Do you write – among other reasons, hopefully – because you love seeing your name associated with something published?
You’re not alone: everyone gets a little thrill out of that. Which is why many writers flat-out refuse to even think about the possibility of ghostwriting.
Ghostwriting – writing something for someone else, which they then get to post as their own work (your name is not released) – has its pros and cons. It’s part of both fiction and article writing. in some ways, it’s good. In others, it’s not that great at all.
There are points in which ghostwriting is extremely freeing – fun, almost. There are also points in which you start to feel a little under-appreciated … invisible … betrayed …
Okay, so that’s a little dramatic. But seeing all your hard work published – without your name anywhere on it – sometimes doesn’t feel that great. At all.
Why do writers do this kind of work? The reasons are probably different for everyone. I’ll be completely honest with you: I started ghostwriting for websites because it was the first freelance job I got. I didn’t know any better. Once I found out I wasn’t getting “credit” if you want to call it that, I sort of just shrugged and kept writing. I’m in it for the experience. I’m in it for building relationships with clients. I’m in it to learn and, I guess, experiment a little with different styles. And yes – some months, I’m in it because of the paycheck (how many years have I been in school now? Eh …).
Does it get a little discouraging? Of course. I’ve written pieces I’ve been really proud of but haven’t seen or heard about them since I submitted the invoices. Technically, you’re doing a lot of work that someone else gets to take all the credit for. Is it worth it?
Absolutely. And not just because of the money, though especially in the beginning when you’re just trying to keep your head above water, that helps. Ghostwriting is basically lending your skills out to someone who either can’t do what you can or doesn’t have the time. Sometimes, if you want to look at it this way, you’re helping someone achieve a dream. Probably.
I personally will never ask someone else to write something that I will put my name on. Therefore, I can’t say I completely understand why over half of the job postings I come across on freelancing websites ask for ghostwriters (and even those that don’t often assume it’s an unspoken agreement, I’ve learned the hard way). But I’m not going to judge anyone regardless. A writer has valuable skills, and the fact that someone wants to pay you at all to do what you’re good at is a pretty worthwhile deal.
Sometimes, you just have to do the work knowing it won’t be published under your name. You have to let go of how that makes you feel personally – because it’s nothing personal. Business is business. If you’re not comfortable with that, don’t become a freelancer. There are plenty of other ways to get your work out there and make sure your name gets on it, and there’s not a single thing wrong with any of them (as long as you write your own stuff, etc., etc.). You know what you want out of a career in writing – at least, I hope you do. If not, you’ll figure it out along the way. But there is one thing you should keep in mind if you’re okay with taking on the role of a ghostwriter: Your work still matters.
It’s still important.
It still counts.
Just because no one is ever going to know you wrote it doesn’t mean you can’t still be proud of it.
It doesn’t mean you can’t still consider it an accomplishment.
Eventually, I’ll get to a point where I won’t be writing articles for other people without my credentials on them, because that’s important in the health writing space. And I may not be the best fiction writer, but I will admit, having an author page on Amazon is a pretty cool thing. If I can power through ghostwriting until I reach that point, so can you. And who knows? You may even decide you like ghostwriting better than letting everyone know who’s really behind the work.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.
Image courtesy of pixabay.com.