Last updated: Wednesday 29th of June 2016
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What is a Ghost Writer and What Do Ghost Writers Do?

by Karen S. Cole

Ghost writers are writers for hire who take money but none of the credit for the work produced. The original writer, or author, is hiring the ghost as a freelance writer to produce copy writer work for a fee. The author takes all the credit for all the original work produced, including all the original writing produced by the ghost writer. The ghost, who is usually paid in advance of completing the job, gets the money as a "work for hire" job and assumes none of the credit for the ghost writing work.

This may sound odd, but it's a common practice. When someone wants to create new copy for a website, a ghost writer may be hired to rewrite it, and there are many similar jobs such as writing ad or business copy, or supplying new or rewritten material for personal or professional use. The ghost is hired primarily as a professional freelance writer, in order to produce high quality writing copy and so that the writing reads professionally. A paid professional freelance writer is often the only source to which to turn to get sparkling, well written website copy or other paid professional writing copy. And a ghost is hired to bring this about, either as an on staff writer or as a freelance writer who is paid specifically for the job at hand.

Ghost writers are also hired to write books for people. In such cases, the author of the book is the person who hires the ghost writer, and not the ghost, unless the book author wants to share some of the credit with the ghost. In this case, the ghost may be listed as a coauthor or as the "editor" of the book, and generally this is listed somewhere in the acknowledgments page. Sometimes the well known, "as told to -----" with the name of the ghost writer being mentioned is listed on the cover of the book. This is often the case when well known ghost writers are used by the books' actual authors.

Ghosts often work for very high sums of money, although with recent competition standards being set by third world countries such as India and China, and with bidding service agencies looking for the highest bidder on ghost writing projects, this is not always the case. But in many cases, a ghost writer will charge a fee of $10 to $25,000 to be the book writer hired by a book author to produce exceptional quality, sterling book writing over three to six months of working on the book. A ghost writer is hired for his or her quality of work, and not necessarily for his or her "name" as a book writer. But there are many kinds of deals which a ghost can "cut" with the book author in order to produce a fair deal for both parties when the contract is signed between the ghost writer and the book author.

For example, the ghost writer can take a lower fee in the case of a book which is very likely to sell widely and well, such as $10K paid in advance to write the book, a sum which can be paid all or partly out of a book advance. Then the ghost may take about 10-20% of the book's gross profits over time as it is sold, perhaps with a ceiling cap or highest amount the ghost is allowed to make from the book's gross profits. This method is only used when the book is nearly guaranteed to be published and to sell at high profits.

Also, the ghost can take a lower fee if credit is shared with the book author. Again, this is only suggested when the book is guaranteed to sell well or for some reason the ghost especially wants his or her name on the book as one of the book's authors, for reasons of prestige or other such needs. At any rate, it is up to the book author and the book writer to determine whether or not the ghost should take all his or her money as advance pay for a "work for hire" job, or if the book writer wants to share credit with the book author or to take a percentage of the book's gross profits over time as payment for the work.

However you slice it, the ghost writing business can be quite lucrative. In order to become a well paid ghost, you should have plenty of experience as a freelance writer, perhaps including some books published under your own name or years of experience writing website and other types of copy for businesses. You should be experienced as a freelance writer who has been paid regularly for your services, and then you may take on the career of becoming a paid professional freelance ghost writer. Even though the economy may be bad, there is always room in the writing profession for another freelance writer. And it can be a very lucrative career, once you know how to handle its ins and outs, and once you learn how to deal with your clients as a ghost writer should.

About the Author:
RAINBOW WRITING, INC. -- featuring Karen Cole, copy editor, ghost writer and book author -- FREE DOWNLOAD COMPUTER FIXER PROGRAM! We are also inexpensive professional freelance and contracted book authors, ghost writers, copy editors, proof readers, manuscript rewriters, coauthors, graphics and CAD artists, publishing helpers, and a website development services corporation. http://www.rainbowriting.com



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