The term ‘ghostwriter’ carries negative connotations by many myths and misconceptions.
Despite their significance in the content-driven scene, the term ‘ghostwriter’ often carries a negative connotation driven by many myths and misconceptions. This article highlights the truth behind ghostwriting and shows why this field can be a reasonable career choice.
1. Ghostwriting Is a Low-Status Job
Many freelancers believe that ghostwriting is not as prestigious as being a fully-fledged author. After all, the task of a ghostwriter is to maintain literary invisibility and reduce his or her personal impact on the written text as much as possible. Nonetheless, this does not automatically entail that being a ghostwriter is low-status. In fact, ghostwriting is recognised by many celebrities (such as Kanye West or George Takei) and companies to be a valid method of reaching their target audiences. Furthermore, because their services are in such a high demand, ghostwriters are among the freelancing jobs with the largest possible income. Thus, the stigma against ghostwriting is hardly justified in practice.
2. Ghostwriters Cannot Promote Themselves
A major implication of ghostwriting is that the actual author has to keep a façade of anonymity. In turn, this means that ghostwriters cannot reference their prior works openly and therefore have fewer opportunities to promote their skills, limiting their career growth. Similarly to the previous myth, this opinion has little practical ground. For instance, confidentiality is usually requested only by the most famous of clients and even in these cases, the details of agreements could be negotiated to leave plenty of room for the writer’s self-promotion. While non-disclosure is important for some jobs, others could be freely leveraged by the ghostwriter in their resumes or portfolios.
3. Ghostwriters Achieve Zero Recognition
It is assumed by many that ghostwriters often stay in the shadows and are not publically acknowledged by their clients, which can certainly reduce the motivation to become one. However, the recent cases of such celebrities as Hilary Clinton or Urban Meyer demonstrate that many people who rely on the services of ghostwriters visibly highlight the contribution made by the freelancers either in the acknowledgements, the text or even on the book cover. While ghostwriters cannot rely on the same publicity as George R.R. Martin or similar authors, their achievements are in most cases open and public.
4. Ghostwriters Are Inherently Less Skilful than Other Freelancers
Because ghostwriters are often required to mimic a specific linguistic or literary style, these professionals could be perceived as less capable than other freelancers. In fact, the reverse is true in that while it is becoming possible to create an algorithm that would mimic an individual’s writing style, it is still a challenge for one human being to fully imitate another person’s writing style with all nuances. So, ghostwriters can only achieve some degree of similarity with their client’s narration manner, but can’t counterfeit it without a risk of being exposed. This takes a significant level of skill and mastery.
5. Ghostwriters Are Only Hired by Celebrities
In recent years, the term ‘ghostwriting’ has been frequently linked to celebrities (e.g. Donald Trump), creating a public image that being a ghostwriter is only limited to this particular sector. Real ghostwriters, however, state that the majority of their work comes from publishers, company CEOs or public relations departments and social media influencers. Therefore, ghostwriting serves as a highly reliable and solid platform of earning income.
6. The Ghostwriter-Client Relationships Are Problematic and Stressful
Another widely held and persistent myth is that the demands posited by the clients of ghostwriters are often unreasonable, creating a significant amount of stress. Of particular note is a misconception that ghostwriters are required to create the content from scratch without any input from the job provider. In practice, the process of ghostwriting is a close collaboration between the client and the writer who are both interested in producing the best possible outcome, which makes ghostwriting no different from any other freelancing job.
7. Ghostwriting Is Not a Satisfactory Job
Since ghostwriters are often required to actively prevent their unique styles from influencing their works, it is easy to think of ghostwriting as an unsatisfactory experience in terms of self-expression. While this concern can be valid if a writer values this particular side of the job process, ghostwriters frequently highlight how client communication and being able to learn distinct styles of writing present interesting challenges, which make their careers fulfilling and motivating.
8. The Income of Ghostwriters is Limited
It is also possible to argue that because ghostwriters are frequently required to stay anonymous, their bargaining power in terms of income is severely constrained. Despite this, a brief overview of the income trends for ghostwriting reveals that the upper income bracket for this job is estimated at $80,000 with an average hourly rate of $24. Overall, ghostwriting is a reasonable way to make a living and maintain a profitable freelancing career.
9. Ghostwriting Is Essentially Plagiarism
A frequent claim made by the opponents of ghostwriting is that this service constitutes plagiarism by duplicating another individual’s writing style and manner. For this reason, such an approach to writing is myopic and inherently superficial. While ghostwriters are required to rely on the demands of their clients, the same could be said of all freelancers. Moreover, the end result provided by ghostwriters is still original content. In fact, ghostwriters could instead be a solution to the problem of plagiarism as their services allow many individuals to discard copied content and instead rely on the works provided by a trained professional.
10. Ghostwriting Is Inherently Wrong
One final point that could be made against ghostwriting is that this job is unethical as the readers are essentially fooled into thinking that a specific piece of content was written by a particular person or influencer, which in turn affects the image of that physical or business entity. On the other hand, there exists a wide variety of fields where ghostwriting is not only ethical, but is widely accepted by the general public in the form of writing social media posts or speeches. In other words, while ghostwriting can be used to serve an unethical purpose, the core concept of this job does not carry negative ethical implications.
Although the existing stigma surrounding ghostwriting can be demotivating, it is important to remember that ghostwriting is just as prestigious and engaging as other writing jobs available to freelancers. Moreover, its ability to attract income and develop one’s career are also highly noteworthy. Hopefully, the influence of the myths mentioned in this article will diminish and ghostwriting will be perceived for what it actually is, namely an in-demand service benefitting both the providers and the consumers of information.
Anna Clarke is the owner of online writing company 15 Writers. She is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in both freelancing and academic writing industries, specialising in Business, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Management.