Who hires a ghostwriter, for a book or speech or…?

January 28, 2015   Tags: , , , , 🕑 4 minutes read

Everybody knows that some people hire ghostwriters. But it might surprise you to discover who some of those “some people” are.

This might seem an odd question – “Who hires a ghostwriter?” – and yet there do appear to be some popular misconceptions about who hires a ghostwriter. Most people have a vague idea of who works with them, but few people are really aware of how widespread their services are.

Everybody knows that ghostwriters write biographies

The most popular view is that only famous celebrities use ghostwriters. For instance, many people are aware that a former President would be likely to hire a ghostwriter to write his memoirs for him.

And few people expect a sports legend to have a deft-enough command of the English language to pen a spell-binding account of his life.

As for actors and singers, many people are aware that they are too busy and usually not gifted enough in writing skills to create the engaging tell-alls that the world-at-large craves.

But celebrities are not the only ones who use ghostwriters to prepare their biographies. In fact, biographies are the single most-common writing query we get. And although we have written some minor celebrity biographies, the volume of queries is not due to a lineup of celebrities outside our door.

Ghostwriters for autobiographies

So who uses ghostwriters?

It might surprise you to know that many people have lived exciting lives building businesses, escaping from crime gangs, challenging the government, being falsely accused of a crime or overcoming a great personal challenge. Many people have intriguing stories of their own, and they come to us because we don’t charge the $50,000-$100,000 that a name-brand celebrity will pay for their autobiography.

But many people also come to us with requests to write a biography of somebody else, often a parent of grandparent with heroic war stories or tales of escaping from tyranny.

And sometimes people come to us to write biogapahies of people they admire or of the founder of their company. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if we are writing a personal biography or a company history, but that’s OK; in many cases, the two are too intertwined to pull them apart.

Hire a ghostwriter

Most people know that ghostwriters write speeches

When the President stands up to give his State of the Union Address, most people assume that the thoughts and ideas are his own, although most likely involving a lot of bartering and compromise with various political elites. But most people are also probably aware that a ghostwriter on staff has helped him find just the right words to convey both the meaning and the feeling he is trying to portray.

Similarly, when the President of Exxon or Wal-Mart or AT&T or General Motors stands up to address stockholders, few people assume that a busy person like that spent hours to carefully crafting his message and massaging the text.

But did you know that people like you and me also hire ghostwriters for speeches. When people are honored at awards banquets or are chosen to lead volunteer organizations or, most unnerving of all sometimes, are asked to serve as Best Man at their friend’s wedding, they don’t always know what to say, or how to say it best. Best Man speeches are among my personal favorite writing jobs.

Many online people know that ghostwriters write blog posts

Blogs come in all shapes and sizes, but most can be divided into two categories: those written by a blogger on his own behalf, for personal or professional purposes, and those written on a company’s behalf, where the individual blogger is of little matter.

I don’t think I have seen any individual hire a ghostwriter, but many companies do. A security company wants its staff focusing on security, not on blogging. A real estate brokerage wants its staff focused on property transactions not on blogging. They hire a ghostwriter to write their blog posts.

Did you know that some fiction authors hire ghostwriters to write their novels?

Probably not. In fact, I suspect that most people would be shocked and scandalized to find that their favorite author is not actually the writer. But there is a difference between being an author and being a writer. We get lots of fiction-writing queries from people who have developed intriguing plots and even created whole fantasy worlds…but they just can’t spin a story well enough to grip their audience.

Put it this way, suppose you were to find out that your favorite author was the story’s creator, but not the actual writer…would you rather that the story had never been brought to light? So, we ghostwrite fiction.

We have been hired to write humor and adventure and historical fiction and science fiction and fantasy and children’s stories and even stories that don’t easily fit into a category.

Anything can be ghostwritten

There are many other reasons to hire a ghostwriter, such as for a press release or a pamphlet. In those cases, nobody even distinguishes between “writer” and “ghostwriter”, since a name is not normally attached to the work. A ghostwriter can also write songs and plays and movie scripts.

Hire a ghostwriter

There is only one type of project we refuse to ghostwrite, and that is school assignments. Sorry, but we don’t do your homework for you. We refuse to cheat anybody out of an education, even you.

For any other project, we are happy to write, whether you take full credit or not. You don’t have to be famous. You don’t have to be addressing the Wall Street elite or paying $100,000 for a manuscript. You simply have to have something you would like written.

So, were you surprised to learn who uses ghostwriters?

About David Leonhardt

David Leonhardt is President of The Happy Guy Marketing, a published author, a "Distinguished Toastmaster", a former consumer advocate, a social media addict and experienced with media relations and government reports.

Read more about David Leonhardt

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  1. Irv Oslin says:
    at 7:37 pm

    Are there agents or agencies hiring proven, experienced writers to do this? I’m a retired journalist and might be interested, if the pay is reasonable.

    • David Leonhardt says:
      at 7:56 pm

      Hi Irv. Some ghostwriters work on their own, some work for agencies, some do a combination of the two.

  2. Luke Jordan says:
    at 1:13 pm

    Interesting post, David.

    I was waiting for you to call people out…call them out! Start some drama! You didn’t start the fire…

    Keep up the great work,


    • David Leonhardt says:
      at 3:17 pm

      Well, we’re not quite the National Inquirer. But I am sure that’s also been done.

  3. Jay Peters says:
    at 1:44 pm

    I’m on the fence about speaking with a ghost writer or hiring a psychiatrist. I have a story to tell about my life which I’m a bit nervous about sharing, but I’d like to help people as well as get things off of my chest. I’m hesitant about this and need to know that some good will come out of this and not hurt people that I care about, but I know I’m not alone in this situation I’ve endured (at least to some lesser degree). I have played to closely on the edge between life and death and I’m worried that my balance is getting worse. My story has to do with the dark side of Silicon Valley relating to the younger generations and the sacrifices that we have to make to remain sane (usually by going to extreme measures as a facade to balance the pendulum). It’s 6:31 am right now and have to fly half-way across the country today for work, so I should probably get some sleep. I’m scared that I even wrote this message. I will survive, but I’d like to tell the truth to someone. The Silicon Valley is destroying people from the inside out – and I’m one of the lucky ones.

    I know this is probably not the best outlet to share this, but I don’t care. Maybe someone here can point me in the right direction. Thanks!

    • David Leonhardt says:
      at 11:00 pm

      Hi Jay. Yes, I think you are right. This is not the best forum to get into to much details. But if you do want to0 go the ghostwriter route, please feel free to email me.

  4. Leverne says:
    at 6:02 pm

    Although I regularly ghostwrite for websites, I also hire content writers too. Sometimes I am too busy(or too lazy) to write myself so I just outsource. I find that when I hire writers, I always have to edit at least 20% of it but all that comes with the territory sometimes. I am in the process of writing an ebook and it is quite a daunting task. A ghostwriter is definitely the way to go sometimes.

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