Ghostwriting: An Essential Guide

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When people think of the career of a writer, they tend to imagine a world of bylines, uncovering your own stories, and constant publicity for your own work. While this is true of some writing careers, there is an element of writing work that tends to be underestimated: ghostwriting.

If you’re contemplating a writing career, or looking to further the one you already have, then ghostwriting is a subject you’re going to want to learn more about. Below are the most common questions people have regarding ghostwriting– as well as the answers you need to set your career on the right track.

What is ghostwriting?

Ghostwriting is writing as you normally would, but not under your own name. You don’t receive a byline for the articles you produce; in fact, the article may appear under another person’s name entirely.

For example, say someone is an expert lawyer, with a wealth of experience to share with the world. That’s great… but they’re not a writer, and they can’t transform their knowledge into words. In that case, they would bring in a ghostwriter to compile articles, blog posts, even entire novels, on their behalf.

Why is ghostwriting beneficial?

Although you don’t receive direct credit for your work, you are paid to write, and it can often feel like there’s less pressure as your name isn’t attached.

How common is ghostwriting?

Very common; likely more common than you think. Some of the most successful blogs and even complete books have contributions from ghostwriters in the name of the author; if ghostwriting is done well, no one can tell the difference between the tone of the writer and the tone of the person who is claiming the work.

How do you build a portfolio as a ghostwriter?

There’s no doubt this is notoriously difficult, as you can’t link to pieces and directly prove that you were the one responsible for them. You will need to discuss with your clients if they are happy to provide a testimonial, but be warned that some may not be– they may want to keep the fact they use a ghostwriter a secret. If this is the case, you will likely need a few sample pieces that you can show to prospective clients to give them some idea of the quality you can produce.

Is ghostwriting lucrative?

It can be. Many ghostwriters are able to start their own business, obtain an online business loan to help with marketing and office supplies, and build a good income for themselves. They may even be able to expand and become a writing agency, employing other writers to assist with workload.

However, ghostwriting is no more and no less lucrative than any form of writing. You will still need a good portfolio, good marketing skills, and a commitment to the best work you can deliver. All writing can be lucrative, but you have to be willing to take the initiative and make that the case.

In conclusion

Ghostwriting is a viable career for those with an interest in writing, provided that you can live with the fact your work will never be directly credited to you. If you just want to write, then ghostwriting provides a way of achieving this without the pressure of writing under your own name.

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This article was written by Rebecca

Rebecca is a book coach and editor. She guides aspiring writers, coaches, entrepreneurs and speakers to become self-published authors so they share their expertise, knowledge and passion. Thinking about writing a book? Contact her today to start writing your book.

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