This post is just my opinion on the topic of ghostwriting.
There are two main reasons I can see someone using a ghostwriter.
1. You have a story idea or know a nonfiction subject matter really well, BUT you aren’t good at communicating those thoughts through writing.
Some people have a ton of great ideas, but their strength just isn’t in presenting it in written form. Communicating through the written word is a craft that comes more easily to some people than others. This isn’t to say you can’t learn the craft. You can. But sometimes it’s not practical to devote the time and effort needed to learn a craft. It could be that you’re better off using that time and effort into something else that is a strength for you already. A ghostwriter can assist in this area by taking the burden of that job off of your hands.
Going along with the idea of writing not being someone’s strength, let’s say that you also hate writing. To you, it’s a chore you’d rather not deal with. You don’t have the desire to even learn the craft. But you still have some ideas that you’d like to offer the world in written form. Maybe you’re a great speaker, so you can give online presentations and give public speeches, but you also want to have your material available in written form for people who’d rather read it. In this case, a ghostwriter can be a good thing.
2. It’s best for your business.
There’s a growing trend in the indie writing community that involves the use of ghostwriters. Indie publishing has done away with the myth that excellent writers can’t write fast. A lot of them do. But even a fast writer needs a break. People aren’t machines. They can’t write all the time. The human brain needs time to relax. So writers who rely on their writing income to make a living might find it necessary to hire ghostwriters.
Earlier this week, I saw a posting for ghostwriters wanted. This was specifically for the romance genre, and the ghostwriter would be expected to write about a certain word count a week and had to be able to commit to writing an entire series for the author who hired them. The ghostwriter would have to agree to receive no credit for the work.
I think we’re seeing a growing need for ghostwriters in the indie community because of the increased pressure authors feel to get more and more books out. And the fact is that some retailers reward a rapid publishing schedule. The quicker you can get books out, the better your chances are of making more money. Also, I hear a lot of romance readers say they read 1-2 books a day. I can see how speed gets rewarded with money. The more books an author puts out, the more money they usually make. And if this author has done a great job of building up a fan base, then it makes sense to put out as many books as possible.
We can argue the ethics of a fiction writer using a ghostwriter all day long, but my point is that if you’re a business-minded person, you’re going to do what is best for your business. The truth is, it is harder to sell books if you’re writing at a slower pace AND if you don’t write to market. I’ve been tracking financially successful romance authors for years now, and it’s become clear to me that to better your odds of making money, you need to get books out quicker AND write to market. Right now, I’m seeing authors producing a book or two a month. Some do it more frequently than that.
I think a wise author is going to utilize the help of a quality ghostwriter to maintain this kind of production because if the author doesn’t, the author risks doing serious harm to their health, their sanity, and/or their relationships. The human mind was not created to act like a machine. It requires breaks. Our minds are connected to our bodies, so it’s best to take care of both. If you don’t give yourself time to rest, something is going to give.
Just the other day I was watching a You Tube video where this very issue came up, and I think it’s worth listening to. I’m linking to it below. Sarra Cannon mentions an author she knows who ended up in the hospital due to major fatigue and burnout. This is a good moment to reflect on the dangers of pushing yourself to write too much to often. Start at 14:56 and goes through until 16:10 to hear her warning. (If you want to listen to the other stuff she has to say, feel free. It’s a great video.)
When you take care of yourself, you’re taking care of your business.
The reason I can see someone not using a ghostwriter.
To help give this blog post some balance, I will add a thought on why a writer should not get a ghostwriter.
I’m the kind of writer who needs the story to be exactly the way I want it to be. This is why I went into self-publishing to begin with. I wanted 100% control over my story. I didn’t want a publisher coming in and telling me to change anything.
A ghostwriter is providing a service, but they are the ones creating the story. Even if an author gives them the idea, they’re executing it, and in my experience, two people can start with the very same idea (say a plot where a father is forcing his daughter to get married to someone she doesn’t want). Regardless of the fact these people are using the exact same plot idea, the two will produce two different stories. There might be some similar points along the way, but in the end, the story is unique because the creative mind takes all kinds of twists and turns along the way.
Characters evolve as the story is being told, and what one character does for one author, another character one won’t for the other author. That’s because each person writing the book is coming at the plot idea with two distinct personalities, two distinct backgrounds, and two distinct likes/dislikes. The subconscious mind takes over the creative process in subtle ways. That’s why you won’t get the same exact story from the same plot idea.
That’s the beauty of storytelling, and it’s why I love it so much. I never know what will happen. Each story starts out as a blank map that is filled in along the way. Granted, I don’t plot first, but I imagine even when a writer sits down to plot, they don’t know everything that’s going to happen when they start plotting on a blank piece of paper. That stuff usually gets filled in as the story comes together in the writer’s mind.
So if I were to tell a ghostwriter, “This is my idea, and I want Character A to be like this and Character B to be like this,” I doubt the ghostwriter would write the exact story I want, and I would not be happy with the story. I would have to rewrite the story so that I’m satisfied with it. If that’s the same case with you, a ghostwriter probably isn’t good for you, and it’s a good reason not to use one.