I’ve been a ghostwriter for over fifteen years now and love it. However, I do get a variety of responses when people hear that I write books for others. Some people wonder if ghostwriting is ethical. Here’s a semi-typical conversation:
“So you’re telling me that you write the book, but someone else gets all the credit?”
“That’s right,” I’ll say with a polite nod.
“But how is that fair?”
“I’m fine with it. Really, I am.”
“But, is it really ethical?”
Now, that’s a good question, one worthy of a blog article.
Is ghostwriting really ethical?
I feel strongly that ghostwriting other people’s books is ethical, or I wouldn’t be in this line of work. The way I see it, I’m helping people achieve their dreams by getting their books published. If they can’t write the book themselves, why not hire someone to help them?
However, like all ethical questions, it is a personal judgment call. Even though I feel strongly about my opinion, I can also see the other viewpoint. In the end, you must decide if ghostwriter is an ethical choice for you.
Ghostwriters are everywhere
Maybe it would help to know that ghostwriting is a common practice. There are a lot of published authors who had help writing their books. Some just had a kernel of an idea then handed it over to a pro who wrote the book for them. It’s an accepted practice in this industry.
Plagiarism isn’t ethical
Now, if I wrote a book and someone came along and stole it, claiming it was theirs, that would be plagiarism. That’s definitely unethical and very illegal.
So, how is this different?
Well, for one thing, I always have a contract with my clients, an agreement right from the start that says that I will write their book for them, but that they will own all the rights to the book.
Other industry practices
This agreement is not unlike others that exist in various fields. For example, large companies hire employees to write software programs or design equipment for them, asking them to assign the rights to them once the project is complete.
On the flipside, some writers I know will not work as ghostwriters because they feel it isn’t right. Other authors will not put their name on a book unless they wrote every word themselves. I admire anyone who sticks with their integrity. Never be swayed by popular opinion.
How do you feel about this point? Is it ethical for an author to hire a ghostwriter to write their book for them? I’d like to hear your opinion! Please feel free to email me to discuss.
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