Until recently a solid definition of ghostwriting had never been presented to me. Ironically, knowledge about the field of ghost writing seems as illusive as the ghost writers themselves. Personally, the first time I’d heard about ghost writing was when a movie with Pierce Brosnan and Ewan McGregor came out apparently dealing with the topic. I’m not sure if I have been an exception in my delayed learning, but I thought an explanation and some facts would be useful for any other late bloomers.
First of all, what is ghost writing? According to U.S. News, it is the anonymous authorship of a written work, published under a pseudonym. So, ghost writers are hired to write for other people, and publish under that person’s name. Jobs in ghostwriting include memoir writing, autobiographies, interviews, speeches, and family histories. One of the more common emerging areas in ghost writing is medical journals. In recent years there have been several complaints about the style of writing performed by ghost writers. In the objective field of medical/scientific writing, ghost writing articles have been accused of bias, and being unable to competently write in the voice of the named author.
Oddly, being willing to go unrecognized for your writing can pay very well. The median pay for an experienced ghost writer of at least 8 years, as listed by U.S. News, is $56,900. Ghost writers with more than 8 years of experience can make between $49,800-$111,000
annually. These figures are significantly higher than the estimated wage of a first year college graduate for 2011; a whopping $22,000. Who says an English major can’t feed themselves?
One of the highest paid jobs in ghost writing is in academic plagarism; or being paid to write school papers for struggling students (obviously not financially struggling, though!). The November 2012 edition of the Chronicle Review featured an article anonymously submitted by a ghost writer who has worked since his college days to write papers. The author reported that on any given day he is working on upwards of 20 different projects. The huge demand for academic papers on ghost writers is such that the “companies” that hire them have to turn away students during midterms and finals. Ouch, are students really this dishonest and lazy? Apparently so. The ghost writer from the article claims to have written over 50,000 pages of academic writing since he began, covering every imaginable topic. Depending on the topic and deadline of a given paper, the ghost writer claims to have charged $2,000 for a piece.
It seems that the real money for artists nowadays may not be in fame afterall, but in the foregoing of public esteem for the satisfaction of a job well done.