Mary E. Davis

Author & Professional Ghost Writer

Ghost Writing FAQs


Over the course of the last two decades, I’ve been repeatedly asked many of the same questions about what I do and why I do it. Still today, I get the same questions and I answer them again and again, several times a week. Some people are simply curious, a few are genuinely puzzled and others are seeking information on how they can become an author. Following is a list of the most commonly asked questions and the answers I consistently share:



Simply put, a ghostwriter is a professional writer who authors written works for others. In my world, this includes books, manuscripts, articles, screenplays and scripts; but for others, it may also include reports, white papers and blog posts. Generally speaking, it is understood that a ghost ‘stands in the shadows’ and allows his client to take credit as the author of the work. There are, however, instances when the author allows the ghostwriter to share in the credit too, but each project differs and may be tailored to reflect the unique contract and agreement between the ghost and his client. In these instances, the author usually shares credit by placing his name first, and uses the word ‘with’ or ‘and’ just before the ghostwriter’s name on the book’s cover, title page, marketing materials, branding efforts, etc. If the client is well known, this consideration is a perk for his ghostwriter. Similarly, if the ghostwriter is a traditionally published author, then this benefits the client too.



Only writers who have a strong sense of self-worth can be ghostwriters. This is because there is no room for vanity in this business! The best ghostwriters are traditionally published authors who have already enjoyed their own recognition and who are already identified as published authors. The very best ghostwriters want to share their expertise to take their clients to the same status too! The top ghostwriters are professionals who make their sole livings doing what they do best: writing books. This is because they have no other professional obligations, weighty distractions or time-robbing influences that may hinder their projects. At the very top of the hierarchy of ghostwriters are those few select professionals who specialize in writing books for others, not because it’s a job, but because it’s their passion and their calling! It’s been said that ‘our work is what we pursue as our career, but our passion is what we pursue as our calling!’



Ghostwriters ‘tell the stories of others,’ therefore their clients own the ideas and the stories that the ghosts turn into books. Since many of the books I write are the memoirs, biographies and life stories of my clients, it would be impossible for me to write their books without their input. My skills, combined with their input, meld together to ‘tell their stories from their unique perspectives and in their voices.’



The simple answer is ‘more people than you might think!’ Do a little research, and you’ll find that many of the top authors of bestsellers actually use the services of ghostwriters, and many of them openly admit to it.

Celebrities, politicians, public figures, subjects of current events, busy executives and world leaders also turn to ghosts to tell their stories for two reasons: they’re busy working within their own careers and they are not writers. Simply put, if one needs car repairs, he seeks out the services of a mechanic; when he needs dental work, he sees a dentist; when it’s tax time, he uses a CPA, etc. For this reason, when he’s ready to become an author, he hires a professional ghostwriter to give him professional results.

Today though, it’s not just the wealthy or the well known who employ ghostwriters. It’s also the ordinary folk who have a story to share, an idea to cultivate, a wrong to right, a business to brand, or a legacy to leave that reach out to find a professional ghost to make their vision a reality. Clients have different motivations for hiring a ghost, and the top ghostwriters become a ‘part of the team’ to deliver just the product their clients envision!




Every person and every project is unique, and so every arrangement may differ too. (In my experience, most clients prefer to pay me for my knowledge, skill and professional services and then they take credit for their books, which is generally what I expect with every project.) Sometimes a client prefers to have his ghost sign an NDA that states he will never divulge his identity or participation in a book project. Some clients don’t mind if a ghost acknowledges his work on a book, although the clients don’t wish to give formal credit or share in their books’ proceeds. There are times when it’s mutually beneficial to use both the author’s and the ghost’s name in the book’s credit, even if the ghost receives no proceeds or royalties from sales of the book. Other times, a client and a ghost may agree to collaborate on a book project, share in the proceeds and share credit. In other words, every book project can be tailored to meet the intentions, objectives and needs of the individual client. These details are usually discussed, agreed upon and committed to writing at the inception of each book project.



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