Are Authors Who Hire Ghostwriters Truly Authors?


Read any letter from a CEO, university president, government official, celebrity, or athlete, and you can bet a ghostwriter wrote it. Be it their lawyer, agent, or PR assistant, it’s safe to assume someone else constructed it.

That’s why public statements and apologies from celebrities or university presidents often come off as cold, without a unique voice, and downright boring to the reader.

If you’re a CEO talking about company profits, this is fine because you want your letter be concise and to the point. But that’s not fine as an author, who has a different purpose and agreement with the readers.

A successful author’s goal is to provide value in the form of information or entertainment to the reader. The relationship and communication from author to reader is built on trust that the name on the book is who wrote it.

If you represent the idea that you wrote a book, you better have done it.

The Problems With Hiring Ghostwriters

My finger isn’t pointed at the people who collaborate their ideas with a ghostwriter and write the book together. Some people are bad writers so they verbally record their material and have the writer put it into written form. At least this represented author is creating the content, as it should be.

My problem is with those who pay for a ghostwriter to write a book and then the represented author takes it as their own book without creating any material and without disclosing what happened. That’s wrong and here’s why.

The first problem with hiring a ghostwriter and claiming you wrote it is that it breaks the reader’s trust and deceives an unknowing audience.

Without giving a ghostwriter co-author status or disclosing it to your readers, of course they’re going to assume that you wrote it. Hiring a ghostwriter takes advantage of the reader’s trust. That’s a terrible mistake if your goal is to build an audience and become an authority.

Paul Magee feels similar:

“As a reader, I lose respect for someone who used a ghostwriter. There are plenty of people I admire who have had writers do the technical job of writing their books for them, but they tend to be given “co-author” or similar status. To not give credit is to pretend you did it, which shows a lack of character in my eyes.”

Also, there’s no way a ghostwriter can capture the unique voice, experience, humor, and personality better than the real person. And because of that disconnect, even if the ghostwriter is talented and makes it look natural, the writing loses flavor.

The book is a little off as the ghostwriter tries to impersonate someone else’s voice. There isn’t that same passion in the words because the ghostwriter doesn’t possess it. A copycat is never as good as the real thing.

Lastly, the consequences of hiring a ghostwriter to write material that isn’t yours and then the secret getting out can tarnish your name. Whatever your reason for writing a book is (money or credibility are the big two), it will have the opposite effect if you’re discovered.

And then you’ll have a hard time doing future work. In society, your name means everything.

Final Words

Hiring a ghostwriter is a shortcut move. Shortcuts may work in the beginning, but they come with long-term negative effects that cost far more than they give.

Instead of taking the easy road, play for the long-game and learn how to write a book.

Your book will be better as it captures your voice. You won’t have to pay a ghostwriter. And most importantly, you’ll keep a genuine relationship with your audience.

That authenticity is paramount or you’ll never accomplish anything.

I sleep well at night knowing I write my own books and don’t deceive my audience. I hope you write your own as well, it’s worth it a thousand times over.

What do you think about hiring a ghostwriter? Is it deceitful if you act like you wrote the book? Let’s continue this discussion in the comments below.

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