Every writer knows that writing takes time. Behind what looks like a simple article, presentation, speech, memo, proposal, blog post, or legal brief may be hours and hours of researching, organizing, and editing for improved accuracy, word choice, and punctuation—clarity and flow. It takes practice, talent, and time to write effectively; and time is a finite resource to be allocated with discretion.
I believe we can all agree that reading a well-written article is much more enjoyable than slogging through a meandering one that never really gets to the point.
“In your content marketing, you might want to inform or you might want to entertain. If your audience is mentally screaming, “Get to the point!” you’ve done neither. And no one will share your work if they don’t understand it, or if it bores them into a coma.” Chris Garrett, Copyblogger
Ghostwriting: Haunted or Helpful?
Over lunch the other day a law firm marketing director and I were discussing the likelihood of a particular law blog’s success, considering the author’s busy practice and time constraints. When I suggested that an experienced editor could help—not the practice chair checking for ethics violations or marketing director searching for lost commas—the haunted look in her eyes threw me into high alert.
“You mean a ghostwriter? That is unethical,” she said.
I replied, “Well first, there is nothing unethical about a ghostwriter in a business context. CEOs use them all the time. But if you’re suggesting that someone without a license to practice law ghostwrite a legal brief, then yes, that’s unethical.”
I added, “But I am not suggesting a ghostwriter for his blog, I’m suggesting that he/you consider engaging an outside editor—even the top journalists rely upon an editor’s fresh set of eyes to improve the work and allow them to move on to the next.”
There is nothing troubling to me about hiring an editor for a blog or ghostwriter for business and marketing communications. It happens all the time and it works well for all involved. But there’s a rhythm to it that includes strict parameters, expectations, and trust.
Frankly, to me, it is no different than hiring an electrician. Not to belittle the craft of a ghostwriter or an electrician, in fact just the opposite. If my lamp goes out, I know how to change a light bulb. But if something more critical, like installing track lighting is on the agenda, I’m going to hire an electrician. It would take me far too much time to figure out which breaker to turn off and what wires to connect to get the job done efficiently and effectively. The likelihood of it not getting done properly, or at all, is high.
Likewise, if content is critical to your marketing strategy—purely a business proposition—why wouldn’t you hire the best-suited individual to do the job? I see very little downside and lots of upside to using an accomplished professional.
!!!! Before you jump to conclusions, I’m not suggesting that you hire a ghostwriter for your blog. In fact, I’m strongly in the camp that believes a blog, in its purest sense, should be a personal journal of sorts that documents the ideas, knowledge, opinions and insights of the author no matter how well or poorly written. Thus, blogs are not the optimal domain of a ghostwriter. An editor? Yes.
On the flip side, do I think there is a dearth of well-written law blogs? Yes again. But that’s the spillover effect of lawyers and their marketers thinking that blogs are the holy grail of 21st Century legal marketing. I would never advise a law firm to publish a blog without the right resources in place—a lawyer willing to spend their free time, as scarce as that may be, to opine and write good copy.
We ghostwriters really aren’t the scary apparitions you believe us to be. Fearing the concept of employing a ghostwriter for leadership articles, speeches, scripts, presentations, proposals, whitepapers, books, and etc. is simply without cause—reasons that are not related to any misconduct. If you fall into the category of “Busy Marketing Department” or are a lawyer who hasn’t vacationed in the past year…listen up. Casper is a friendly ghost.
Ghostly confessions of a Casper.
- We are energized by a challenge. Throw us a topic and we will masterfully research, uncovering reader friendly connections to enhance your thesis. The good ghost is a quick study.
- We’re introverts. We don’t seek the limelight and are perfectly content to attribute our contributions for money and your satisfaction.
- Our hearts are full when we collaborate. Give us access to your organization—interviews with your experts or their drafts, notes, and research, and offer us insight to your brand. We promise not to haunt you.
- We work best when you can communicate your goal. Ghostwriters are tacticians, not strategists. We depend on you to give us an overview of the audience to whom you wish to connect with and the stakeholders involved in the process, i.e., the by line author, the practice chair, the CMO, and etc. Guessing is inefficient. Guessing typically means major re-rewrites. If you don’t know, then tell us. We won’t be upset if you’re not upset when we miss the target and have to start over. It happens.
- Give us your specifications and we’ll fly with it. We might, however, make a suggestion or two.
- We don’t place a value on ownership. We’re happy to build the yacht, we don’t care about owning it. Enjoy your new ride.
- Edits to our work never involve ego. We are vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow. However, we are especially keen on you keeping us around because we are helpful and add value, or referring us to a colleague.
- “Dead” lines rule our world. We don’t miss many, but we’ve been known to miss a few under special circumstances—never by much. It always works out in “The End.”
- Like you, we love the heroes and despise the villains. We can swoop in at a minute’s notice to rescue you from obliteration—or other non-life threatening situation such as we paid x-thousand dollars to publish this article, book, website, presentation and it’s due next Wednesday.
- Time? That is our commodity and it’s endless. When your supply runs dry, we provide more—humanly impossible amounts.
- Talent? Practice makes perfect. We’ve probably written more copy and content than any human being on your team.
- Spirit? That’s our bailiwick. The more difficult the assignment, the more willingly we embrace it.
The ghostwriter has plenty of wind under their wings—or vapors. Before you shoot it down, consider: Is my (or an attorney’s) time best-used writing, re-writing, editing, and re-writing again the article, proposal, presentation, etc. in order to look brilliant, yet in the end succeed at nothing other than to bore the audience?
Ghostwriters can be a godsend. The idea may be haunting but the reality—not so much. A ghost can be your best friend, and you can save time and lost revenue because you could be with clients or make a strong impression with prospects through publishing expertly written words.
[After seeing a ghost]
Kat: Dad, I’m sorry.
Dr. Harvey: For what?
Kat: For not believing you, for thinking you were a total loser.
Dr. Harvey: Aww honey… apologize later!
For editing and ghostwriting experience, don’t call ghost busters, call us!