The Ethics of Ghostwriting

Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

On my recent trip to the seaside I found myself in a quaint little bookshop.

Ghostwriting and ethics are two concepts that are very clearly intertwined. There is a hell of a lot of debate about whether ghostwriting is ethical or not. Of course, you might think that my own opinion is biased and you would be correct. I am a ghostwriter. But I am also many other things. I am a content writer, an editor, and most importantly… a reader. 

As someone who describes themselves first and foremost as a ghostwriter, I am often met with questioning looks. In reality, I think that ghostwriting is simply a misunderstood profession. Ghostwriting is a profession. I promise! My clients pay for a professional service and that is what they receive. There are so many reasons why a person might choose to hire a ghostwriter, some of which are inherently personal. In my humble opinion, there should be no shame around hiring a ghostwriter to support you through the process of telling your own story. Just as there should be no shame in hiring an editor to edit your manuscript. Essentially, you are hiring a professional ghostwriter for their expertise. A ghostwriter may tell the story but at the core of that story is the client. 

Ghostwriting is synonymous with empowerment. It provides the client with a valuable service to put their own concepts into words. It might surprise you that some highly successful people struggle to communicate effectively in writing. Without a ghostwriter, their ideas and passion would be lost in translation. A ghostwriter essentially gives a client a voice to effectively portray their own ideas. Similarly, in my line of work, I have come across clients with such incredible imaginations and artistic abilities, but for whatever reason putting those ideas onto paper doesn’t come naturally to them. The story, the world created, is their own. I am simply an apparatus to convey this to their audience. 

Writing is a skill, one which takes time to hone and develop. Some people just aren’t naturally gifted writers, and that’s perfectly fine! They’re gifted in other ways. Not to toot my own horn but I like to think that I excel in the writing department. That certainly doesn’t mean I am not lacking in other areas. I don’t have the capacity to be a CEO or a medical doctor, just as people in these professions might not succeed in the ghostwriting arena. This is where I come in. 

Something that I’ve been asked before is, “Is ghostwriting fraud?” Which is fine, I am more than happy to answer any questions about ghostwriting. As a writer who concentrates pretty much exclusively upon ghostwriting, please ask me anything about the profession. I love to discuss this topic. For me, ghostwriting is a collaborative approach. I have never had a client approach me with no ideas at all and ask me to write a book for them. Each client always has their own intention and objective for the project. Some clients prefer to be super involved in the project and others like to take a step back. Both are absolutely fine and totally acceptable in my eyes, and neither is a precursor for fraud. 

As a ghostwriter, I know I won’t be given credit and that’s fine by me! This is my job and it is something that I accepted a long time ago. When I first began writing, I too toyed with the ethics of ghostwriting and whether it was a moral thing to do. That was before I understood what it meant to people. Ghostwriting means that people, who would otherwise be unable to, can get their stories and expertise out there into the big wide world. Ghostwriting, at the end of the day, is a business transaction. I am paid for a service. The service of bringing your ideas to life in the form of a manuscript. I have all the credit I need in terms of your feedback and being lucky enough to collaborate with clients on something so personal to them. 

Is it ethical to hire a ghostwriter? My answer would be 100% categorically, yes. Definitely. Most assuredly. For me, the murky ground comes in the form of academic writing. While my ghostwriting service covers both fiction and non-fiction, you might notice that it doesn’t cover academic writing. This is something that I find unacceptable. My moral compass will not allow me to write an academic paper for a student to hand in as their own work. But other than that, yes, hire a ghostwriter if it is something you need to do. If you’ve had a story burning in your mind for years and just haven’t gotten around to writing it yet, hire a ghostwriter. If you’re an expert in your field and want to share your knowledge with others, but struggle to get your ideas on paper, hire a ghostwriter. The world is a better place with your ideas, imagination, and knowledge portrayed in the best way you are able to. If a ghostwriter helps you to achieve that, then go-ahead. 

We, ghostwriters, know what we signed up for. We are paid a fee to support you through your writing process in whatever means you require. There’s no need to feel sorry for us that we don’t receive ‘credit’ in the traditional way of being the named author on the cover of a book. That’s simply the nature of the job. A job I love and would never change for the world.

Wishing you love and books that make your heart skip a beat,

Sarah Jules x

3 thoughts on “The Ethics of Ghostwriting

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