The ethics of ghost-writing


Nail Your Novel

282428943_322a2027b4_oThis week I was pulled into a discussion on Facebook about ghost-writing.

It began when novelist Matt Haig wrote an impassioned opinion in which he lamented the number of books whose true authors were not acknowledged, which kicked off a wide-ranging and emotional debate. One commenter introduced the term ethics and asked me to talk about ghost-writing from that perspective. As that’s far too long and gnarly for a Facebook comment, I thought I’d explore it in a post. Here goes.

What ethical considerations might there be? Looking through the discussion, they seemed to be:

  • Is it dishonest to pretend that anybody could write a book?
  • Does ghost-writing devalue the contribution of real writers, or appreciation of their skill, especially when so many genuine writers struggle to get published?

I’m going to tackle this in a roundabout way, and first, I think we have to be practical.

Writing is like…

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8 thoughts on “The ethics of ghost-writing

    • Very true. I couldn’t do that in good faith. My only experience was to take someone’s writing who spoke English as a second language and put their book into American English. More of an editing job than ghost writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve done a lot of ghost writing in the past ten years. That’s how I started out. There are a lot of people out there with great ideas who just lack the wordsmith skills. Unfortunately there are also a lot of people out there in positions of authority who have neither the writing skills nor good ideas, or so I’ve learned. I tell my husband all the time never to believe anything he sees on the Internet. Freelancers writer a lot of the articles experts claim to write with no input from them aside from the title of the article. So much for their expert advice…

        Liked by 1 person

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