Is ghostwriting cheating?

A few months back, I sent a survey to my newsletter list asking about their biggest marketing struggles. One of my favorite responses raised legitimate concerns on hiring a ghostwriter. Let’s talk about these concerns and help shed some light on hiring a ghostwriter for your business, shall we?

Hiring a ghostwriter concern #1: Isn’t it cheating?
This particular person said, “If I am allegedly the specialist in the area, isn’t it cheating to ask someone else to do it for me?” In a nutshell: no.

Why? Because the ideas are yours. Let’s back up a minute and talk briefly about what happens when you work with a ghostwriter.

You will:
• Have a conversation with the ghostwriter to brainstorm ideas and relay the main points you want to cover in the article/book/etc.
• Review their work and possibly add a few tweaks to insert more of yourself into the piece.

You won’t:
• Just tell the ghostwriter to write whatever they want while you sit back and take credit.

Ghostwriters aren’t mind readers. And since they most likely aren’t an expert in your field (like you are), they need your guidance. The beauty is that they can take that guidance (in the form of a phone conversation, short email, bulleted list, etc.) and use their gift of writing to transform your thoughts into a well-written message that will impress readers and cause them to want to learn more about you.

Hiring a ghostwriter concern #2: Where do I find the time to work with a ghostwriter?
As mentioned above, getting your message to the ghostwriter to polish and perfect doesn’t have to take a lot of time. In most cases, you can call your ghostwriter for a quick phone chat to go over the main points you’d like to cover, or you can shoot off an email with a few points. Heck, you can even write it down on a napkin and fax it over if you want (and your ghostwriter agrees)! The point is that you don’t have to be structured or neat when you’re getting ideas across to your ghostwriter; it’s her (or his) job to take your ideas, however jumbled they may be, and turn them into writing that your audience can understand (and appreciate!).

Hiring a ghostwriter concern #3: How do I know if the ghostwriter is right for me?
Yes, it’s okay to interview the ghostwriter and of course, you can ask for samples of their previous work. Keep in mind, though, that their previous work was probably tailored to the voice of that client, and that the writing they do for you will most likely be completely different. With that in mind, don’t pay attention to the tone of the article (informal, chatty, etc.) and watch instead for the quality of writing. Ask yourself the following questions:

• Does their writing make sense?
• Does the piece flow well?
• Is it interesting to read?

Once you find the right ghostwriter for you, hold onto her…a ghostwriter who “gets” your writing style and writes in a way that impresses and compels potential customers can be worth her weight in gold (literally)!

What are your thoughts on hiring a ghostwriter? Have you ever worked with a ghostwriter? What has your experience been? Please share!

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