The question “Is Ghostwriting Ethical?” keeps popping up every now and then
The folks at nDash were kind enough to re-share a post I wrote for them a couple of years ago: Is Ghostwriting Ethical?
You can tell the article is a little bit dated, because it mentions people walking into light poles while playing Pokemon Go (does anybody still play that?). But I haven’t changed my mind about any of it.
- Ghostwriting does not exploit writers (unless they were promised a byline, in which case it’s a whole ‘nother issue). Most of my colleagues are well aware of the capital value of a byline and set their ghostwriting fees to reflect that.
- Neither is it exploitive for someone to put their own name on content they purchased from a ghostwriter. That’s the whole point of selling full rights: the buyer can do whatever they want with it.
- Overall, ghostwriting is not deceptive. I have never once had a client ask me to help them portray themselves as having expertise they don’t really have. My job is to communicate their thoughts and expertise better than they could have done for themselves. Writing is a skill, and not being able to do it doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing. It just means that you don’t know how to get what’s in your head onto paper (or screen).
On the other hand, writing someone’s Masters thesis or Doctoral dissertation: Definitely unethical. Don’t do it.