Many people have something to say, but they lack the time or the skill to say it.  Oftentimes the solution to this problem is a ghostwriter.  For years, movie stars, professional athletes and other celebrities have used ghostwriters to tell their stories.  However, ghostwriters are not just for the rich and famous.  Business consultants, motivational speakers, college professors and other lesser known individuals also use ghostwriters to help them communicate their messages and enhance their reputations.

The relationships between ghostwriters and the "authors" for whom they write are as varied as marriages - some are ideal matches, some are matches of convenience, and some probably should never have occurred.  The following is a list of issues to be considered by ghostwriters and authors before entering into a relationship:


One of the biggest problems that often faces a ghostwriter is obtaining access to and cooperation by the person commissioning the work.  The ghostwriter(s task will obviously be much more difficult if he or she has to conduct substantial research, organize or verify large amounts of information, or struggle to get sufficient interview time with the author.  Problems can also arise if the author has a right of approval over the ghostwriter(s work.  This is particularly true if the work is an autobiography.  The author may wish to deviate from reality in depicting certain events in his or her life, while the ghostwriter may feel obligated to report these events as they actually occurred. 


The author and the ghostwriter may agree to treat the work as a joint work, or the author may require the ghostwriter to assign all of his or her rights in the work to the author.  In the former situation, the author and the ghostwriter will be equal co-owners of the copyright in the work, and, unless they agree otherwise, both will have to consent to all publications and other uses of the work.  In the latter situation, the author will be the sole owner of the copyright in the work, and the ghostwriter will not have any control over the use of the work, or any modifications to the work.  If the author requires an assignment of copyright from the ghostwriter, the ghostwriter may decide not to be credited, since he or she will not have any say over the final form of the work.


The ghostwriter may receive payment in the form of a one-time flat fee, a share of royalties, or some combination of the two.  In addition, the ghostwriter may be entitled to some portion of the author(s proceeds if the book is licensed for other uses, such as a movie, television show or stage play.  If the ghostwriter(s compensation is to be based solely on royalties from publication, the ghostwriter may want a guaranteed payment in the event the work cannot be completed or published due to delays or other problems caused by the author.


A ghostwriter of a celebrity biography or similar work will often receive credit in the form of (with( or (as told to.(  However, ghostwriters of other types of books, such as books by business consultants or seminar presenters, usually will not be credited, since one of the purposes of creating such a book is to gain attention and publicity for the author as an accomplished expert in his or her field. 

Ghostwriting can provide a valuable service to a would-be author, and a lucrative source of income for a writer.  However, before beginning a project, the author and the ghostwriter should make sure that they share the same vision and expectations for the project.  Once this has been established, they should enter into an agreement to serve as a road map for their relationship.