Nope. This is not about some ancient Egyptian funerary traditions, Lovecraft’s textbook of magic or an unpublished crime novel from Agatha Christie.

No talking about Mrs (or Mr) Death here.

Well… Actually, there is some dead body in this story.

Death of the Ghost Writer

This is one of many stories of good things gone wrong.

As I have pointed out in past, Google is trying, in a way or another, to ensure good quality web contents are rewarded while copies and black-hat SEO based websites, aka “cheaters”, are penalised. Easier said than done, as we can see.

The story is, however, way older than Google, way older than search engines or web directories.

A silent, invisible practice known as “ghost writing” is widely used and quite active all other the world.

As a creative professional and writing lover, I had my share of disappointment when my creations or my contents were copied and plagiarised. It did not feel good and that is maybe why I felt a little bit offended by the offer of ghost writing UX articles.

The web only made thing easier for this subtle type of… crime.

I recall once being called by an agency’s manager who openly told me they were copying existing sites’ graphics and layouts, no shame in his voice!

I have various projects to work on and even if I had a cleaner coming to my house to tidy up, do the laundry and so forth, I still would only have so much time to write on top of my actual-money-making job.

How can people way busier than me find the time to write? I am sure they still have to sleep and eat. Are they are all called James Patterson, who says he used to wake up at six to have a two hours writing session every morning before going to work?

How can some professionals find time to write fantastic books if they also have a seventy hours per week job?

How can some companies come up with enticing technical books if their workers are busy, ahem, working?

A ghost writer is the solution adopted, since centuries ago, across a variety of environments.

From blogs, to magazine articles to books, a ghost writer, and not the official author, could be behind that lovely content you liked, that article you enjoyed or that book you so much loved. And again, you can find ghost writers behind “popularity generator blogs” or companies’ websites – companies often do not actually write their own articles and press releases but rather give the task to outsourced agencies or, again, ghost writers.

Only few weeks ago I saw a Facebook advert about “essay writing” for students. I could not restrain myself from commenting and wondering how this could be legal.

Personally, I believe this practice should be simply illegal.

Naturally, there is a significant difference between simply reviewing, embellishing and putting together in writing someone else’s ideas and work. This is not the type of ghost writing I am arguing about. In ancient times, scribes were necessary for people who did not know how to read or write and the letter’s author was still the poor illiterate plebeian, despite the embellishment and good writing of the professional. Although I still think some credit is due when the effort of the writer is significant.

Honest co-authoring is understandable, especially in a market where people would buy a novel only because a big name is on it. At least, the co-author would get his or her share of the pie and fame.

But being a ghost writer is the death of a writer or creative professional.

As a ghost writer you can’t use your articles as part of your portfolio.

A young author might see this as a way to practice and get easy money with ghost writing, but anything written this way is lost. The true author will not be able to use any part of whatever he wrote as a ghost writer also considering advancing technologies to identify copied and plagiarised contents. If he only tried to replicate content with his name on it, he would see bad days; if he only used some of the nice words he elaborated, he could still see bad days.

I understand the need for survival and for good money and, if you love writing, what better way to get it than doing what you love? But is it really worth it? In this article the author points out some interesting factors about ghost writing.

Why would you write something for others when you could write for yourself, take all credit and be you the writer or blogger who gets the best out of your hard work?

“It doesn’t pay the bills” you say? It seems to me it pays someone else’s wages!