Merriam-webster dictionary defines the word ‘ghostwrite’ in a very simple fashion: to write for and in the name of another; it is that which one writes for another who is then presumed as the author or creator.
Ghostwriting, contrary to today’s beliefs, has actually been existing for so many centuries now, dating back to the time when kings and queens would have their messages being written by an apprentice or a scholar as for a speech, a letter, or simply, an art.
The goal or reason behind ghostwriting which is mainly applied until today is simple: either the original supposed-to-be author cannot do it in his or her own conditions or limitations, or for some other reasons like making a position in the world of writers wherein fame is deduced to the number of works being compiled in a given amount of time.
Today, ghostwriting has become so prominent and eminent in demand, more when the rise of the Internet age demands a credible online presence for everyone to look into whether it be on interest or demand. It’s inevitable that there’re really people who have not harnessed the skill in writing—especially when authoring the lengthy ones, and it’s also the same perspective that there are a large number of individuals who can write, but may not have the passion or the time for it. On top of these, some people are just hired to do so because of some exceptional skills prerequisite for a specific ghostwriting job.
Duties, Applications, and Expectations
Whether it be a simple biography, a speech, a letter, a short story, a manual, a novel, or even a piece of music, the range of what a ghostwriter can do is actually parallel to how far can an original writer do as well. The only difference is that the authorship is credited to somebody else, with or without the consideration of whether putting the ghostwriter as a contributor, an associate, or a mentor.
However, making original contents is not only the sole capacity expected from a ghostwriter. One can also be hired as a proofreader wherein he is expected to prune out the mistakes and refine the wordings, structure, grammar, and the tone of the message being expected to be delivered. One can also be hired as a contributor, wherein he is expected to contribute ideas or even a fraction of the whole content to be written. Part also of this latter expectation is doing research, wherein he is expected to draw out a fashionable list of assets which can later be used in creating original content.
But above all the expectations being thrown to the ghostwriter as such, he or she is expected not to lame the copyright being transferred to the assuming author. By copyright, we are referring to the intellectual property generally, wherein the ghostwriter will be withdrawn of the rights to claim that the work is his, unless pre-agreed during a written contract that he/she is allowed to do so.
On creating contents for the web, more particularly because of the large number of freelance writers looking for a position, it is also agreeable whether the ghostwriter will be allowed to put the work into his portfolio as part of the presenting collection for future employment. This is indeed one thing not to be missed during the terms of agreement, more because there are specific tools available to track and trace the originality of each and every segment of the content.
On the other end of this, ghostwriters will ensure the right to be properly compensated for the job, and this may include some material compensations like payments and bargains, but can also come in forms like a permanent position for a job, referrals, certifications, and other privileges. As of today, ghostwriting per se is still not considered a specific career path, but being a writer is. Hence, he who does ghostwriting may also commit to writing original contents that he may accredit all intellectual and material rights to himself.
Depending on the industry being referred to or chosen by the capable candidate, he or she is at least expected with the following qualifications:
- The knowledge of the industry, i.e, technical terms, techniques or tone of approach, a good background with the company or the process, statistics, and even materials used solely for the respective industry
- The ability to blend to another person’s line of thinking, ideas, way or manner of communication (such as speech), etc.
- The ability to meet deadlines and objectives, and follow client-contractor agreements or requirements.
- The skill to proofread own or submitted works based on trends, practices, and even communication rules like proper language grammar, usage, and presentation.
- The ability to use the latest tools and methods to bring out the expected results in the most efficient manner or output.
Ghostwriting can be fully employed in a thousand lots of ways, and the range of opportunities may be sampled as the list below:
- Creative writing: writing novels, essays, and short stories for selling/reselling;
- Writing manuals, tutorials, how-to’s, etc.;
- Online: writing for blogs, website contents, conducting reports, sales writing, e-mail templates, newsletters, etc.;
- Film industry: writing scripts, storylines, plots, autobiographies, etc.;
- Educational and medical: writing contents for textbooks, writing technical papers like theses, reports, and even slide presentations;
- Media: writing or rewriting news, headlines, editorials, printed media, scripts for radio or podcasts, etc.;
- Business: sales letters, letter heads, business proposals, persuasive resumés, presentations, research and content development, etc.
There’s not a definitive quote as to how much a ghostwriter can earn. It’s plainly hard to conceive that rooting from the swarm of ghostwriters in response to the exponential demand for them, the rate for a 500-word article, for example, has gone a lot lower than how much such was offered five years ago. There are even some clients who would ask for an amount of content for only $1 more or less, which is up to the writer to agree or not. This should not, however, be a limiting factor to entering the world of writing as there are exceptional writers capable of earning up to more than $50,000 for a 100,000-word journal or book.
Pitfalls and Advice
While a lot of writers are now into this ‘ghost’ business, it is not really a good career path to choose at least in a way or another. One of the reasons behind is that, the contractor would be expected to remain as a ghost, and if he aspires to be a notable writer in the future, works being done in ghost mode may not be held as credible materials to base on. One may develop the necessary skills in writing and be informed with the latest trends and practices, but unless he shifts from ghostwriting to writing in itself, then he is stuck with his work being treasured by many as someone else’s work.
This may, in a near future, turn into a new line of effective business as well. There are but a good number of agencies hiring such talents, and if the candidate is potentially fitting, he may find a good career path that will ensure good records to be utilized in the future. He may also be introduced as a noteworthy contributor of a company or an agency, and he may swing along with the rising tide of need for more good writers.