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Earn a Living as a Ghostwriter

Updated on December 4, 2012
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Website developers may not have the time, expertise, or the writing skill to keep up with their website’s content demands. Enter—the ghostwriter.

My good friend who works as an editor for a major publishing house once revealed to me that up to 70% of books written each year are authored by ghostwriters. Sometimes the ghostwriter is credited as a contributor or researcher by the official author, but most of the time their identities are never disclosed.

Many book series are written by a string of ghostwriters, such as Nancy Drew Mysteries , under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene . Each contributor of the book series captured the same writing style, formula, and kept the main characters’ personalities intact.

Many famous people have hired ghostwriters to create an autobiography or a collection of their memoirs. Ghosting for celebrities has been in practice since, well… since celebrities. Writers have typed, organized, and consolidated hours of recorded memories from the famous— while remaining anonymous.

Political figures have used writers over the years to edit their biographies, write speeches, email responses and maintain public blogs. Even famous newscasters on major television use ghost bloggers for their correspondence.

The Hidden Author

Not all ghosting opportunities are for writing books. Online content that is clear and concise has become invaluable to businesses in an effort to make their products and services well known. High quality articles provide an eternal stream of new customers in their quest for information. Some of the hottest assignments are:

1. Writing text for websites

2. Contributing to blogs

3. Expert articles for online magazines

4. Editing and cleaning up rough drafts

5. Researching reports or research studies

You may write under a business name, or a standing author name (that may not exist), that has gained some notoriety in a certain realm. If you’re commissioned for a book in a string, you will write under the name designated for that series.

Choosing to Collaborate

Any assignment you accept from a client will involve some form of collaboration. If working one-on-one, it is important to feel you can work with the client. If your employer has little background in writing, he/she may have unrealistic expectations of the final project. For example, if they want several exclusive articles in a few days, you need to clarify the quality, length, and so on. Don’t take an assignment from anyone you don’t want to work with. It is not worth the possible dent in your reputation, or your valuable time. Listen to your inner voice.

Listen to Your Client’s Voice

Your client has a vision of what he/she wants from the finished work. It is paramount you comprehend what your client wants from the project. The better you communicate, the less rewrites you’ll do, and the lower stress you’ll experience. Ensure you are both in agreement on the audience, length, and overall feel of the project. If your employer has written articles in the past, read them and try to match their style and tone.

Learn How to Use Keywords

Website developers use your high quality content to gain traffic to their webpages. Search engine optimization (SEO) is using keywords in an article to rank high on the main search engines. The keywords are simply an estimation of what people will search for to find your article. For example, if you search the keywords, “How to cook,” you get about 807,000,000 articles in the results. The competition is way too high to get your article on the first page. However, “How to cook on a grill,” results about 1,801 articles. This gives you a much better chance of ranking high on the very first page.

Google Keyword Tool

Apply for Great Ghostwriting Jobs

Check out the endless resources on the web for great writing opportunities, or start your own webpage offering your services. There is plenty of work for everyone.

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    • Rae-LeighDawn profile image

      Rae-LeighDawn 2 years ago

      Thanks, very encouraging.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Pamela, I really appreciate and value your comments. I do a lot of freelance, mostly on health topics, but I had to learn how to write for an audience, not a bunch of stiff academics. Ghost writing has really taught me how to do that. See you soon!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      This is a good suggestion and an interesting topic. Your tips will help anyone become successful. I like doing freelance writing some of the time as long as it is a topic where I have some interest. Very well written hub.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      You are a really busy guy, Rajan. I know, you need more hours in the day. Thanks for your comments and I am always happy to see you. See you soon!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Really interesting and very useful information, Deborah. Unfortunately, I have the inclination but not the time.

      Voting it useful and interesting.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 4 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi Rfordin, you may be credited for your contributions to the book. It may be a byline on the cover or just an honorable mention in the Forward. Or, you may not be credited at all, of course you'd have to discuss this with the person hiring you. It's hard for some people to work so hard and not receive credit, or you could look at it as a way to make money and support what you really want to do. Good luck to you and I love your hubs!

    • Rfordin profile image

      Rfordin 4 years ago from Florida

      I may be in the market for a ghost writer here soon. A friend of mine is writing a book series and has asked me to look/edit it. I'm not 100% comfortable with this job/long daunting task so I may look to set her up with someone else. Im curious tho, do you know how the material someone shares with a ghost writer would be copy righted? Or proteced from the ghost writer? Is a simple...you own no rights contract key? Just curious as your hub got me thinking about anothe rproject on my list.

      Thanks for sharing. Voted useful!!!

      ~Becky

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Perspycacious, yes it's true, 70%, and hubpages are a great way to gain experience and show off your talent. Thanks for the vote up and I appreciate your comments.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      70% by X% of writers! That would be even more shocking. Breaking in to ghost writing would seem to be the key, and using your writings on HubPages could be a good referral for such jobs, provided you maintain high quality on HP. Up, Useful, Awesome, Interesting.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Sonny, appreciate the vote!

    • sonnyhodgin profile image

      Sonny Hodgin 5 years ago from Indiana

      70% huh? That's shocking! Good post, voted up!

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Excellent Keith, you can do it!

    • Keith Ham profile image

      Keith Ham 5 years ago from Niagara Falls, Ontario

      Thanks for your kind words, perhaps when I'm done mulling about on my own projects I'll give it a shot.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hi Keith, I bet you are good enough to ghost write. Writing is like eating with a knife and fork, it just takes practice and I am always learning. You can do whatever you want, you just have to give it a try. I hate rejection, but I am getting confidence with every acceptance, and the rejects don't look as bad lately. Give a shot, you can do it.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello RippleMaker, I am so proud that my hub was nominated, I am loving hubpages! I agree with you, I would want my name on my book. Even my pen name is my name, so to speak. It's no problem for me with articles, even short stories, but I don't know if I could spend all that time writing a book and giving up the credit. Thanks for much for the congrats, and the link. I didn't know how or if I could vote for someone's hub. Thanks again.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      This is a good idea to earn online! I am wondering though if one has to write a book, would the ghost writer not yearn for his/her name to be acknowledged instead? Just wondering ... :)

      Congrats on your Hubnuggets nomination! Do click this link http://pattyinglishms.hubpages.com/hub/HubNuggets-... to participate! Have a great time with the Hubnuggets!

    • Keith Ham profile image

      Keith Ham 5 years ago from Niagara Falls, Ontario

      I honestly wish I could ghost write, if only I was good enough to do so. Maybe I am, I haven't actually wrote a book to say so!

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you for your kind comments Lotus. By the way, your profile pic is too cool! I thought I'd share my recent experience with ghostwriting. Thanks for the vote up!

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks for the suggestions! Nicely organized and very helpful. Rated up and useful.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      You are so welcome lilmama, I'll have a list of links soon. Thank you for your comments.

    • profile image

      lilmama4273 5 years ago

      A very good hub. I will have to looking into this information. Thanks.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Xstatic, I started doing a little ghosting, and I wasn't as afraid as I thought I'd be. It's actually fun. Thanks for stopping by. See you soon.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Good information! This should help freelancers find new outlets.

    • eHealer profile image
      Author

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thank you Girishpuri, I appreciate all your work as well.

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      very good suggestions and tips, voted up