There are some who feel that hiring a ghostwriter is somehow unethical unless the ghostwriter is given credit for his or her work. It is equated to cheating on an English exam or in some settings, lying. My question is this. If nobody’s grading the test, why should it matter who wrote it?
Ghostwriting: An Old and Honorable Profession
Ghostwriting is a profession that goes back centuries. There’s even discussion on whether Shakespeare’s works were ghost written by Sir Francis Bacon. Speech writers have been helping our presidents since the inauguration of George Washington. The writers behind the scenes rarely get credit, yet the individuals who have given them work haven’t been accused of being plagiarists.
And they shouldn’t be. As long as two individuals are willing to enter into a contractual arrangement where one does the work and another gets the credit, then ghostwriting provides someone with talent at capturing another person’s voice and shaping their ideas into words that get the message across a way to make an honest living.
GhostWriting: Time to Erase the Shame of Weak Writing Skills
Let’s face it. We still live in a world where those who can write well are considered smarter than those who can’t. It’s an unfair characterization.
Not every company CEO got to where he or she is because of writing skills. Often that position was earned through people skill, business sense and financial skills. When someone like this turns to a ghostwriter, they should not be labeled unethical.
I have a daughter with dyslexia. She communicates effectively verbally. She handles computer tasks well. Her people skills are excellent. Yet, writing remains difficult for her. Is it unethical for her to tell me what she wants me to write on her behalf and let me shape her marketing message? Remember, I’m not helping her write an English essay. I’m assisting her with written communications so her talents aren’t masked by poorly written communications.
Ghostwriting: Time to See It as a Service
Let’s face it. We all know that companies hire advertising agencies to help them develop marketing strategies. And once those strategies are developed no one expects the CEO or board of executives to write the advertising copy. They are involved in the decision making process and approve the final product. Yet, someone else does the work. No one accuses the company of being unethical for hiring an ad agency.
What is so different about hiring a ghostwriter? Someone with skills as a writer helps someone who doesn’t (or just doesn’t have time). Why shouldn’t hiring writers who know how to transform a collection of ideas into cohesive messages be ethical as well?
Is it wrong to pay for the kind of assistance that helps you be successful? If someone hires a career coach, they aren’t accused of being unethical are they?
The real question of ethics lies in whether the message being transmitted by the ghostwriter is authentic. Does it accurately reflect the message the non-writer wants to transmit through the ghostwriter? Then the basic requirement to remaining ethical has not been violated.