Ghostwriting Vs. Self-Publishing

By Jamie McSloy / February 18, 2018
ghostwriting vs self publishing featured image

I was browsing the internet the other day and came upon an interesting discussion about ghostwriting.

An author questioned ghostwriting, and rightly pointed out that authors – long term – would be better off not being ghostwriters. Instead, they should write their own books, market them and build their own brand.

Is this good advice?

Let’s find out.

Should You Become A Ghostwriter?

Ghostwriting is anything you write for someone else that you don’t put your name to.

So if you write a book on behalf of a multi-millionaire life coach, everyone will think that he wrote it and his name and picture will be on the cover.

Or if you create articles for some website, it’ll be under someone else’s name. You’re the invisible person that provides the words.

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Why would you want to do this?

Well, there’s a trade-off there.

Firstly, you should get paid well for ghostwriting. If somebody is using your work, then they pay for it. If they’re using it to boost their own street cred, then they should pay more. This offsets the fact that you can’t go around saying, “I’m Tony Robbins secret writer!” or “Justin Bieber’s autobiography was penned by me… who wants the next one?”

Your future marketing opportunities are limited when you’re ghostwriting, so you should get paid well.

This is why it’s alluring for the most part. You can get paid a portion of earnings, a flat fee or a combination. Also, if you’re a writer, then your rent might be due tomorrow.

You can’t pay rent with “future potential earnings” so someone throwing $5000 at you to write an ebook might be a good thing.

Finally… you might not be good at business. Successfully launching a book requires a ton of skills that aren’t writing. You need to write, publish, edit, create covers (if it’s a book), create a website, market and advertise your book, find your customers, etc.

A lot of writers simply don’t have these skills.

Some of them don’t know where to start. (But not ones that read this blog.)

Some don’t have the budget.

And some just plain don’t want to.

Where will this lead?

Will All Writers Become Employees Eventually?

The writer in the discussion I mentioned above was worried. They were worried that “business types” would encroach upon writing and that writers would – instead of having the new world of self-publishing to free them from publishers – instead become employees of business-types.

This will happen.

It won’t happen to all writers. But it’ll happen to all the writers who neglect to learn business stuff.

If you move away from ghostwriting, then you need to learn how to create products. This means more than just writing the words for your product. It means putting it into a package that people want having determined what it is those people – your audience – will buy.

It then means finding those people and selling to them.

Now, if you want to be an employee or independent contractor and work as a ghostwriter, then to some extent you don’t have to learn this.

If you want to break free from that, then you have to learn these things if you want to be successful.

That’s the decision you have to make if you want to be a writer.

The Good News

The good news is that it’s never been easier to make money through writing.

If you want to write books, you can self-publish. If you self-publish, there’s no reason you can’t be successful.

The trade-off for having to learn marketing, advertising and putting together a solid set of business logistics is that those things will benefit you for years and across any business endeavour you might engage in in the future.


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