Lying & Writing: The Weird World of Ghostwriting
Ghostwriting hasn’t only expanded my skills, it’s imbued me with the greatest asset a freelance writer can possess— adaptability.
This article is only half of a whole. I’m teaming up with Gwenna Laithland to share some of our experience working as freelance ghostwriters. Please click the link below to read her story.
Nearly two years ago, I decided to transition into freelance writing as a way to supplement my income and gain more experience as a writer. I’d been writing as a hobby for most of my life but getting paid for my work was something I was eager to explore.
While I possessed ambition in abundance, I quickly discovered that getting my foot in the door was a challenge. While I had identified my niches and created a series of appropriate samples, my lack of experience dealing with clients proved to be a liability.
My first official freelance gig was a disaster. It was the result of a client who didn’t know what they needed, and my nativity at how the freelance process worked. Following this experience, I made the decision that I wanted to get more client relations under my belt, but do so in a way that wouldn’t jeopardize my reputation as a writer.
Ghostwriter? Wasn’t that a TV show in the 90s?
It was with this desire in mind, that a fellow freelancer suggested ghostwriting to gain more experience and expand my range as a writer. In all honesty, however, I wasn’t really sure what ghostwriting was beyond a corny teenage-oriented mystery PBS series I loved as a kid.
When the concept was properly explained to me, I was leery. Like many writers, I thought it was dishonest and I questioned the ethics behind it. To me it seemed disingenuous like a college student hiring a third-party to write an essay for them.
Yet as Gwenna stated in her story, bills needed to be paid, food put on the table, and a roof kept over my head. I decided to take the plunge and try a bit of ghostwriting.
Variety is the spice of life
The most frequent stereotype about ghostwriting is that it’s limited to writing a book for someone else who treats it as their own. While that does it exist, the truth is that in our digital age ghostwriting has become so much more than that.
Social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, and, yes, even porn sites hire writers to provide content. Celebrities, politicians, educational institutions, and companies large and small are just a few of a vast range of employers in need of writing services.
The range of my ghostwriting is extensive. I have to admit that I do have legal agreements in place with most of my ghostwriting clients where neither party can publicly reveal our collaboration. This is meant to protect both my client’s and my own brand.
With ghostwriting, I’ve written about topics that I had no clue about before I was hired to write about them. I’ve written everything from a blog about women’s lingerie to form emails for a library. I’ve written about the top selling condom brands in the United Kingdom, and written brief movie reviews for an entertainment site. The sky is the limit.
Ghostwriting means keeping on your toes and being able to change your writing style on a dime. Writing about lingerie encourages a more seductively sexual tone, while reminding a patron that their books are overdue is less erotic and more straightforward.
Ghosting has honed my ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Every job is different, and I’ve experienced a great deal of enjoyment from learning about topics outside of the niches I’m comfortable with.
If I’m being totally honest, my ghostwriting gigs can be more leisurely in nature than my regular freelance gigs. If building client rapport in traditional freelancing is something akin to a serious relationship, ghostwriting is more like a hot and heavy one night stand.
Dollars and cents
One of the most shocking things I’ve come to learn about ghostwriting is that on average I’m paid more to ghostwrite compared to regular freelance work. I put this down to the fact that occasionally the topics covered by ghostwriting are areas that not all writers would be comfortable talking about. Let’s just say that a portion of the ghostwriting market is adult in nature.
While ghostwriting might not be ideal for all writers, there is a value to it. It has allowed me to continually redefine my writing style and expand my knowledge. It has presented me with the opportunity to interact with clients across a wide range of niches. I’ve developed better writing reflexes to instantly recognize what is needed to do my job correctly. Ghostwriting has given me many of the benefits of freelancing but with fewer overall risks.
For the moment I’m happy, my clients are happy, and my bank account is happy. Yes, perhaps there is a debate to be had about the ethics of anonymity, but for me ghostwriting has been the best of both worlds.
Daryl Bruce is a freelance writer, blogger, and writer of flash fiction. Writing across an expansive range of topics, he specializes in personal development, the craft of writing, LGBTQ+ issues, and politics. He is the owner of the Top 3 Publication on Medium. When he’s not writing, Daryl can be found in the kitchen or at the local movie theater. Daryl holds a BA with Specialized Honours in English from York University and is currently working on his first novel.
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