Ghost writing is, basically, content writing where the person getting the credit is not the actual author. That is, the true author’s identity is a mystery. We normally associate the concept with celebrity memoirs, but ghost writers provide all kinds of services! Blog posts, books, proposals, white papers, music, marketing copy, among others.
The ghost writer agrees to waiving all rights to the content once they receive payment. Some people consider this somehow unethical, and that’s what we want to explore in this article.
Arguments in Favour of Ghost Writing
For some people, if the actual writer has willingly accepted to receive payment in return for not getting credit, there’s nothing fraudulent about the practice. In fact, large companies publish content regularly across different platforms relying on copywriters. The public rarely finds out the names of these copywriters (and editors). This is also a form of ghost writing (particular to the field of marketing), and one that we are all used to.
Those in favour of ghost writing also argue that writing is for entertainment and information dissemination purposes in the first place. Therefore, who truly writes the text doesn’t matter in the long run.
Arguments Against Ghost Writing
Some people argue that literary ghost writing is fraduluent. They say that the consuming public will spend money on something not worthy it. They will leave the book store with a book that is not of the same quality as it would be by the original author.
The case is different when the public are aware of the situation. In the Millenium saga by Stieg Larsson, for example, Larsson died before finishing the last book. He only left a draft! So his family hired a different author to finish the book, but the public knew.
Another tricky case is academic ghost writing. Many people consider it misconduct and cheating. If a scholar is evaluated based on their written work, then it is unethical if somebody else does the job for them. It is not acceptable they get false credit. Right?
Also, who guarantees the ghost writer will keep quiet and respect confidentiality? There have been cases where they violated it!
The Middle Ground
So what’s the most ethical way to proceed?
Some say that proper credit should be given to all true authors of any texts even if as a side note on the website. Alternatively, the person getting the credit for the work should write at least a draft and then hire an editor who will “jazz it up” and give it final quality.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!