Ghostwriting: Its Myths, Ethics, And Real Advantages

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Have you ever come across the term ghostwriting? You surely should know what it is especially if you were a student or if your life was in some way connected to the academic world. So what does the job of a ghostwriter really mean? Why is it so popular? Is it even ethical? For the purpose of those finding the term strange and new, let's start with a definition.

Definition of Ghostwriting and Why it is so Popular

What is ghostwriting

Ghostwriting is a very popular service among celebrities, executives, renowned politicians and the average person when they have to write or create some materials, either for personal or public use. A ghostwriter, often called a ghost, is a person who writes books, reports, stories, articles, texts, scientific publications, etc that are accredited to another person.

Ghostwriting is becoming increasingly popular – albeit discreet – because of the rise of the digital media and the growing demand for content. The ghostwriters are hired for different reasons; Most clients who hire ghostwriters are oftentimes busy entrepreneurs, creatives, renowned or public people who would ordinarily not have time or writing skills to write an autobiography of several hundred pages, an entire book or an indepth article, as the case may be. Even if a celebrity has the skills to write and do a short article, he may not know how to structure and write a long book that is commercially viable.

Academic ghostwriting: what is it

One of the most popular form of ghostwriting is academic ghostwriting. Needless to say, it is most common in the educational world among high school students, college and university students as well as postgraduate students. The writing pieces acquired from this type of writing services are limited to college essays, lab reports, thesis and dissertations. Those involved in the academic ghostwriting line include students, freelancers and essay writing companies; an example of which is essayhave.

According to a study, professors say 80% of students in universities use online writing services for their essays. The reason towards the spike in this trend in recent times is attributable to the burden of academic pressure put on each student, his lack of time, the need to meet deadlines and the sudden rise and rise of the internet.

While, the ethics and legality in the use of ghostwriting services for academic papers are constantly contested, even teachers and university professors are also beneficiaries of the services provided by academic ghostwriters (even though this is ethically wrong). Additionally, most members of academic staff also use academic ghostwriting platforms such as edubirdie, content-writely and more in plagiarism detection.

The role of the ghostwriter

A ghost writer can have varying degrees of participation in the completion of the works. They can review or edit an existing work or do most of the writing. They can even carry out an important part of the research in a given field.

Ghostwriters often spend a lot of time – as long as months or entire years – searching, writing and editing jobs for a client. Hirers pay ghosts in different ways: per page, with a flat rate, with a percentage of sales royalties or a combination of these. Depending on the complexity of the article, writing an article can cost $4 per word or around $100 per page, according to Lisatener.

The division of labor between the ghost and the credited author can vary widely. In some cases, the former may have to rearrange a draft or nearly completed manuscript. In this case, the general line, the ideas and much of the language used in the book or article are those of the author.

In other cases, the ghostwriter plays the most important role. He can elaborate and expand basic concepts and ideas provided by the accredited author. In this case, a ghostwriter will have to do extensive research on the author or his area of expertise. Celebrities and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to write or fix autobiographies, articles, speeches or other materials. In music, ghostwriters are used in classical music, in pop music such as country or rap and also in movie soundtracks.

Depending on the field of expertise, there are several types of ghostwriters. They are autobiographical ghostwriters, academic ghostwriters (for example, writers who work on sites such as edubirdie, Academized, UK Essays, Essay Pro, etc), fiction ghostwriters, business reports ghostwriters, blogging ghostwriters, medical documentation ghostwriter, speech writers, newsletter writers, and more.

Few myths and misconceptions about ghostwriting

Over the years, many things have been said about ghostwriting which are completely false or not totally true. Let's see some of the most popular myths and conceptions in the world of ghostwriting.

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Ghostwriters are always anonymous

In most cases (such as a writer providing services for a company with students' client-base such as essayshark) the ghostwriter doesn't get any recognition for the job. This is often spelt out prior to the award of the task. However, sometimes, the ghostwriter receives a partial recognition on a book, expressed by the shortened word 'con...' on the cover. This recognition can also appear in a thank-you message in the acknowledgement. For non-fiction books, the ghostwriter could be mentioned as a 'contributor' or 'research assistant'. In other cases, the ghostwriter does not receive official recognition for writing books or articles; in cases where the credited author or publisher or both wish to conceal the role of the ghostwriter, they may ask him to sign a non-disclosure agreement which prohibits him from revealing his role as a ghostwriter.

Ghostwriting is an act of plagiarism or cheating

According to the Merriam Webster's Dictionary, plagiarism is an act of stealing, passing off words or ideas of someone else as your own, or of using a production that is not one's own without giving credits to the source. In that case, ghostwriting is not an act of plagiarism in most cases as there are always some form of contribution (whether in idea or in direct input) of the owner of a ghostwritten work. When these are not the case, the ethics of ghostwriting ties to some considerations which we will see later in the article.

Ghostwriters write from thin air magically

This is not true. It is rare for a ghostwriter to prepare a book or an article without any instruction or information from the author; in the minimum case. The latter provides a basic structure of ideas or comments on the final draft of the ghostwriter. For an autobiography, a ghostwriter usually interviews the credited author, his colleagues, family members and searches for articles, interviews and videos (sometimes 'off the air') on the same author, to assimilate his arguments and points of view.

Were Shakespeare's plays ghostwritten

William Shakespeare is without a doubt, the greatest English playwright of all time. However, there are several theories about alternative authorship of the texts that are credited to the Bard of Avon. There are specialists and theorists in the literary world who claim that Shakespeare did not have artistic training – or have much less – as well as the appropriate sensitivity to write them. So, who could be the author who would have chosen to hide behind the mask of Shakespeare and why? Some argue that this ghostwriter was none other than Francis Bacon. Others point to the Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe and Edward de Vere.

Can it be that all those conflicts that have shown hundreds of scenes - Lady Ann seduced almost next to the coffins of her husband and her brother, the violent decision of Othello convinced by the intriguing lago, or the dialogues of Romeo and Juliet in the famous balcony of Verona - are not originally Shakespeare's?

Many suspect that all this baggage of dramaturgy did not completely belong to William Shakeare; that there were collaborations; that some of those titles are partially or totally apocryphal. And, as we know, there are no suspicions without foundations.

There are arguments that renowned authors, both ancient and modern, came together to create the figure of what would be the greatest impostor of literary history, the Swan of Avon. However, there is a funerary monument in Stratford that pays homage to Shakespeare using the famous name of Swan of Avon. This monument, made at the time of the death of the famous playwright, would endorse the fame that the author enjoyed in life. And if this is true, why the suspicion?

Conspiracy theorists of imposture as well as those consulted say that Shakespeare, given his poor education (he came from a humble home) and as a humble young man who came to London, being employed in tasks (such as taking care of theatre patrons' horses) that did not require any special intellect, could not have the knowledge that many of his works show.

Still, this doesn't hold water. There are hundreds of examples of artists who have overcome adverse conditions by doing works that have influenced universal art. Yes, the supporters of the conspiracy theory respond by saying these artists have left many traces of their performance, something that does not happen with 'Sakspere' - as they claim Shakespeare was originally spelled. They claim that Shakespeare was the mask of another character who for unknown reasons wanted to remain anonymous. Then, to whom must the authorship of such a demonstration of genius be safely attributed?

List of suspected ghostwriters of Shakespeare

Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere (1550-1604)

One of the persons most suspected to have been the author of most of the works attributed to Shakespeare is the poet, dramatist author of a large number of pieces and seventeenth Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere (1550-1604). He reportedly squandered his not-insignificant annual income. Therefore, he ended up immersed in poverty by giving up his rights to the Chamberlain company, an opportunity that Shakespeare, they say, could have taken advantage of. Vere met the artistic conditions that anti-Stratfordians do not find in Shakespeare.

Francis Bacon

One of the first ghostwriters, born at the beginning of the 19th century, was Francis Bacon. He is a famous philosopher, writer and politician, who became Chancellor of England. The reasons for suspecting him cover a broad spectrum. These reasons for suspicion rely on theories close to the Rosicrucian Freemason, to which the name 'William Shakespeare and Francis Bacon', when the letters are added, result in the number 33. This is a figure that has much connection with Freemasonry and other less esoteric arguments, which cannot be called fantasy a priori and refer to The Tempest. Another theory also says that Bacon might not have risen to the position he attained if people knew he wrote plays for public stage. Hence, Shakespeare became the front to protect Bacon's identity, and therefore, getting the credit.

Christopher Marlowe

There are other names that fall into the category of suspects, but we will end up with Christopher Marlowe, who in his brief life brightened the English theater. Known as the Marlovian Theory of Shakespeare, the confusion in Marlowe's existence give these theorists reasons to attribute him to the Shakespearean plays. Examples include the faking of his death in May 1593, the documents proving that he was a spy in the service of Queen Elizabeth and for his strange death which occurred in a supposed fight in which not everyone believes.

There are coincidences, situations and aftershocks which have attracted the attention of scholars. Other authors have been proposed by the followers of the conspiracy theory, but without getting a significant number of followers.

As far as the authorship of the most fascinating English dramas of all time (Shakespeare plays) is concerned, whoever the author or authors are, what gives immortality to these tragedies are the hundreds of characters that have been created. We should also not forget the scopes and sobs, the betrayals and the passions, the tears that will never stop pouring, the hands forever stained with blood and dreams, that for all eternity will be pale imitations of death.

Is ghostwriting ethical and legal

Beyond copyright laws, there are conflicting opinions regarding ghostwriting. In particular: is it an ethically correct concept or, on the contrary, should we consider it legally unacceptable?

Communications experts Cheryl Conner and David Gruder have thoroughly studied the issue of ghostwriting from an ethical point of view, starting from the importance that ghostwriting assumes in politics. Despite the ambiguity and the apparent negative characteristics of the profession, it has become part of the society in which we live, in such a radical way. The phenomenon that it causes us now seems completely natural.

Conner considers the double aspect of this phenomenon: on the one hand, ghostwriters are part of a brilliant idea, since there are business executives or political leaders who are excellent in what they do but are not great writers or speakers. Hence, ghostwriters can ensure what leaders wish to convey are really pleasant to reading or listening; on the other hand, however, the ethical question arises when the information produced by a ghostwriter is wrongly attributed to the person for whom that writer worked.

In this regard, many professional journalists and many communities adopt standard and strict criteria. Sometimes, for the aforementioned and other reasons relating to integrity, accuracy and others, ghostwriting is usually prohibited.

Some questions relating to ethics in ghostwriting

In the book, Ethics in Human Communications by Richard L. Johannesen, the author lists a short series of useful guidelines for establishing the ethics of ghostwriting.

  1. What is the intent of the communicator and what is the degree of public awareness of the audience on ghostwriting?
  2. Does the hirer use the ghostwriter to pretend to have communicative qualities that, in reality, he does not possess?
  3. Is the communicator obliged to use this process due to precise circumstances surrounding his job?
  4. In what proportion do the author participate actively in writing the messages? The more the owner contributes, the more ethical the process is,
  5. Does the credited communicator assume responsibility of the message he presents?

Finally, Johannesen believes that whoever owns the speech or text created by the ghostwriter should take responsibility for the truthfulness of the information he shares.


Ghostwriting has a lot of contributions to the academic world, politics, business world and literary field. However, the ethics of ghostwriting is a delicate issue. Generally speaking, it is always morally correct, on the part of those who communicate the discourse, to give credit, one way or the other, to the other writers involved.

Talking of author credits, since the original authorship of ordered essay papers from sites like domywriting and others cannot be given, then does it mean they pass for plagiarism, and hence, unethical? Many are of the view that this is not the case as ghostwritten contents are usually written from scratch with the input of the hirer's ideas and guidelines. Irrespective of the position – being a student, a CEO, a President or a speaker – the need for and concept of ghostwriting will always remain relevant.

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