Why I Said “No” to Ghostwriting

Once upon a time, early on in my academic and writing career, I was invited to ghostwrite for a best-selling author (who shall remain anonymous). I recall my initial shock at the request, because, in my naïveté, I had no idea that there was any such thing as a ghostwriter. That I should write and someone else would put his or her name on what was written struck me as wrong on its face.

At the time, I understood little about the “biz,” though years later I admit—I don’t view ghostwriting much differently.

I didn’t decline the opportunity immediately. I wanted to consider carefully all the ramifications. I could see definite advantages. For the ghostwriter, there would be opportunity to become known in publishing circles, to hone one’s craft, and to develop a rapport with some well-known personalities. For the named writer, there would be the opportunity to be prolific without having to do all of the laborious footwork. In the competitive marketplace of ideas, being prolific is an inestimable advantage.

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