Professional Writing and Editing

January 14, 2010

A Ghostwriter’s Lament

I love ghostwriting. Helping people convey their message in their voice is both rewarding and challenging. It’s one thing to be able to write in your own voice, but an enriching experience to write in a different voice as you begin each new manuscript.

For the ghostwriter, though, there are disadvantages. It is understandable that clients would require a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or a confidentiality agreement, legally binding the ghostwriter’s promise to not disclose or discuss his or her participation and contribution to the book. After all, once the ghostwriter’s fees are paid, it’s common for all copyright ownership to transfer to the author.

But, therein lies the disadvantage. If a ghostwriter cannot disclose their work or clients, they must also omit that information from their resume. Often, this can lead to a resume which makes a ghostwriter look inexperienced.

Ghostwriters would love to be able to list their clients and publishers and boast about it to obtain appealing clients and projects. There are some ways around this, including asking clients to serve as references upon request and listing works in a nondescript, vague manner without revealing names and titles. Yet, it isn’t the same as laying stake to the claim that you contributed to (or wrote) a particular book which just reached bestseller status.

That’s one reason why a ghostwriter might charge more than someone who gets book cover credit, acknowledgement, or a byline for their work.

It’s also one reason we’re called ghostwriters. We’re invisible. And so is our past experience.

Patti McKenna


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