attitude, products/services, discounts, giveaways, etc. While this is pretty straightforward information, the writing style, word usage, key words, and tone can easily cause problems or rejections for the writer. It is emphatic to discuss at length what is expected, including schedule, fee, deadlines, topics, and anything else pertinent to the assignment.

Why ghost write? New writers are looking for an “in” in the writing world and will accept these type of assignments. The assignment may come from an existing client that is impressed with the virtual assistant’s skills and wants to give her more responsibility.  If the writer is very knowledgeable in a particular area or expertise, then ghost writing is an easy way to make money and write about something the writer is familiar with.

GhostBusters How much control does the ghostwriter have? Sometimes, not much. The usual issues are: not getting paid the appropriate amount of money or getting paid on time; the client is never satisfied with the final re-write; the project is scrapped, but the writer isn’t told right away, which makes the writer keep working, but the client does not want to pay for that time spent on the project. Also, the writer cannot insert his/her own thoughts or feelings on the topic. Many times the observations of the writer or statistical research are dismissed, if the client feels that it would be detrimental to the company or product/service.

Smiley Writer

Is ghost writing ethical? This is a very difficult question to answer. It depends on the mindset and beliefs of the writer and the client. While the client may feel justified that they paid for a writing service and they got it, the writer does not get the recognition he/she deserves. The writer does all of the research and writing for the project, but doesn’t even get an honorable mention!

For newbie writers, this is a chance to do some writing and get used to researching, meeting deadlines, and dealing with clients, but for a serious, professional writer, this would not be the first choice for a career. While this may be necessary, so clients can get the word out about their adventures, explorations, or ideas; ghost writing requires a lot of time and patience, several re-writes only to experience the lack of acknowledgment.

As a virtual assistant, specializing in writing projects, I am particular about the types of ghost writing assignments I take. These assignments can end up being time-consuming, frustrating and not so financially rewarding. As a writer, it is always best to discover and use your own voice, when writing anything. Ghost writing limits that possibility, but is a way to earn money.

What do you think of ghostwriting? Let me know and check out my website: http://www.VirtualColleagueLLC.com

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