I often get asked this and often think the answer someone is looking for is, “someone who writes scary stuff about ghosts.” Perhaps the author of the Casper comic books was a ghostwriter? Okay, to be fair most ghostwriters don’t make jokes – I’m the exception.
Actually, the truth is a lot more mundane, or exciting depending on your viewpoint. In terms of a non-fiction ghostwriter, they are a professional writer who takes an author’s concepts, thoughts, ideas, notes, audio ramblings, paper napkin scratching’s, YouTube videos, PowerPoint presentations, and just about anything else and pulls them together in a coherent fashion to form a book, an article, white paper or even a blog post.
The finished work is the author’s, it will simply be polished, readable and accessible. The author can present it as their own without crediting the ‘ghost’ behind it – the invisible wordsmith who brought their words to life.
There are many reasons why people hire a ghostwriter, in my book all of them are great reasons! For many, writing is not their forte; it’s not that they can’t write but it’s not what they do best. For others, it can be difficult to write about themselves, or perhaps explain complicated issues in a way laypeople can understand. Some, just don’t have the time.
A ghostwriter is someone who cuts through all the challenges and gets words on paper in a way that makes sense, with the result that the author’s narrative is enjoyable to read and does the job for which it was intended. In essence (a ghost is an essence isn’t it?) a ghostwriter knows exactly what an author wants to say, how they want to say it, and says it in their voice. Spooky stuff eh?