Should you hire a ghostwriter to write fiction with your name as author? How about an e-book about the history of your industry? Articles for your website? Blogs? When does it make sense to contract ghostwriting services and when does it not?
Ghostwriters and writing authored by ghostwriters abounds. Most of the autobiographies you see of famous people are ghostwritten. Memoirs too. Some of your favorite and most prolific writers have some of their books ghostwritten – they don’t have time to write them all. Scripts for screen plays are often written this way and many music lyrics also. Pharmaceutical companies pay ghostwriters to write the results of research, then pay well-known scientists or doctors to pretend that they wrote it (per Wikipedia). Politicians hire ghostwriters all the time to write speeches.
On the other hand, certain types of writing should not be farmed out. One of those is articles or blogs that need to show your personality. If you are a therapist, a private tutor, a consultant, or someone to whom it matters that your clients feel comfortable with you, you won’t want someone else to pretend to be you. The client will catch on immediately and is likely not to trust you.
Another type that shouldn’t be farmed out is your business plan. Why? Isn’t that a tedious job that’s perfect for getting someone else to do? It does take time, yes, but if you’re looking at it as tedium, then you shouldn’t be going into business. The business plan is the essence of your business. It’s your dreams put into words. It’s a tool to help you keep your dreams alive, and to share with others who can help you (with contacts, financing, etc). You lose too much by letting someone else write a business plan or any of its future revisions for you.
Here are some criteria to use when deciding whether or not to hire a ghostwriter:
- DO when you have a reputation well established, lots of business, and don’t have time to write anymore.
- DO when you have a ton of material about your life that you want articulated, but need someone to help you put it all together. Be sure to give them credit in your forward (as a “collaborator”).
- DO for impersonal work, like an industry blog, that requires research or analysis not specific to you.
- DON’T for any work that you want to reflect yourself clearly – where it’s important to you that readers feel your essence in the writing.
- DON’T give up your business plan or the writing of any other dream to others. It’s yours and you miss out on the pleasure, power, and benefits of articulating the dream, when you don’t do it yourself.
- DON’T if you suspect it might get you into legal trouble. If it’s a book that you know will sell well, consider co-writing it, if you need help.
Susette H is an environmental writer of many hats (especially green ones), who is experimenting with writing in different genres. Does she want credit or doesn’t she? That’s the essential question for someone considering ghostwriting.