3 ghostwriting misconceptions from a professional book ghostwriter of 20 years. 

“The trouble with the world is not that people know too little; it’s that they know so many things that just aren’t so.” 

Mark Twain (attributed to)

In my career travels over the years as a professional book ghostwriter, I’ve identified a few misconceptions about ghostwriting. Here are 3 big ones I’ve come across.

Ghostwriting Misconception #1: Ghostwriting is simply slapping your name on a book that somebody else wrote while you went on vacation to your own private island. 

I can’t speak for other ghostwriters, but ghostwriting for me is a collaboration every step of the way – two brains, two voices, two sets of ideas becoming one. The ghostwriter is the one that organizes the author’s ideas and applies writing fundamentals and technical skills to bring those ideas to life for readers. The ghostwriting collaboration with clients is a two-way street. It has a specific creative energy and both parties are really co-creating the book together. 

Ghostwriting Misconception #2: All celebrity books are written by ghostwriters. 

False. I’ve found that people who have big ambitions and ideas but are low on time, including high profile personalities, tend to appreciate the value of a ghostwriting collaboration. Putting their faith in others to make big projects happen together is something that comes naturally to the highly ambitious crowd – so yes, this includes celebrities. And many of those “celebrity” books you see on the shelves were penned 100% by the celebrity. Just like with all clients, it depends entirely on the author and what sort of relationship works best for their needs.

Ghostwriting Misconception #3: Book ghostwriting is simply a matter of doing an extended recorded interview (or interviews) with the client and then editing the transcript of the recording into a book. 

This is far from the truth and the idea of it does a massive injustice to the craft of writing. Yes, I record interviews with clients – actually all of my clients, ghostwriting, book coaching, and otherwise and for a variety of reasons. But in ghostwriting, the purpose of recording is to capture the content and style of communication, not to simply glue together the actual words from the interview and call it a book. That’s not a book I would be interested in reading. A transcript of the spoken word is not a book.

What questions do you have about ghostwriting a standout book that readers can’t put down?

Related Articles:

Lessons From Celebrity Ghostwriting

Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

The Tortoise and the Hares (Writing Core Values)


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