I am asked, far more frequently than I should be, to write “for” other people.
And I don’t mean, contribute to someone’s blog or website or magazine.
I mean, write something for someone else, give them the credit, and accept a paycheck.
I understand that there are many freelancers, especially those just starting out, who are OK with ghostwriting. A check is a check, after all. I’ve accepted plenty of jobs in the past that involved a lot of work without any credit — but they paid my way through grad school. I’m grateful to have had those opportunities when I needed them, when earning was honestly more important than credibility.
If you ghostwrite professionally, and you’re OK with that, cool. I’m not saying you’re doing something wrong. It works for you, and I’m glad you’ve found a way to write, earn a living, and be happy.
But I’m getting really tired of people emailing me, assuming I’m OK with doing hours upon hours’ worth of work while letting someone else put their name on it.
Sure, they sometimes have the courtesy to offer me monetary compensation. (I have nothing to say to those who do not — it’s disrespectful, and calling you out isn’t worth my time.)
But I just don’t understand why so many “writers” start blogs and websites and businesses, only to practically beg and plead other writers to, essentially, do their work for them.
Because even though other writers might have no problem doing this, it feels wrong to me. And I’m looking at this from both sides here, or I’m trying to.
Why would you ask someone who is clearly trying to establish themselves online — someone who has a public blog, public social media accounts, and a job writing for a media company with their own byline that matches their real name — to write something without putting their name on it?
Are you lazy?
Are you too “busy” to write your own content?
Do you not have enough experience or expertise in the niche you’re trying to establish yourself in, so you’re seeking out writers who do to cover your own butt?
The argument that you’re trying to grow your blog/business doesn’t convince me, because someone who truly cared about establishing an online community would seek out partnerships with other writers, and give them a byline or link in exchange for posting authoritative content on their site.
I’m sorry. I just don’t get it.
I’ve tried to be nice. I’ve tried to look at it from a different perspective.
But someone offering me money to do their work for them isn’t just disrespectful to me and my expertise. It’s insulting to my intelligence and the YEARS of work I have put into building credibility in my niche.
To make matters worse, most of the time, these “writers” aren’t even asking me to write about things I can expertly cover. They’re not even doing the minimal amount of research it requires to look at what I write about every single day, to see if it matches what they want me to cover for them.
I now refuse to respond to these emails. Again, they aren’t worth my time. Find someone who ghostwrites. Find someone who doesn’t care whether or not they get credit for their hard work. But stop asking me. I’ve spent enough of my life working my butt off and not getting the credit I deserved. I’m a real person with a real job and REAL CREDENTIALS. How dare you.
Thank you to all the aspiring and practicing writers out there who either do your own work or give your fellow writers the credit they are due for contributing to your efforts. You are good people.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.