You’ve probably heard of a celebrity writing a memoir with the help – or collaboration, as it is sometimes called – of a ghost writer before. But did you know that ghost writing can be so much more than writing a book under someone else’s name?
Today, the pool of ghost writers has expanded to include professional freelancers, authors, journalists, and personal assistants. These are writers who are working behind the scenes. They are crafting articles, blog posts, speeches, and books in the voice of their employer. Put another way, ghostwriting is simply a service by which professional writers help polish and communicate the work of authors. Remember, a ghost writer’s name won’t be in the byline. Thus the “ghost” factor.
According to Hal Clifford, ghost writer and editor, “using a ghostwriter is great if you want to write a book or generate a lot of content but don’t want to devote the time and energy required for a professional result.” An entrepreneur, for example, can focus on their skill set and knowledge base, while a ghost writer focuses on the writing at hand. Publishing sources call ghost writers equal parts editor, reporter, writer, mimic, and shrink.
In 2022, ghost writers have become a critical part of the publishing industry. From blog posts to white papers to self-help books – the percentage of non-fiction that is ghostwritten has been widely estimated at more than fifty percent and rising each year. Now is a great time to get into the ghost writing industry, but first, read through our tips for how you can become a ghost writer in 2022 and what benefits you can expect:
How to Become a Ghost Writer?
1. Expand your knowledge base
Read voraciously about different subjects. Unless you work for a specific company or industry, chances are you’ll be covering a variety of topics. Working with Constant Content will expose you to many different business needs. You could be writing product descriptions for an e-commerce company one day and crafting an SEO-friendly travel article the next. The best ghostwriters are well-read and up to date on [an] industry for valuable topic ideation.
2. Know how to imitate the “voice” of your employer
Whether you’re working for a single business or several, you’ll need to be able to put on different hats, so to speak. One of the most important parts of being a ghost writer is being able to write in a variety of tones and styles. Since you’re writing content under someone else’s name, it’s critical that you understand how they communicate. Know whose voice you’re writing in. Is it the CEO’s voice, or the brand (company) voice?
Prospective employers will look at how well you write and how versatile your writing style is. Be flexible and adaptable. Show your ability to be a “chameleon” with the voice, style, and nuances of your client. Don’t forget to ask questions of your client to understand exactly what they’re looking for and expecting from you.
3. Get comfortable editing your own work
Become a proficient editor. Read up on popular style guides. Refresh your grammar skills. Use active voice over passive voice. Cut redundant, superfluous words. Make your writing crisp, sharp, and concise.
4. Develop a portfolio
When you’re getting started in the world of ghost writing, first stretch your freelance writing muscles. Your knowledge should increase with the more articles you write, so get into the routine of submitting articles regularly. This will help you showcase your writing skills and your range.
As noted above, you will need to demonstrate your ability to tailor each writing assignment to embody the voice and tone of your employer. Have several samples of your previous work ready to share with your prospective client during an interview or negotiation process.
When you’re getting started as a ghost writer, you most likely will have to reach out to your professional networks to find prospective clients. Keep your social media information current and keep your tone professional whenever you post. Try your hand at writing a guest post on another site related to ghost writing. You can also use LinkedIn to look for your next job. Let your professional colleagues and friends know that you’re looking for work. Once you’re up and running with regular work and your client base grows, so too will your referrals and opportunities.
When you’re getting ready to sign a contract, remember, as Hal Clifford explains, “use a professional contract with a clear scope of work and defined deliverables. Their proposal should include a trial period with an easy off-ramp if things aren’t working out.” As a ghost writer, you’ll probably have to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Make sure you and your client know exactly what’s expected from both parties. Get as much information from your client as possible upfront. Set the parameters of your contract, including timelines, interviews, feedback, revisions, editorial reviews, and your payment fees and deadlines.
Legal and Ethical Considerations in Ghostwriting
In the world of ghostwriting, legality and ethics are as essential as the words themselves. Before the ghostwriting process begins, be sure to draw up and sign a contract that spells out the ownership and rights of the content. There may not be specific laws targeting ghostwriting, but a signed agreement between a ghostwriter and their client is crucial, covering everything from authorship claims to how the work can be used and shared.
Bear in mind that the waters can get a bit murky when it comes to the ethics of writing under someone else’s name. Ghostwriting is inherently ethical, but it steers into unethical territory when it involves misrepresentation. For example, in the academic field, ghostwriting can equate to plagiarism if a person who submits or publishes the content takes credit for a ghostwritten paper or study they didn’t actually craft. This would be a clear breach of academic integrity. Similarly, if someone uses ghostwritten content to falsely portray their abilities, like building a portfolio of articles they didn’t write to land a job, it crosses an ethical line. It’s about honesty and transparency. Ghostwriting turns problematic when it’s used as a mask, rather than a tool, to build a false image.
In any case, the balance of legality and ethics in ghostwriting depends largely on honest representation and clear, respectful agreements. It’s about maintaining integrity, both in the written word and in the way those words are used.
Benefits of Being a Ghost Writer:
Being a ghost writer can be lucrative.
Ghost writers can often command higher rates than writers who get accredited. In April 2022, Insider reported that ghost writers on LinkedIn are making $500-$700 an hour writing posts for high-powered execs. Businesses are willing and able to pay well for high-quality content. Aside from these extraordinary deals, on average, a ghostwriter can make between $10,000 – $50,000+ for a nonfiction book or memoir. For blog posts or articles, ghostwriters can easily earn between $150 – $500+. Remember that the rate can vary based on word count, your skill set, and/or the client’s budget.
Ghost writers write more than books.
Ghost writers are hired to write all sorts of things by all sorts of people including CTOs and technology executives, celebrities, and business executives. For entrepreneurs for whom writing doesn’t come naturally or don’t have the time to create their own content, ghost writers become key players in their business.
Ghost writers come on board with a company to help get content out in the world quickly. This content includes anything from long-form articles to executive speeches to multi-platform social media posts. Quality writing takes much time and demands a single focus on a single task. Most entrepreneurs can’t commit to that sharp focus on a daily basis, which slows publishing times and brand growth.
This is where ghost writers come in. Because of the necessity for brands and companies to be visible, pushing their product frequently, ghost writers can secure lasting contracts to produce a continuous and consistent stream of content.
When you’re ready to start ghost writing, start exploring the opportunities available to you on the Constant Content platform. With a wide scope of writing jobs available, you’re sure to discover your favorite topics to write on and new areas to focus your writing chops on as well as hone in on your subject areas of expertise.
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