Ghostwriting, even as a concept, has always intrigued me.
Ghostwriting is when a writer writes for another person for a specific purpose- be it a speech or an article. The fact that the writer is called a ‘ghost’ writer in this context is evidently because the by-line belongs to the person the article or speech has been written for and not the author.
Ghostwriters may also be hired to proofread, edit and enhance copies.
Ghostwriters are usually hired by famous and highly influential people such as politicians and film celebrities. So if you saw your favorite actress on television, giving a beautiful speech while receiving an award at the award ceremony, you may want to give her credit for how she spoke but not exactly for what she spoke.
Ghostwriters are often involved in tremendous research work. For example, if a ghostwriter is asked to prepare a speech for a minister to deliver for his election campaign, a number of things have to be taken into close and careful consideration- the party’s image in the constituency, previous election results, the type of people he is going to communicate with, so that the speech is effective and addresses their most important concerns and finally, the personality and achievements of the minister. This way, the speech will be tailor-made to suit the given requirements.
Ghostwriting is mostly done by freelancers, to hone their skills as a writer and also get some valuable experience. But ghostwriting has become a profitable profession in the recent times. Ghostwriters are handsomely paid according to the work they do. The ghostwriter for Hillary Clinton’s memoirs received around $500,000 as fees.
However, I always wrack my brains over one pertinent question which pops up every time I think of ghostwriting as a profession- is any amount of money worth giving up my byline and the credit, the appreciation and the recognition that comes with it?
As a writer, every piece of write up I come up with is a result of my intricate research. Its beauty depends on how much of my valuable time I invest to handpick certain words and phrases and weave them together to create and convey meaning. Though the piece of writing may be read by thousands, interpreted by many and even criticized by people with contradictory views, yet the ideas I present remain mine, forever. But when its ghostwriting, my ideas, which essentially consist of my intellectual property, are sold and the readers or listeners are consequently deceived.
I strongly feel that ghostwriting is ethically wrong. Professionals in various fields often require writers to produce and edit content for them and we as people with the expertise and the skill to present everything in the most coherent, effective and comprehensible words can decide to work for them. But we deserve our due credits. If not a byline, we must at least have the freedom to rightfully ask for a mention. Value of writers can never be measured by the amount of money they make anonymously, only by the number of lives they touch.