Is Ghostwriting Unethical?

Is Ghostwriting Unethical?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding ghostwriting. You’ll hear people say that it’s not ethical, not proper, and sometimes not even legal. Thus the question: is ghostwriting unethical?

Ghostwriting is simply the act of hiring someone to write a book, article, song, or something else for you. It still your idea, and your story. The ghostwriter simply performs the job of writing, but it’s still your work.

When Is Ghostwriting Ethical?

is ghostwriting unethicalLook at it this way, you hire a contractor to build your house, don’t you? You don’t know how to build a house (most likely) or you don’t have the time, so you hire somebody to do the work for you. When you talk about your house, you don’t say “it’s my house, but it was built by Don, my contractor”. That’s completely irrelevant. Don got paid to build your house, and that’s the end of that.

Ghostwriting works the same way. You may not be a professional writer, you may not have the time, or you may have some other reason why you can’t personally write a book. Because of that, you hire a ghostwriter to do the writing for you. They have the time, since that’s their job, and they know how to write. They take your ideas from you, usually during interviews and by reviewing your notes and other materials, and write your book, story, song, greeting card, or whatever for you. You pay them, just like you would a contractor building your house, they deliver the book, and you go your separate ways.

There is nothing unethical or illegal about any of that. In fact, it’s just good business. Hire the right expert to do the job, just like you would anything else. In other words, in this type of situation, ghostwriting is ethical.

Ghostwriters can be used for anything written.

  • Books
  • Speeches
  • Greeting cards
  • Songs
  • Resumes
  • LinkedIn profiles
  • Social media posts
  • Author biographies
  • Speeches
  • And so forth

When Is Ghostwriting Unethical?

There is one area where ghostwriting could be considered unethical, however. That would include a PhD thesis, term paper, or some other material that is supposed to be done by you. In that case, you are unethically trying to achieve some goal that is supposed to be done by you. That would be called cheating, and educational institutions frown on that

Ghostwriting would not be valid for things such as:

  • Term papers
  • A thesis
  • Test answers
  • Entries into writing contests
  • And so on.

What is the difference?

Primarily, the main question to ask is “are you expected to be the writer?” A PhD thesis or entries into a writing contest obviously should be written by you and not by someone else. Hiring a ghostwriter would be unethical in these instances.

It all depends on the expectations of the audience. A professor reviewing your term paper expects that you wrote the term paper. For most books, Especially nonfiction, the fact that it was written by a ghostwriter (subcontractor) Is irrelevant because what’s important is the information.

Even big-name authors occasionally use ghostwriters to write new books for their series of novels. Sometimes they are noticeably different, and sometimes you can’t tell the difference. It depends on the skill of the ghostwriter and how closely the author reviewed the work.

How do you know when it’s ethical? It’s entirely dependent on the situation. It’s quite common to use a ghostwriter to put together a resume, for example, because you’re not being judged on the quality of your resume writing to apply for a job in computer science. No one cares that your resume was written by someone else. However, if you are applying for a job as a resume writer, then of course you would turn in samples of resumes that you wrote yourself. You see the difference?

In most instances, you can think of a ghostwriter as a subcontractor, and you use them for their writing abilities and to save you time and effort.