How and Why to Hire a Ghostwriter

By: Lauren Hauptman

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I am the CMO of a financial services company. I am the CFO of a bank. I am the head of a real estate firm. I am the CEO of an insurance company. I am the president of a college. I am the COO of a nonprofit agency.

I am all these things with some regularity. That is, I write as if I were. I am Lauren the Friendly Ghostwriter. (If you’re too young for the reference, read about Casper the Friendly Ghost. He’s lovely.)

How ghostwriting works.

I write blog posts, articles, LinkedIn posts, tweets, employee communications, and various other materials. I write in someone else’s voice, in someone else’s tone. I mine their expertise, usually — preferably — gleaned from in-depth interviews.

That said, sometimes I never even talk to the person whose identity I am wearing. I get direction and background from one of their minions, I put on a new figurative (and, truth be told, sometimes literal) hat, and I write as I think they would write — if they had the time, the inclination or, yes, the skill.

I am a professional writer. By and large, my clients are not. They do what they do well, and they let me do what I do well. My clients’ names appear on my work, and I am okay with that. I have written for many years under my own byline. While it still sometimes gives me a little thrill to see my name in print (or, less so, online), I’m happy to lend my talents under their names.

[Related: The Best Success Tip I Ever Learned: Go Do It]

Why use a ghostwriter?

In The Truth About Ghostwriting, the unnamed(!) author suggests you ask the following questions if you are thinking about hiring a ghostwriter:

  • Do I have the time to devote to writing and proofreading this project?
  • Do I have the discipline to write this material in an efficient manner?
  • Do I have the skill to professionally communicate my ideas in written form?
  • Do I enjoy the writing process?
  • Do I have the skills necessary to research and conduct interviews on this topic?
  • Do I have the budget to hire a quality ghostwriter?

You’ll find your overall answer pretty quickly.

Live by my mantra: Why do yourself what you can afford to pay someone better skilled to do for you? It’s especially appealing when you get all the credit anyway.

[Related: Are You Book-Worthy?]

Is ghostwriting ethical?

For many years, I struggled with the ethics of writing as someone else. I believed that if someone has something to say, they should say it themselves. But, as I’ve spent the past large part of my career as a freelance writer-for-hire, my view has evolved.

Why force someone to do what they don’t want to do? Or maybe even can’t do? Putting various “content” out in the world is no longer optional. A senior executive has skills in running their business, not necessarily in writing about it. That’s where I come in.

Did you think the person you follow for insights on LinkedIn writes her own posts? Maybe she does. Or maybe I do. That great article you read on your favorite online pub? Was it him, or was it me? As long as it’s well-written and authentically expressed, I say it doesn’t matter.

Can I show you samples of my ghostwriting work? Nope. That would defeat the purpose.

You can’t see me. You’ll never even know I was there.

[Related: The Ultimate Marketing Tool: How to Birth, Publish, and Market Your Book]

Lauren Hauptman provides editorial and creative services through Lauren Hauptman Ink. A seasoned communications professional with two decades of publishing, marketing-communications, and fundraising experience in a variety of environments, she is a versatile editor/writer/designer with a sense of style and extensive experience. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and her crazy dog, Ezra.

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