I am the CMO of a financial-services company. I am the CFO of a bank. I am the head of a real-estate firm. I am the CEO of an insurance company. I am the president of a college. I am the COO of a nonprofit agency.
I am all these things with some regularity. That is, I write as if I were. I am Lauren the Friendly Ghostwriter. (If you’re too young for the reference, read about Casper the Friendly Ghost. He’s lovely.)
How ghostwriting works
I write blog posts, articles, LinkedIn posts, tweets, employee communications and various other materials. I write in someone else’s voice, in someone else’s tone. I mine their expertise, usually — preferably — gleaned from in-depth interviews.
That said, sometimes I never even talk to the person whose identity I am wearing. I get direction and background from one of their minions, I put on a new figurative (and, truth be told, sometimes literal) hat, and I write as I think they would write — if they had the time, the inclination or, yes, the skill.
I am a professional writer. By and large, my clients are not. They do what they do well, and they let me do what I do well. My clients’ names appear on my work, and I am OK with that. I have written for many years under my own byline. While it still sometimes gives me a little thrill to see my name in print (or, less so, online), I’m happy to lend my talents under their names.
Why use a ghostwriter?
In The Truth About Ghostwriting, the unnamed(!) author suggests you ask the following questions if you are thinking about hiring a ghostwriter:
· Do I have the time to devote to writing and proofreading this project?
· Do I have the discipline to write this material in an efficient manner?
· Do I have the skill to professionally communicate my ideas in written form?
· Do I enjoy the writing process?
· Do I have the skills necessary to research and conduct interviews on this topic?
· Do I have the budget to hire a quality ghostwriter?
You’ll find your overall answer pretty quickly. Live by my mantra: Why do yourself what you can afford to pay someone better skilled to do for you? It’s especially appealing when you get all the credit anyway.
Is ghostwriting ethical?
For many years, I struggled with the ethics of writing as someone else. I believed that if someone has something to say, they should say it themselves. But, as I’ve spent the past large part of my career as a freelance writer for hire, my view has evolved.
Why force someone to do what they don’t want to do? Or maybe even can’t do? Putting various “content” out in the world is no longer optional. A senior executive has skills in running their business, not necessarily in writing about it. That’s where I come in.
Did you think the person you follow for insights on LinkedIn writes her own posts? Maybe she does. Or maybe I do. That great article you read on your favorite online pub? Was it him, or was it me? As long as it’s well-written and authentically expressed, I say it doesn’t matter.
Can I show you samples of my ghostwriting work? Nope. That would defeat the purpose.
You can’t see me. You’ll never even know I was there.
Lauren Hauptman provides editorial and creative services through Lauren Hauptman Ink. A seasoned communications professional with two decades of publishing, marketing-communications, and fundraising experience in a variety of environments, she is a versatile editor/writer/designer with a sense of style and extensive experience. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and her crazy dog, Ezra.