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Why It Stinks Being a Ghostwriter

Categories Career

Every time there’s a guest at home and I have to explain why I’m holed up in my room all day, it goes something like this “I work online, I am a writer.” Actually, I’m a ghost writer. Well, a ghostwriter is also a writer, except that I don’t get credit for the stuff I write.

Many ghostwriters are freelancers, meaning they hustle to get gigs from the big shots who are willing to pay good money for good writing. Good ghostwriters write hundreds of pages of books, online content and speeches, even film treatments. I work in the online space, writing blog articles, SEO content, landing pages, product descriptions and the like.

Unlike many others, I’m not a freelancer. I work full-time for a writing agency, so all my work is credited to the company I work for and its CEO. That means the only people who know I wrote what I wrote are those who work at my ‘office’. Actually, just my line manager. There are perks to what I do and there are days when I’m grateful, but that’s a post for another day. Today, I want to complain.

Some days, I get upset about being a ghostwriter. Here’s why:

I’ve written so many articles, but I get no credit.

Part of the reason why creatives keep doing what they do is they love being associated with their work. Who wouldn’t want the world to know when they have created a masterpiece? I can’t say that all or even half of my articles are masterpieces, but I’ve written some good articles as a ghostwriter and it hurts when I see someone else’s name slapped on them.

I’ve lost track of the number of articles I’ve written in the past 19 months, which is how long I’ve been a ghostwriter. Wait up! 19 months!!!😱

Sometimes, I wonder if I would feel better if I wrote that much for my own website or on elsewhere on the web where I would get recognition for my work. I most likely wouldn’t have written as many articles, but you get the point.

All this work and for how much?

As far as salaries go in Nigeria and especially considering the bad economy and high unemployment rate, I have absolutely nothing to complain about. My salary is good enough for the average Nigerian, but I can’t help feeling like I’m getting a bad deal sometimes. Everyone who saw me in the first 6 to 8 months of working as a ghostwriter thought my job was ridiculous. Working so hard nearly all hours of the day and not getting paid much. I want to cry when I think of how little I’ve saved in my 18 months of working, and it’s not for lack of trying.

I worry if I’m actually building a career

There is such a thing as building a career in ghostwriting, but in no dimension is that a in the plan. Sometimes, I worry what might happen when I quit ghostwriting. What will happen to all the time I’ve lost invested? Would it have been worth it.

I’m not learning any longer

When I first started ghostwriting, I loved it because I was learning so much. I love the learning process. As cliche as this may sound, it makes me feel alive and I like the challenge. But now, I’ve gone past that. Now, I feel like I’m just going through the motions, pushing every day, reminding myself I can’t quit because it’s convenient and there are no jobs out there.

I have very little social interaction

The organisation where I work is driven entirely by remote workers. They have plans of building a physical office, but we all work from home at the moment. Working from home is great actually, but it has its downsides. For one, I miss social interaction with colleagues.

There was a time I tried to find coworkers on Facebook, but that proved futile. Even if we didn’t have any physical contact, I figured it would be nice to be able to talk online at least. There were questions I was dying to ask. Was everyone else having the same challenges as I was? How were they coping? How do they measure their growth on the job? I once thought the company was deliberately preventing contact.

I’m not sure it’s ethical

There’s something about taking money from someone to write in their own name that feels shady. I don’t write books, but take a book for instance, the person whose name is on the cover literally tells the whole world they’re the author of the book. It’s deceit, plain and simple. Much of the stuff I write isn’t actually in other people’s names per se since I write a lot of landing pages and sales copy. But, I also write blog posts and ‘guest posts’ with other people’s name on them.

Bonus: I don’t get enough exercise

Because I work from home, I don’t move around much. Today, I rode a bike for about 5 minutes and I felt like I was going to die. 😭 Okay, that one’s my fault. I used to work out regularly, but I got lazy. Doesn’t mean I can’t blame it on ghostwriting though.

To be fair, I should probably write another post on the perks of being a ghostwriter. Like most things, it’s a two-sided coin. One sweet, the other bitter. Are you a writer too? A ghostwriter maybe? Would you consider ghostwriting as a viable career option? I’d like to hear your thoughts in comments section, please. Thanks for reading ;).

NB: this post is for an October blogging challenge I’m doing with a group of other bloggers. Gift Collins of giftcollins.com came up with the idea as a way to encourage consistency. The idea is to write a post every day of October, with a total of at least 10 posts by end of the month. Let’s see how many I can churn out.

Korayday is a multi-media creative. She's a ghost copywriter who writes fiction and daydreams about making films in her spare time. Korayday is the creator of the Yoruba Igbo Muslimah podcast, a foodie, and part-time cyborg. Find her work on her blog, korayday.com.

6 thoughts on “Why It Stinks Being a Ghostwriter

  1. Ghostwriting can’t work for me, because if I become one, I’d actually tell everyone I know that I wrote the article.
    Freelance writing is sth I would wanna delve into. At least I’ll be credited.
    Working from home is actually a nice idea for me, there’s sth soothing about sitting on my bed with the most comfortable outfit doing what I know how to do best. (knowing I’ll be credited, of course)
    About it being unethical, I once thought about it too. But I guess when one is being paid, it’s okay. I guess.

    Enjoyed reading this. And it’s my first time here, hope to stick around.

    1. I totally get how you feel about being credited for your work. But, I don’t think getting paid makes it okay. It’s still a form of deceit. From the reader’s perspective.

  2. Wow Korayday, this post is deep. I actually forgot to tell you but I got a rejection mail about a week ago and I think I was very much relieved or so I think. While the thought of expanding my streams of income is tempting, I am learning to stop accumulating other people’s bagage and working my ass out to see them develop and grow while my own hustle suffers. I’ve had to drop a two jobs within the last 6 months for various reasons such as not being happy or feeling content, bad employer and so on.
    I realised that if I put in as much work I put in on the jobs that pay me little money on my own hustle, I’ll probably be self employed by now.

    But the thing is money. In the process of making your hustle pay, will one starve?
    It’s a tricky one but one way or the other, I pray we actually find something we love to do wholeheartedly.

    I’m excited to see other amazing posts you come up with and thanks for joining the challenge.

    http://www.giftcollins.com

    1. There’s nothing quite like happiness and satisfaction with what you’re doing. The money question is a big one of course. And the idea of starving is scary, but some risks are worth taking.

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

  3. This is something I’ve been thinking over for a while. Applied for a few gigs and got turned down, I guess thank God.
    You should do a post on the perks of ghost writing because really even while negotiating, I always hope it falls through and it eventually does.
    You’re lucky you’re even getting value. Someone priced me 100k to ghostwrite her autobiography. No credits, nothing, no percentage on profits. Hurt is an understatement for how I feel.

    I’m currently a freelancer and still a student, so the stress is much I don’t even get time to update my blog and the pay is just there, would be better if there were more gigs tho, but Ghostwriting takes a lot of heart. You are strong.

    I like the look of your blog BTW and the way my comment looks when I type, I don’t know much about tech so I don’t know what it’s called but it’s awesome.

    Please do a post on the perks.

    1. Oh yes, I intend to do a post on the perks of ghostwriting soon. It’s sad that someone else would most likely take the ghostwriting lady’s gig. I think you’re doing great working and schooling. Not many people can say they did that in this part of the world.
      You’re the first to comment on the look of my blog. Thanks! I appreciate your taking the time to comment too. xoxo

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