Why You Hate Ghostwriting (For All The Wrong Reasons)

Tom Popomaronis | November 12, 2021

Where were you when you first learned that ghostwriting was a real thing? You might have felt betrayed — what? The president doesn’t write his own speeches? How can I trust anything he says? What do you mean this celebrity didn’t write their own memoir? How is that even possible? 

The reality: Ghostwriting is widely leveraged as an effective resource to extract and preserve insights.

Executive Ghostwriting is one of our core services, and in speaking to over 1,000 executives, I’ve heard a wide spectrum of objections and the negative connotation “ghostwriter” has had. Naturally, it was something worth sharing:

“Tom, isn’t ghostwriting unethical?”

Ghostwriting can be a polarizing topic, but it’s important to remember that not all ghostwriting is created equal. There’s a big difference between writing a book and slapping someone else’s name on it and acting as a conduit for someone else’s thoughts. The latter is something that’s actually quite beautiful, and rather than feeling betrayed, perhaps we can feel a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to hear a person’s thoughts as they’re clarified through on-point writing.

Authentic ghostwriting is a marriage of the minds. One person’s skills in business, leadership, science, or literally any other topic do not translate to good writing — the kind of writing that makes you sit back in your chair and contemplate the universe. But writing is a critical medium for sharing important insights that we have gathered as our lives and careers have weathered us. When a ghostwriting partnership is done well, the author’s ideas should stand on their own two feet, only enhanced by the ghostwriter’s expertise.

“Tom, how can someone write for me when they know nothing about my field?”

Sometimes that’s actually a good thing. Why? Because a ghostwriter is an expert in communication, not physics or finance or nanotechnology. The deeper you get into your world, the harder it can be to translate those thoughts to the general public. Not everyone wants to be an expert in space travel, but many people have a general interest in the newest advancements in this field. If you put together an article so chock-full of jargon that your reader suddenly feels like they’ve made a mistake by clicking on it, you’ve lost your audience. And just like a tree falling in the woods, if no one reads it, was it really ever there to begin with?

Give a ghostwriter, who should have the baseline intelligence it takes to digest an intro course to anything, the chance to download your information and repackage it for someone who doesn’t live in your world. The chances that they’ll be able to reduce the reading level of your piece from post-grad to eighth grade (the target of most publications) is likely better than your own.

“Tom, why would I want to put my own name on someone else’s writing?”

One of the strangest things about ghostwriting is this question: But is it someone else’s writing?

A ghostwriter, when skilled in their craft, works to lose their own voice. Their top priority is to write something that would sound exactly like you wrote it. If they do that successfully, and you’re the one who provided all the ideas for the piece, who really wrote it? A proper ghostwriting partnership should allow the ghostwriter to fade into the background, similar to, well, a ghost. (Novel, right?)

“Tom, I don’t have anything to say.”

False. Some personalities are more apt than others to feel they have something to offer the world. Some naturally lead, teach, and evangelize wherever they go. But they’re not the only ones with important insights to offer.

In a good ghostwriting experience, the writer can extract thoughts latent in your mind — ones you weren’t even cognizant of. You may not be aware that simply telling tales of your hard-earned successes (and failures) could be a great inspiration to others, but a good ghostwriter can see these things and bring them to light. It is common for an author to read their first ghostwritten piece and feel like some sort of black magic has transpired, wondering how their thoughts and ideas got on paper in their own voice.

Tom, what’s your take on ghostwriting?

Ah, thanks so much for asking!

When you experience a well-engineered process with a ghostwriter, a world of possibilities reveals itself. The realization of being able to achieve content development at an efficient scale is exceptionally powerful. And that, my friends, is a story worth telling – you just have to see it for yourself.

EVP, Innovation
Tom is a serial entrepreneur, product development expert, and content management strategist. Every hour of every day (perhaps too many hours) he focuses on strategies for our Executive Leadership Branding clients to build a powerful and credible online reputation.