What Is A Ghostwriter?

By definition, a ghostwriter is a writer that produces content without credit. Traditional ghostwriting jobs include producing books on behalf of celebrities and writing speeches on behalf of public figures. However, the digital age has brought about many new ghostwriting opportunities.

A freelance ghostwriter can easily earn a living writing articles, social media posts, and other content on behalf of individuals and brands. Here’s a more in-depth look at what it means to be a ghostwriter. 

Does A Ghostwriter Get Credit?

Ghostwriters, by definition, are not credited for their work (which is where the term “ghost” comes in). Many things you read on a daily basis are ghostwritten, which means either no writer is credited for the work or the person who receives credit for the work isn’t the actual writer of it.

The latter is often the case with celebrity books and the works of other public figures. By hiring a ghostwriter, they can have a professional put their ideas into words. Such ghostwriters sometimes get paid tens of thousands of dollars for a single project.

However, most ghostwriters work on a freelance basis. The average ghostwriter won’t be writing for big-name celebrities, but rather on behalf of companies. These content writers produce things like:

  • Blog posts
  • Books and eBooks
  • Newsletters
  • Press Releases
  • Proposals
  • Social Media Posts
  • Speeches
  • Website Content

There are also fiction ghostwriters, who specialize in writing books. Famous examples include the Goosebumps series and various novels published by James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and countless others.

How Is Ghostwriting Different From Co-Authoring?

Presumably, when two people are credited as co-authors, both of them have contributed in some way to the actual writing of the piece. So if Sally and John collaborate on a book, they would both be credited as co-authors. However, if Sally hires John to write out her idea, Sally will be the only author credited on the cover, as if she wrote it herself.

Ghostwriters aren’t typically credited as “co-authors” because crediting a ghostwriter takes the “ghost” part out of the term. If they are credited, they are no longer a “ghostwriter,” but rather a writer, contributor, or author. 

Does A Ghostwriter Earn Royalties?

In general, content ghostwriters will charge per word. Most will not require royalties, but it all depends on the type of content they are writing.

For instance, it doesn’t make sense for a ghostwriter to request royalties for a Facebook post they write on behalf of a brand. However, a ghostwriter producing a book for an industry professional is likely to request royalties, since the author will be profiting from their work indefinitely with each copy of the book they sell.

Aside from book ghostwriters, another type of ghostwriter that might request royalties is a copywriter. Copywriters produce advertisements and other promotional content that directly solicit sales for a product. Clayton Makepeace, for example, is touted as the highest-paid copywriter today. He has made up to $3 million annually just from royalties produced by his past projects. 

How Does A Ghostwriter Work?

In the case of a freelance ghostwriter, the work process generally involves finding projects–either by pitching to companies directly or (more often) by joining a platform where companies actively source writers to fulfill their various content needs.

When you read an “About Us” page on a company’s website or a social media post from a major brand, you’re reading ghostwritten content. As you can imagine, there are countless opportunities available for being a ghostwriter. If you’re interested, you can read my article on How To Become a Ghostwriter

If you’re in need of a ghostwriter to create content on your behalf, check out this guide on How to Hire a Content Writer.

Want Advice?

I love helping new writers find their place in the industry. If you’re just starting out (or trying to expand outside of your current platform), check out my other experience-backed articles: 

What Is A Ghostwriter?

About Me

Being a professional writer and editor means I can work from anywhere there’s WiFi, and that freedom has enabled me to go to some incredible places. When I’m not writing for clients, I’m generally writing posts for my blog–like the one you just read. You can learn more about my work and adventures here

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