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Our Experts will Geek your Essays and Homework

If you have read the likes of Stephen King and Joanne Rowling, then you have had firsthand experience with a professional ghostwriter. As a student, you can also solicit academic ghostwriting services from best educational writing websites like GradeCrest.

But just what is an academic ghostwriting service? Academic ghostwriting services are becoming a preference for many students. Mostly, students double studies and work, which leaves little or no time for them to write high-quality college papers, complete assignments, and attempt homework. But do the professors and instructors care enough to reduce the workload, No! 

So students find someone else, sort of an academic research assistant, who conducts research, gets scholarly sources, writes a decent piece of essay, research paper, and term paper, and consults with them the entire process. So, an academic ghostwriter works with a student, like a tutor-student relationship, to ensure that they get their ideas written on paper.

Can you hire a ghostwriter for a dissertation or thesis, yes you can. However, be ready to spend more time with them to get to the core of the paper written for you.

That said, you must carefully vet the ghostwriter you entrust with one of your essays or college papers.

Is Ghostwriting Plagiarism? Is Academic Ghostwriting Legal?

If you are tight on time and still need to catch up with the class, academic ghostwriting is entirely something you should consider. NB: Ghostwriting is never plagiarism neither are laws that make it illegal. Ghostwriters sell content and give rights to the person buying it. The same applies to academic ghostwriting service no Canadian, American, or UK law make academic ghostwriting illegal.  The mere attacks to academic ghostwriting are from people who do not appreciate the changing times. It is an issue with universities that do not understand the dynamics of how it works. Academic ghostwriting services help students get model papers or sample academic papers that they can use in completing theirs. Students have taken honor codes and cannot cheat by submitting such papers for credit. So, when they receive the papers with the sources, they can understand how to format papers in MLA, APA, Turabian, Chicago, ASA, or Harvard.

Academic ghostwriters are surrogate mothers that research the essays for students, write the essays, and submit the papers to the clients. As a college ghostwriting service, we encourage the clients to chip in ideas when the papers are yet to be or when they are being written. This way, we have our ghostwriters discuss the way forward with the students and come up with as many points as there is on a subject. Now, the same happens when handling either short deadlines or long-deadline college papers.

Get our ghostwriting service for formatting, editing, styling, proofreading, writing masters and Ph.D. theses and dissertation, writing dissertation chapters, and conducting research. We can also help you create PowerPoint presentations, posters, flyers, personal statements, MBAs and DBA papers, data analysis, and all types of essays.

Why Students Prefer Using Academic Ghost Writing Services

As stated above, students all over the world are entering a competitive space. Everyone wants to get an A-grade research paper, term paper, essays, discussion posts, and you name it. If you have ever read a negative blog on ghost academic writing and wondered if ghostwriting academic papers is illegal, we have something to keep you thinking.

If you were an architect and need to build a house, yet you do not have time, what would you do? You would definitely hire someone on command to draw the best design for you, right? That is the same way academic ghostwriting works. Students who are part-time professionals entrust ghostwriting experts with their academic work.

Here are some of the top reasons why you need our ghostwriting services:

  • When writing different types of academic papers assigned in high-school, college, and university.
  • If you need essays, admission essays, term papers, reports, lab reports, marketing plans, business plans, and coursework projects done as you do other personal stuff.
  • When looking for professional paper assistance to get plagiarism-free and well-researched papers.
  • You need a PowerPoint presentation done for you while you finalize preparing for your presentation or dissertation defense.

There are many reasons to get help from professional ghostwriting services. What matters is whether you get a reliable academic ghostwriting service like GradeCrest.

Profile of our Academic Ghost Writers for Hire

Academic ghostwriting services are common among bright students and professionals. Did you know that ghostwriting services can perfectly handle your essays and even book reports and reviews? Here is a bit of what our ghostwriters do:

  • Help you generate topic ideas for your academic writing tasks such as essays, research papers, and term papers.
  • Assist with drafting the outline and formulating the best structure of a paper.
  • Selecting the best sources for your academic papers.
  • Writing plagiarism-free papers for you.
  • Editing and proofreading the college and university papers for you.
  • Delivering your research paper orders on time.

But who are they:

  • Holders of Masters and Ph.D. degrees from reputable universities.
  • Native English Speaker.
  • Understand academic writing processes.
  • Privy to the different types of essays, research papers, and college papers.
  • Understand how to format academic papers.
  • Can write both long-form and short-form College and university papers.
  • Has passed our rigorous internal tests and participates in professional writing development courses.
  • Can write a high-grade paper with minimal to no mistake.
  • Carefully handpicked and trained to become the best academic ghostwriter.

An F sounds like a poor grade to get you some slot in the corporate world. It can even cripple your GPA. When different tutors or professors assign you to work, you cannot land your hand in all of them. Therefore, it would be prudent to reach out to us for the best-ghostwriting services. Better yet, we have the best ghostwriters for academic ghostwriting with a guarantee of distinction-level papers.

How our Professional Academic Ghostwriting Service Works

No academic ghostwriting service has made it easier to order essays online. With our service, you can quickly pay for essays online. Here is the drill:

  • Click on any order now button, which will redirect you to our order form.
  • Fill as much information as you can about your college or university papers.
  • Choose the academic level to help us match you up with the right academic ghostwriter. Graduate ghostwriting experts handle graduate-level papers as well as undergraduate level papers.
  • Pay for the ghostwriting services you wish to receive. We have even made it easier as you can get discount codes to your emails and use them when paying. Besides, the calculator enables you to estimate how much money to pay for our academic ghostwriting services.
  • We assign your papers to a qualified academic ghostwriter who creates a custom academic paper for you within the deadline.
  • You can communicate with your ghostwriter as they work on your ghost story. Note that our ghostwritten essays are of high standards and are always delivered on time. Besides, we do not tolerate plagiarized papers. All our essays are non-plagiarized.
  • If you get a paper and feel there is a need for some areas to be tweaked, our free-revisions policy covers you.
  • And we have the best satisfaction guarantee in place.

Our papers are written from scratch. You can bet on us for high-quality college papers . Besides, if you are short of time, we can handle even essays due in 3 hours.

What Ghost Writing Services Do We Offer?

Academic ghostwriting has bud out to become a stable industry. Like what the sea anemone is to the clownfish, the academic ghostwriting industry is a mutual support system to the higher education system. In an article written by Julia Molinari  in the Guardian, academic proofreading is a common practice among students, and it is not illegal.

Only when novice writers write your research papers will you have a paper carefully peppered with inaccuracies and full of plagiarism. Otherwise, when you find academic writing as a complicated endeavour and get our academic ghostwriting services, you will be assured of professional handling your academic work.

The main differentiating factor between us and our competitors is that you converse with the client as they handle your work. Besides, we have a progressive delivery arrangement where you get periodic drafts to ensure your expert essay writer is on track.

Our ghostwriting help is affordable and does not cost you an arm and a leg. Moreover, we cover different subjects. Here is a sneak pick of what to expect from us.

Thesis and Dissertation Writing

We have in the past, prioritized on client satisfaction. We cherish graduate and MBA students who find worth in what we do. Our academic ghostwriting service serves as equally the best dissertation ghostwriting service . We have delivered world-class professional academic ghostwriting services to many clients.

A major reason why we remain on top is the competent team of well-educated and dedicated dissertation ghostwriters . Our dissertation writers can customize the dissertations to meet your requirements. 

With the expert dissertation ghostwriters in our tuff, we are always confident of meeting the strict university requirements.

We can help you write dissertation proposals and then proceed to write all the dissertation chapters for you. If you are looking for timely delivered and professionally written dissertations, GradeCrest is your happy haven. 

We also help with SPSS, STATA, and EXCEL in data analysis. We are simply the best dissertation ghostwriting service with experienced professional dissertation ghostwriters. You can always get help with your dissertation.  We are experts in helping with thesis writing.

Capstone Papers Research

In college and university, you will be required to write capstone projects. If you are a nursing student, completing a nursing capstone paper or project is a given. Well, writing a capstone paper, which comes in your last school year, can dampen your mood.

Our academic ghostwriting services give you an easy time with your capstone projects. Our professional capstone research paper writers can write a capstone project for you.

Our premium capstone ghostwriting service presents papers in a well-defined format for academic papers.

Our writers will present you with research from scratch, a good topic idea for your capstone project, and an outline for confirmation by your professor. Once confirmed, our academic ghostwriters put their expertise to work and produce the best papers for you. 

It matters not the level of academic you are, so long as you need someone to write your capstone project, our capstone writing service is assuredly the best.

Term Paper Writing

As your life in college advances, you will notice that you need to write term papers. And if they cannot meet Professor Raymond Hames’  standards of writing a term paper, you will need to hire a ghostwriter to help you with term paper ghostwriting.

Again, our academic ghostwriting service has become the first resort for a student seeking term paper help . Our term paper ghostwriting team can help you choose a good topic for your term paper, plan the paper, and write a high-quality term paper. 

Our expert term paper writers have all it takes to produce quality papers. So, if you are stuck with this type of paper, do not hesitate to get help.

Research Paper Help

Writing research papers is an intensive process. It spans from researching for scholarly sources, generating topic ideas, choosing the best titles, and writing a deeply-researched essay. Given its intense nature, students dread research paper writing, which is why they entrust writing research papers to research paper ghostwriting services.

With our ghostwriting service, you can buy research papers online. When you do so, our research paper experts will do everything from scratch within the specified deadlines. Ours is a leading and smart research paper writing service .

We only have experts in different subject matters and not rookie academic writers. We are waiting to assist you with any type of research paper.

Case Study Writing

Writing a case study is a prerequisite for students undertaking sociology, psychology, nursing, medicine and health, business and management, accounting, finance, and tourism, to mention a few. Case study writing can be a tedious process.

For instance, if asked to write a case study of Google LLC, Amazon, Apple, Keurig, or Carrefour. You have to go through the intensive process of analyzing the company annual and financial statements before coming with a PESTEL, SWOT analysis, Porters five force analysis, and a great case study.

Sometimes, it is a leadership case study, and you are not just good at research. In all these cases, our case study ghostwriting services might be a fortune in waiting for you. Our expert case study writers will analyze the case study for you. Each case study comes with a profound thesis statement that hooks the markers from the beginning to the end.

At Gradecrest you can get a case study writing services that produce quality, intelligent, smartly-written, and organized case studies.

Marketing and Business Plans Ghostwriting

Writing either a business plan or a marketing plan is no mean feat. You require to understand the right format of a business plan or a marketing plan to write the best. Sometimes you don’t know how to write a marketing plan to clearly outline a marketing strategy.

If this is the case contracting a marketing plan ghostwriter will be an inevitable step. Our extensive marketing plan writing help service can benefit both students and organizations. The same applies to our business plan writing service.

Maybe you have an idea but do not know how to write an excellent business plan; we can spark your entrepreneurial journey and ambitions by writing the best business plan. Our marketing and business plan ghostwriting service is the gold standard in the industry.

Reasons to Trust GradeCrest Ghostwriting Services

Our ghostwritten papers have found fame among college and university students. Within our team, we have administrators, support, and technical staff who work day and night to ensure you succeed in your education.  Professionally, we are always leading in the academic writing world due to diligence, persistence, and expertise. Here are a few benefits of our low-cost academic ghostwriting services.

  • Everything is written from scratch. All the papers processed and bought on our website are written from scratch. With the latest plagiarism-detection tools, we can smell and smoke out plagiarized papers. And once we do, responsible writers are banished from our fraternity. Such level of strictness has made us a topnotch ghostwriting service preferred by students.
  • Deadlines are met. Out of 10 papers, 9 are always submitted on time. The 1 is room for error and depends on the cooperation between the client and the writer. We have a last-minute service to cater to writing short notice deadlines. As part of the details you fill, we require the deadline to ensure that the writers deliver the paper early enough for proofreading and editing.
  • Round the clock assistance . GradeCrest is open 24/7 and 365 days annually. When you want last-minute editing on the paper , our support can get a writer for the same. Whether it is just a few pages or inquiry of a long paper like a thesis or a dissertation, you can always consult with us for free.
  • No complexity scares us off. We have both technical and non-technical writers. Even when your project is extremely challenging, we will get the best writer for it. Our ghostwriting specialists accept any academic challenge. Bring it on!
  • Affordable Pricing. Ghostwriting papers at our website is cheap. We consider the fact that as a student you have a tight budget. But with us on your case, the majority of the students agree we have the low-cost academic writing help services.
  • Safety and Confidentiality. When you pay for academic ghostwriting services, you are safely secured. We only use trusted merchants to receive payments. We never disclose your data to any third party. See our privacy policy.  Besides, once you order, your paper can never be re-sold or reproduced to another client.

Try the Most Creative Academic Writing Company

Academic and business writing is a preserve of the creatives. Part of what the professors assess is to what extent you can use your critical thinking and creativity. With that in mind, our ghostwriting experts have accomplished the highest level of college and university education.  

They come from top universities in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States of America.  For that, we have creative, academic, business, and technical caliber writers.

When you pay for papers from our website, you get content that is great and written from scratch by top ghostwriters for hire. The ghostwriters have amassed experience to write texts that are original and of high quality. Even the most distinguished authors and figures have confessed to being using ghostwriting services.

There are two approaches to our academic ghostwriting services.  First off, an academic ghostwriter will choose a topic in consultation with you and based on the assignment prompt. They will then select the sources to use and send the links or PDF files to you for approval or vetting. Then with your go-ahead, they can write your academic papers to the highest levels.

Secondly, the ghostwriter can write a perfect paper for you and only when you approve of it can it be completed. Either way, it is better to hire a ghostwriter for your academic essays than stare at blank pages or submit nothing at all.

Education is expensive, and after investing in fees, you just cannot let a tough essay come between you and success. It is good to invest either side, and that is why our academic ghostwriting service exists.

Why Students Prefer Hiring Our Services

Academic ghostwriting services are not illegal. Besides, every student wants to submit a paper that guarantees them a high grade. Our custom paper writing service covers your back when you face challenges writing essays. We have expert academic writers who help you produce high-quality papers as well as choose good topics for your papers.

Using our ghostwriting services has many advantages as already outlined. We have been entrusted to accomplish different kinds of academic assignments, and not a single client has ever complained of unsatisfactory services.

So, you can join the bandwagon of students successfully doing their stuff as we take care of their papers or stay lowly and do your papers the best way that has been bringing poor grades. The good thing is that lawyers, politicians, professors, nurses, pilots, and other many professionals have used our services.

You can hire affordable academic ghostwriters from GradeCrest. Rest assured you will get professional help with your essay.

And like a ghost, we only do the writing, and yours is to own it. Even when our essay writing experts handle your papers, your insights are always a gem. So, we encourage all-round communication for the best outcome. Enough with the inferior grades, hire an academic ghostwriter online and get the best.

Ghostwriting has been an ultra-safe and convenient solution to college students and university students who want to hone their writing skills. It is also a good resort for students who fear meeting deadlines. If you procrastinated it this long, our academic ghostwriting services can ‘undo your mistake. Get help now!

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Gradecrest is a professional writing service that provides original model papers. We offer personalized services along with research materials for assistance purposes only. All the materials from our website should be used with proper references. See our Terms of Use Page for proper details.

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Integrity of Scientific Research pp 427–435 Cite as

Understanding Ghostwriting and Ghost Authorship As Problems of Research Integrity

  • Lisa DeTora 3  
  • First Online: 14 October 2022

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1 Citations

Ghostwriting is a serious problem of research integrity; however, its true impact remains unclear, and little concrete advice is available on how to avoid it. Ongoing discussions and engagement are needed by all authors and contributors to research publications. Efforts made by professional groups to ensure authorship transparency with an aim of ending ghost authorship and ghostwriting are presented. Attention to publication planning and execution is necessary to ensure that ghostwriting is eliminated, and research integrity is protected, especially in the context of large studies sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Ghostwriting
  • Transparency

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DeTora, L. (2022). Understanding Ghostwriting and Ghost Authorship As Problems of Research Integrity. In: Faintuch, J., Faintuch, S. (eds) Integrity of Scientific Research. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99680-2_43

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Academic ghostwriting: to what extent is it haunting higher education?

I f you Google "academic proofreading," you will see a list of sites offering to "proof" your work. What they are also offering, however, is to write your assignments for you. How do I know this? There are two main reasons.

The first is that I occasionally assess ghost texts: I teach English for Academic Purposes (EAP). Where I work , students don't sit traditional exams. Instead, they write research papers and at the end of the process (which we scaffold), they sit a viva voce exam to extend and defend their research. Both the paper and the viva are assessed. This, we believe, provides several opportunities to get to know the writers and their texts. In the end, we are reasonably confident that final papers are genuine.

Now and then, however, a student will submit a piece of beautifully polished and referenced work that is clearly at odds with evidence from our day-to-day interactions. It is usually sufficiently and artfully peppered with inaccuracies to be attributable to a novice writer, but we know it is not the student's work. When a piece of work is plagiarised, we can usually prove it – but in cases where the student has paid someone else to write the piece, we can't.

Paid by the grade

The second reason is that, in a fit of professional curiosity, I recently sent my CV to, and was interviewed by, a "proofreading" agency. Proofreading prices range roughly from £16 for a 2,000-word essay to £600 for a doctoral thesis, though most sites don't give prices. It wasn't until my interview, however, that I was asked if I would actually write essays and told that I would be paid according to whether the essay got a first or second. When I asked how much, the response was vague, but if the story about Saif Gaddafi's use of the writing services of a PhD student is anything to go by, ghostwriting pays well! Much of what I was told also chimes with this ghostwriter .

I do not have statistics on the extent to which ghost writers haunt higher education. What I do know is that there are several agencies offering the service and that obtaining a degree really matters to the UK's 2.5 million students (their parents and sponsors), half a million of whom are from overseas, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency .

Academic writing is complex

Such pressure can contribute to inequitable levels of competition. Could you produce lengthy academic assignments without having benefited from a traditional academic background or without English as your first language? Academic discourse is highly complex, inherently cultural and discipline-specific. It requires extensive reading and is also rapidly evolving. In the same situation, I too might be tempted to ask for help, plagiarise or drop out.

However, since all students – including those who write for themselves – are subject to the same assignments, deadlines and assessment criteria, it is unfair for universities to collude tacitly with ghostwriting.

Name and shame?

I am not advocating a culture of penalties where students are named and shamed, as happens in plagiarism cases: I can understand why some students do it. But since ghostwriting isn't illegal (yet), what can universities do to maintain high academic standards?

A typical response is to extend deadlines, run workshops and set up writing centres. Re-instating the written exam might help, but that too has drawbacks.

I would endorse a profoundly different attitude to academic writing, one that recognises its role in the development of responsible academic individuals and communities. I would like academic writing to become more integrated, not outsourced to market forces or bolted on as a response to last-minute deadlines.

There are some universities with an integrated writing culture. These include Warwick University, which runs an MSc in chemistry with scientific writing , and Coventry University, which offers an MA on academic writing theory and practice . At Nottingham, we take this approach in our EAP programmes . But how do other programmes integrate a culture of writing within their disciplines? And to what extent might nurturing such a culture reduce the need for ghostwriters and foster more pride in developing our writing selves?

Julia Molinari is a PhD researcher and EAP tutor at Nottingham University – follow her on Twitter @serenissimaj

Join the Higher Education Network for more comment, analysis and job opportunities , direct to your inbox. Follow us on Twitter @gdnhighered .

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A close encounter with ghost-writers: an initial exploration study on background, strategies and attitudes of independent essay providers

  • Shiva Sivasubramaniam   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-7014-5000 1 ,
  • Kalliopi Kostelidou 1 &
  • Sharavan Ramachandran 1  

International Journal for Educational Integrity volume  12 , Article number:  1 ( 2016 ) Cite this article

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Academic dishonesty presents in different forms, including fabrication of data, falsifying references, multiple submissions, collusion, and sabotage, with two forms haunting academia, namely plagiarism and contract cheating or ghost writing. These latter forms have received considerable attention and have been subjects for research. This interview-based study provides some further insight into the problem of ghost writing through presenting the attitudes, justifications and networking practices of some hired ‘ghost-writers’ from a developing country and discusses the depth of this emerging threat to the academic community.

Initially, through simple internet searches using specific keywords, an array of professional advertisements selling contract writing services were identified. Some of these promotional advertisements were found in Facebook® posts, and/or Twitter® feeds. The second part of this study presents a summary of findings from interviews of a group of ghost-writers including their background, attitude and justifications for setting up this new business. The study identifies several high calibre post-graduates who have come to understand the Western (European/North American/Australian) ways of scientific writing and have produced a network of ‘consultancy’ services. Although the birth of their business was ad-hoc, they have established a good network and are now able to share projects and practices. Many of them offer services to home and foreign students with varied levels of customer focus. Some of them are even using Turnitin © software to identify text matching issues. This study suggests that these paper mills have widely been subscribed to by students. The article finally discusses wider issues arising from these interviews and proposes some ways of tackling this new threat to academia.


Academic dishonesty can present in a variety of forms, including data fabrication, falsifying references, multiple submissions, collusion and sabotage. Two common forms of academic dishonesty which haunt academia are plagiarism and ghost writing or contract cheating. The term ‘contract cheating’ was coined by Clarke and Lancaster, when they used IT–based tools to track bids by students trying to outsource computer work on the internet (Clarke and Lancaster 2006 ). In contrast ‘ghost writing’, has several distinct meanings, depending on the level of involvement of the ghost-writer (POGO 2011 ; Bosch and Ross 2012 ). Some examples, such as autobiographies that are mostly written collaboratively by a named author and ghost-writer, are considered ethically acceptable providing the use of the ghost--writer is properly acknowledged. In contrast, ‘contract cheating’ in which the student/academic is using/paying ghost-writers to complete parts of or entire projects without any inputs of their own, or proper acknowledgement is defined as academic dishonesty. Dedicated businesses such as essay mills/paper mills or writing services, as they are often presented, are being set up to serve these customers.

Since many Western (see methodology for definition) universities have incorporated text-matching software checks as a part of the submission process, plagiarism has been somewhat deterred, if not always detected (Sivasubramaniam 2013 ). However, there is less focus on addressing the issue of ghost writing or buying essays from paper mills (Molinari 2014 ). As Rothschild ( 2011 ) argued, although ghost writing is technically plagiarism under strict definition, many institutions fail to address it as a problem. Based on personal discussions with some 30 academics in the Bioscience field, approximately 60 % believe that a professionally ghost written article can easily be identified either by text matching detection software, by its style or use of citation. They also think that essays from most paper mills are too expensive for undergraduates to buy, since they are only going to contribute a percentage to their final degree. The former belief is based on assumption that ghost-writers do not spend much time researching the subject and therefore may use internet-based articles, or may sell basically the same essay, or parts of it, more than once. However in reality, it is impossible to detect an article carefully ghost written by an expert just by using text matching software. The second assumption is based on the idea that ghost-writers are professional experts who would charge high fees that are unaffordable by most students. However, it is questionable whether all ghost-writers are professionals.

Due to internationalisation of education, availability of web resources coupled with the spread/penetration of social media and their broad use by the young generation have together invalidated these assumptions.

So what is the connection between internationalisation, social media and ghost writing? Many students with postgraduate qualifications from Western Universities are returning to their native countries to face a grim future as regards employment. Having studied internationalised curricula and established global links via social media, some of these students can and do start new ghost writing services. These services are easily accessible, economical, and above all, provide realistic essays that resemble an original student essay which may be precise, but include common student mistakes.

This article first captures the extent of internet presence of ghost writing advertisements and then investigates the attitudes and justifications of a group of hired ‘ghost-writers’ from a developing country, as well as their working and networking practices, to examine the depth of this emerging treat to the academic community.


Terms used in this work.

For the purposes of this work, terms used are defined as follows: ‘ghost-writer’ the person who authors essays, books, articles, theses which are credited to another person. For the present work, ‘ghost writing’ is used to describe the act of ghost writing, namely hiring a ghost-writer to author an academic assignment. Synonymous terms used in this paper are: contract-cheating, marketing of writing services, paper mills and essay mills. Although the actual definition of these terms may vary, the resulting phenomenon is the same, i.e. provision of an authored work, for a fee. ‘Western’ is used in the text to refer to Anglophone universities from Europe (any country), Northern America (USA and Canada), or Australia/New Zealand. ‘Commercial Essay Providers’ and ‘Amateur Writers’ are used according to their respective establishments. The former is used to depict a network of well-established writers;the latter to describe non-professional independent writers.

Concept of this work – online search

The idea of carrying out this exploratory study was initiated in 2013 after reading a Facebook © post (advertisement) about ‘high quality help for writing assignments’. Following this, a Google® (UK-Version 49.0.2623.112 m) search was immediately carried out using words linked to the term ‘ghost-writers’ such as ‘ghost writing’; ‘how to ghost write’; ‘detecting ghost writing’, to capture the extent of popularity/presence of these words within the online community. A similar search was performed in April 2016 using other popular terms such as ‘contract cheating’ and ‘professional writing service’. In 2013, the authors looked into social media such as Facebook © , Twitter®, and What’s App® to identify 25 posts/advertisements for ‘academic writing services’. These writers were randomly selected and contacted through phone calls, when authors explained the purpose of the study. Out of the 25, only ten agreed to participate so they were sent an invitation, with more details. All responders were given details of the purpose of this study, its mode of investigation and ethical aspects involved, including maintaining confidentiality. The study included interviews with the ten ghost-writers/organisations. Representing different subject areas but mainly Biosciences, they were all educated in Western countries and had since returned to their country of origin. Because these interviews were conducted in a different country from that of the author’s institution, ethical issues were covered by conducting them under UNESCO’s ‘Norms of Journalistic Conduct’ as described within the country in which these interviews were carried out. For reasons of confidentiality, this file cannot be presented, as it would expose the country where the interviewed ghost-writers were based. As almost all of the interviewees considered their work as a ‘professional writing service’ or ‘project’, the term ‘ghost writing’ was avoided in interviews. Interviews were held face-to-face with a duration of approximately fifteen minutes or by email. Comments and answers by the interviewees were recorded. These notes were subsequently re-read and key points selected to be reproduced in this text and commented upon. All interviews took place between March and to December 2013.

The purpose of these interviews was to assess (a) the individual background/circumstances for starting or joining this service (b) its popularity (c) its reliability/affordability and (d) whether they considered their service as academic dishonesty. Some examples of questions, taken from each category are given in the Appendix . While these questions were posed to the interviewees, specific answers were not always received and data presented only refer to the answers received.

Voluntary contributions of few ghost written articles were also collected to check their authenticity using the text matching software Turnitin® - Moodle Direct Version 2.2.1.

Online searches

General online searches were carried out to capture the numbers of hits on ghost writing in Google® to obtain an idea of the extent and popularity of this phenomenon. Searches were carried out in 2013 when this work started and repeated in 2016. Initially only the term ghost writing was used as a search keyword, while in the most recent search (2016) we also included ‘contract cheating’. The terms used are shown in Table  1 . As search keywords, phrases containing either neutral or positive connotations were included e.g. ‘how to ghost write’, ‘definition of contract cheating’, or negative ones such as ‘problem of ghost writing’, ‘detecting ghost writing’, ‘contract cheating in Higher Education’. The overall search data is summarised in Table  1 .

As can be seen in Table  1 , Google® searches revealed that ghost writing is extensively publicised online under different terms, for instance ghost writing, writing services etc. Interestingly in 2013 when this study began and with the use of the term ‘ghost writing’, phrases with ‘encouraging’ connotations, such as ‘how to ghost write’ or ‘ghost writing’ achieved a high number of hits, while corresponding ones with deterring connotations, as ‘detecting ghost writing’ or ‘problem with ghost writing’ had fewer hits. The most recent search in April 2016, however, revealed a few interesting points. First, the phrase ‘problem of ghost writing’ has increased its number of hits by 458 % (Table  1 , row 2). Also the number of hits for ‘ghost writing’ has risen by an impressive 1499 % (Table  1 , row 1). This trend not only reflects the increasing penetration and spreading of ghost writing but also increased awareness of this service. Interestingly, all the other entries, such as definition of ghost writing’, ‘how to ghost write’ ‘ghost writing in higher education’ and also ‘detecting ghost writing’ have been markedly reduced in number of hits [−21 % for ‘how to detect ghost writing’;−92 % for ‘how to ghost write’]. We would like to believe that these observations could be due to a universal tendency to use ‘contract cheating’ instead of ‘ghost-writer’.

A Google Scholar® search using the entire phrase ‘contract cheating’ which was performed on 15 April 2016 and excluded patents and citations, retrieved 197 articles. A large proportion of these were by Clarke and Lancaster. This was expected as these authors have presented pioneer work in this subject since 2006 and have since published several manuscripts (Clarke and Lancaster 2007 , 2009 , 2012 ). Simply changing the search term into ‘ghost writing’, but maintaining the exact search criteria retrieved 160 entries, mostly linked with ghost writing in the medical sector and industry-sponsored ghost writing on clinical trials.

Social media searches

Social media searches have revealed several small to medium size advertisements, blogs and chatting strings concerning these ‘writing services’. They were embedded as tweets, or Facebook® entries, which are linked to a home page. Some example screen shots are given in Fig.  1 .

Example advertisements from common social media websites

These advertisements are taken as screen-shots from social media and anonymised. Five of the anonymised advertisements are from ghost-writers 3, 4 and 5, 7 and 8, who were later interviewed.

Almost all of the examples in Fig.  1 are openly offering ‘writing help’ and appear to be addressing university students, both undergraduate and post-graduate. At least one writer has managed to post his advertisement on the common student Facebook® pages of a university. It is also interesting to note some are assuring, or claiming, that essays written by them would have less than 6 % Turnitin® similarity matches (white arrow in Fig.  1 , top left advertisement). This shows that these advertisers are fully aware of the use of text matching software in higher education (see section  Qualitative data obtained from Interviews ). Some offer discounts of up to 15 %, giving gift coupon codes (white arrow-head in Fig.  1 , bottom right advertisement). Others offer help with thesis write ups, even at PhD level.

Qualitative data obtained from Interviews

A total of twenty five ghost-writers were approached and ten (40 %) consented to be interviewed following a confidentiality agreement that their personal identification, location, age and sex not be disclosed. Their educational profiles are shown in Table  2 . Their qualifications are significant, with 90 % having a post-graduate Master’s degree and onea doctorate from Western Universities.

Reasons for ghost writing

Most of these services were started by students who returned to their home country after finishing post-graduate studies abroad. As a result of lack of employment in their field in their own country, some began as solos; others formed a consortium of friends from different fields of study. At least one interviewee claimed that s/he never intended to start this as a business model but continued after realising his/her first two assignments were highly successful. All of those interviewed felt that there was a high demand for ‘writers’. Commercial Essay Provider 1 held a doctorate in bioinformatics and had worked as a lecturer for a short period. During this time, s/he developed contacts with student communities. As for the incentive or reasons for starting this, s/he replied:

‘It was my own effort to start this service to our students studying overseas. I had utilized my acquired analytical and vocabulary skills to address the needs of our students.’

Similar answers were obtained from Amateur Writers 7 and 8.

Amateur Writer 4 stated:

‘One of my friends gives me projects to complete but I am planning to advertise through social networking sites.’

Although it appears these ‘writers’ started ad-hoc (mainly Commercial Essay Provider 1, 2, 9, and 10) they established a good network and were able to share projects and practices. Half of those interviewed advertise only in the social media as posts/tweets, not as advertisements. In contrast, others feel that advertising does not have an impact on their business and it is a waste of money.

Commercial Essay Provider 3 said:

‘Advertising through main internet servers does not have any impact in our promotion; also Google © have banned promotions for such report writing services.’

In their opinion (Commercial Provider 3), media can be used as a bridge for creating awareness and can also provide an opportunity to monitor market status. Eighty percent of the ghost-writers interviewed claimed they never used Google® for advertising. It should be noted that the initial Google® searches did reveal several ghost writing advertisements, many of which looked as if they came from professional Western organisations. There were also claims in Google® blogs by reformed ghost-writers that many Western paper mills outsourced their work to developing countries (Tamlyn, 2009 ). However none of the ghost-writers interviewed in this investigation seem to acquire ‘projects’ via this route. Their main forms of advertising are either through social media or personal contacts/networking. Considering claims from Tamlyn’s ( 2009 ) and other similar blogs ( Sydney media service ; Raven’s Blog 2013 ) and comparing responses from this study, it is clear that there might be three groups of online based ghost writing services: (a) established Western country-based providers, (b) Western country-based providers who outsource their contracts and (c) those based and run by former students of Western education who are now based in their native, non-Western countries. From the replies received, participants of this study fall into the third group. As stated above, their personalised approach via Facebook © or through contacts might have improved their business. When interviewed many of them said that their ‘service’ is valued by students.

Amateur Writer 4 who started his service recently, stated:

‘I mainly get projects through my references and contacts. Perhaps, my outstanding performances in various projects speak a lot, which I feel (is) better than commercial advertising’

However, Writer 4 did not deny that social media played a part in their ‘popularity’. In fact, everyone agreed that the probability of students going to them via referrals and contacts by word of mouth/social media was higher than through advertising. The interviews also revealed that these writers are highly successful. One consortium of writers proudly claimed (Commercial Essay Provider 5):

‘The frequency of our writing is constant and we get projects more frequently by any other means; so, our work and our service will fetch us further projects.’

Another writer (Amateur Writer 6) said:

‘It depends upon the needs of the students and university. As I am handling the services to all degree students, irrespective of their level of study, it will be busy all year around. For international dissertation services, it will be very busy during the months of June and January.’

Due to this high demand, this writer is now recruiting and training MSc/PhD holders from his own country. Seven writers admitted they have constant demand from both overseas and home students, the former being defined as those studying in overseas countries. As for expertise in a given subject, they share projects by networking, to ensure the is handled by an expert in subject’s essay. For example, if a bioscience project is acquired by a provider with social science expertise, they would refer this on to an individual with bioscience specialism and vice versa.


With respect to the reliability of their service, all interviewees had a clear understanding of academic writing and plagiarism avoidance. In fact some of them even use text matching detection software to reduce the percentage matches as they perfect their essays. An example email from a senior writer to their apprentice (Commercial Provider 3), highlighting the text matching issue with instructions to rephrase the essay and screen shots of a Turnitin © report, is given in Fig.  2 .

Example communication between ghost-writers regarding a Turnitin© report

An example email correspondence between writers within Commercial Essay Provider 3. Personal identifiers such as names, email addresses are removed as requested by the interviewee.

After showing this example, the provider (Commercial Essay Provider 3) quoted:

‘We train them (the apprentice) to meet the international standards and requirements. By doing this, we can deliver plagiarism-free services to our international clients and customers.’

The same provider admitted that they clearly advise students how to address academic misconduct investigations. They are clever enough to use the student’s (customer) name and their respective university registration numbers for Turnitin © checks, so if detected, the student can claim they had checked the assignment for accuracy before submission.

Considering the seriousness of the claim that some ghost-writers are using Turnitin® to reduce the percentage of text matches, the authors requested some of their (ghost-writers’) past ‘projects’ to validate this claim. All but one, including those who claimed to be using Turnitin®, refused to provide any essays. The single ghost-writer who agreed was Commercial Essay Provider number 2, who provided four pieces of his/her work, two each for in-country customers and for students in Western universities. These four essays were checked for authenticity using Turnitin® (Moodle Direct version 2.2.1) and the percentage matches are highlighted in Fig.  3 . The right hand panels, which have a high similarity index with other published sources, were apparently written for in-country customers. In contrast, the left hand panels with low similarity index were produced for students studying in Western countries.

Percentages matches of example articles supplied by the ghost-writers

Screen shots of Turnitin® reports on articles that are claimed to be written for international (panels A and C) and in-country students (panels B and D) are given on the left and right respectively. The percentage matches are 5 and 8 % for panels A and C respectively and 75 and 54 % for panels B and D respectively. Percentages are circled on the top right part of each panel.

It is interesting to note that within the country where this study was conducted, the number of Universities/Higher education institutions which actually make use of any form of text matching services or programmes to check for academic dishonesty is below 1 % (the data was arbitrarily collected from 100 university websites in that country). A potentially low level of detection may have been realised by these writers, who may be offering widely copied material to in-country students. Although the sample size is too limited to give a meaningful conclusion, this data points to a customer-focussed service being offered by these ghost-writers. They may be trying to offer customised essays to students in Western countries where academic honesty is properly checked, whilst for their in-country customers producing essays that just address learning outcomes by copying, or ‘ patch-working ’. Patch working is mixing and matching sections of other essays into a new one, rather than carefully reading and then paraphrasing content of the sources to create an original piece of work. It is interesting to note, that the author (Commercial Essay Provider 2) who supplied these essays, when confronted with this evidence denied the accusation that ghost-writers may be offering a two-tier customer service and claimed it was merely coincidental. Since this investigation only focussed on ghost-writing practices, their popularity and justifications, investigating this suspected two-tier service which is based on minimal evidence is beyond the scope of this study.

When prompted with the question about the morality of performing this service, the writers’ argument was that the process of ‘writing’ usually involves the customer (student). They maintained their service is merely carried out in the form of collaboration with the customer, with whom they have a constant dialogue, making the student read their drafts and comments so that understand the essay and fulfil its learning outcomes. In other words they are claiming their role is as ‘editors’ rather than ‘writers’. The following excerpt given by one of the ghost writing consortia (Commercial Essay Provider 5) summarises the attitude of these writers and clearly shows they know students’ weaknesses:

‘Although the students from this (anonymised) country are highly focussed on knowledge, they lag far behind when it comes to execution. This will mask their career growth. The main reason is that, they are not taught the importance of writing at preliminary levels. They are not aware of plagiarism. This is mainly due to the design of our (anonymised) educational system. Consequently, their research is not recognised in the international platform. We (the writers) are simply helping them to get recognised.’

Similar attitudes were observed in the answers of Commercial Providers 9 and 10. The writers understood the differences in expectations between Western and non-Western assessments and use these differences to enhance their business. They are committed to their customers, promise to write better essays, and avoid plagiarism. One writer (Commercial Essay Provider 2) even accused the university system and its assessment practices by quoting:

‘The lack of support from the university tutors with their (students) course work is the main reason for students to seek the assistance from us.’


The authors of this manuscript have found that these writing services are substantially cheaper than paper mills located in Europe, US or Australia, especially for an under/post-graduate who could afford to pay international tuition fees of the UK or USA. The charging practices differ from writer to writer. One (Commercial Essay Provider 3) claimed s/he charged the equivalent of 3 to 5 UK pence per word with a minimum charge of £100. This is important evidence that contradicts the common academic belief that ‘ students cannot afford to buy an essay from an essay-mill ’. The charges of the interviewed ghost-writers depend on the complexity of the project, from £150 for an undergraduate-level assignment to £1000 for a PhD thesis. Although some claimed they even wrote PhD theses, the authors were unable to gather any evidence for this.

Summary of findings and concluding remarks

Unlike plagiarism, there are no statistical data showing the extent of ghost writing amongst academics and students. This is justified by the difficulty in properly detecting these practices and possibly a general academic belief that ghost writing is not prevalent amongst university students. There is considerable published work on the subject of ghost writing/contract cheating (Clarke and Lancaster 2006 , 2012 ) but our work first aimed to explore the online ‘presence’ of ghost-writers and secondly to capture their styles and attitudes towards their business, as well as shedding some light on their operative ways and networking practices.

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work aiming to present collective opinions of a group of ghost-writers in an academic journal rather than a newspaper or blog. In this transformed world of communication, social networking plays a major part in discussing course-related matters amongst students of higher education (Roblyer et al. 2010 ; Connell 2009 ). Essay mills businesses have noticed the potential of these websites as an advertising platform (Todi 2008 ). The phenomenon of students using social networking sites to obtain educational support has already been described (Peluchette and Karl 2008 ; Roblyer et al. 2010 ), and the ghost-writers capitalize on this. They not only specifically yet discretely target large customer groups, but also twist its use to avoid creating a media outcry. Therefore, they endorse the strategy of posting for their ‘availability’ as a simple entry on the web, rather than tagging it as a proper advertisement. From our study, approximately 80 % realised that their services may not be legal and could be blocked by the service providers.

Unemployment, particularly for specialised graduates seems to serve as the incentive for these people to starting such ventures, clearly indicating that a coveted international education may not currently be suitable for their country of origin at least for the present time. As Teichler ( 2004 ) stated, internationalisation of education without addressing core competency requirements of a global market results in unemployment. The fact that these ghost-writers are relatively recent graduates (80 % of them graduated within the last 5 years) clearly proves Teichler’s point.

Another consequence of recent graduation is that these contract essay providers are accustomed to marking criteria, learning objectives and outcomes, and the overall styles required for assignments. In terms of originality, there are signs of a ‘two-tier’ service. One service is tailored to students in Western universities and includes the use of Turnitin © or similar programmes to detect/correct potential text matching issues. The second service is designed for in-country students and lacks any provision for plagiarism checks, as home universities lag behind in use of text matching software.

Regarding the question of ethics in academic writing, the writers’ arguments were somewhat varied. By showing evidence, some (at least 2) tried to prove customer involvement throughout the project and therefore argued it is not unethical or immoral. The rest justified their service as similar to English Language Editing (ELE) services offered by many journals. One of the ghost-writers (Amateur Writer 6) even pointed out that it has been a common practice by Western academics to hire grant writers, and questioned how their service is dissimilar to this. Quoting Fugh Berman’s ( 2005 ) manuscript about pharmaceutical industries using ghost written articles supporting the efficacy of new drug (before its release onto the market, (Commercial Provider 5) defended argument that ghost writing is a common and acceptable practice. They also questioned the authors ‘ why you (the authors) are only keen to investigate these practices in my country, instead of investigating the corporate ghost-writers of the West? ’

These findings may come as no surprise, but indicate that these interviewees have a clear understanding of their work. They know how to justify their existence as well as sustain and grow their business. As prices become affordable and business is growing, this new generation of ghost-writers is going to be a major challenge for the internationalised higher education system. Therefore it is necessary for institutions to focus and redesign their assessment strategies to remove the chances of ghost writing. A holistic approach, where the strategy of assessment by means of a written assignment as a ‘measure of learning’ is shifted to an approach that evaluate the ‘learning process’ through constant student engagement and input. Different levels of organisation are required from all involved stakeholders, including the students and the Government (Clarke and Lancaster 2007 , 2009 ). Academic tutors need to tailor their assessment methods so that the process, as well as the outcome are assessed. It is also possible to have a test linked to an assignment, for example testing an element of the product, or to introduce team work activities. The latter was successfully introduced by the first author in his own institution. Administrative and IT staff can also be involved to perform regular checks on student fora, University websites and discussion pages.

University management needs to put in place a clear code of conduct and policies to deal with all the aspects of ghost writing, from detection to penalties to the involved student. Policy making can also be requested at Government level, which could result in cancelling the VISA of an overseas student who is proven culpable.

Obviously, dealing with contract cheating is not easy, especially in today’s large departments and classes, but with the introduction of an array of measures and fostering of an altered perspective by students, ghost writing could be, at least to some extent, deterred.

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The authors would like to thank Dr Christopher Terrell-Nield, Nottingham Trent University for his editorial help and constructive criticisms throughout this study. The authors also wish to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback on this manuscript.

The study was internally funded by the Nottingham Trent University.

Disclaimer statement

A part of this study was presented in the ‘Plagiarism across Europe and beyond 2015’ conference at Mendel University in Brno, Czech Republic June 10th-12th 2015. Therefore some findings were published as a proceeding manuscript from this conference.

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Shiva Sivasubramaniam, Kalliopi Kostelidou & Sharavan Ramachandran

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Correspondence to Shiva Sivasubramaniam .

Additional information

Competing interests.

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

All authors contributed extensively to the work presented in this manuscript. SDS designed the research plan, organised the study and assisted in the analysis. SR carried out the survey and interviews; he also analysed the data and drafted the manuscript. KK has carried out the online based searches, addressed the issues pointed out by the reviewers and made the final draft. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ information

Shiva Sivasubramaniam (SDS) is principal lecturer and Subject lead for Pharmacology. He has been an active researcher in developing novel approaches in teaching biomedical sciences. His pedagogic research interests include (a) internationalisation; (b) Student centred teaching, (c) peer-assisted learning and (b) plagiarism deterrence. Working closely with the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and Plagiarism Advisory Services (PAS), he has addressed student education by enhancing academic writing and graduate attributes. This has resulted in several publications in HEA and PAS conferences. He has also been involved in developing several post-graduate courses to suit the needs of international students without affecting the experience of home/EU students. In addition he has developed innovative teaching techniques to educate under- and post-graduate students and plagiarism deterrence.

Kalliopi Kostelidou (KK) is a lecturer/sabbatical assistant for the corresponding author.

Professor of Biochemistry, Department of Life and Health Sciences, School of Sciences. Her research interests include microbiology and pedagogic development. She is currently working to develop distance learning modules at post-graduate level. She is also involved in corresponding author’s current research to develop methodologies to enhance student involvement.

Sharavan Ramachandran (SR) holds an MSc –Research degree in Bimolecular sciences from the Nottingham Trent University. He worked as a research assistant to SDS during this study. He is currently pursuing a PhD degree in molecular bioscience.

Appendix – some example questions asked during the interview

A. The Background (reasons for starting/joining)

What was the main reason for starting this service?

Were you confident that you had the experience and/or expertise to start this project?

When you started this project how many others were involved?

B. Popularity and accessibility

How many projects per month do you usually undertake?

How do you advertise? (Whether you advertise? or do students contact you?)

How do you network? Do you share expertise? If so, how do you allocate/share projects? Are staff well trained to meet the International Standards?

C. Reliability and affordability

What is your price range? And why do you think it is appropriate?

Who decides on price? You or the customer?

Do you think your price range is affordable by home/international students?

D. Views on academic dishonesty and plagiarism

Do you know about academic dishonesty? What is your view regarding plagiarism?

Do you think that your services contravene the code of practice in academic writing? If not, why?

Do you take steps to avoid plagiarism in your projects? If so, how?

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Sivasubramaniam, S., Kostelidou, K. & Ramachandran, S. A close encounter with ghost-writers: an initial exploration study on background, strategies and attitudes of independent essay providers. Int J Educ Integr 12 , 1 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-016-0007-9

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DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-016-0007-9

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Please note you do not have access to teaching notes, profiling the international academic ghost writers who are providing low-cost essays and assignments for the contract cheating industry.

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN : 1477-996X

Article publication date: 19 October 2018

Issue publication date: 8 March 2019

Students have direct access to academic ghost writers who are able to provide for their assessment needs without the student needing to do any of the work. These ghost writers are helping to fuel the international industry of contract cheating, raising ethical dilemmas, but not much is known about the writers, their business or how they operate. This paper aims to explore how the ghost writers market their services and operate, based on observable information.


This paper reviews data from providers actively offering contract cheating services available to the public on Fiverr.com, a low-cost micro outsourcing site. The search term write essay is used to identify providers, finding 103 Gigs from 96 unique providers. Visible information, such as provider marketing, advertised services, pricing information and customer reviews, is analysed.

The results demonstrate that bespoke essays are readily available to students at a low cost. The majority of providers operate from Kenya. Revenue calculations indicate a price point of US$31.73 per 1,000 words, below the cost of traditional essay mills, but show that these 96 providers have generated around US$270,000 of essay writing business between them.


This study affords a look into a complex and established industry whose inner workings are normally kept private and for which little published information currently exists. The research adds to what is known about the extent, location and operation of the contract cheating industry.

  • Academic integrity
  • Contract cheating
  • Essay mills
  • Micro outsourcing

Lancaster, T. (2019), "Profiling the international academic ghost writers who are providing low-cost essays and assignments for the contract cheating industry", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society , Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 72-86. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-04-2018-0040

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Ghostwriters in the scientific world

Sankalp yadav.

1 General Duty Medical Officer-II, Department of Medicine & TB, Chest Clinic Moti Nagar, New Delhi, India

Gautam Rawal

2 Associate Consultant, Department, of Respiratory Intensive Care, Max Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi, India

The scientific world is facing a constant problem of ghostwriters. These ghostwriters are often attached to the medical publishing houses and are involved in writing an article for a pharmaceutical company which may, in turn, use the name of an established or a famous scientist as an author to the article. Often, such articles are published in well-known journals and are circulating widely. Many a time the adverse effects are overlooked in such papers. This will result in a corrupt practice of prescribing a drug which is not scientifically useful or may have life-threatening side effects. In this present article, the authors discuss this evil practice of ghostwriting in the context of the present day scientific publishing.


The scientific writing is an important part of the skill and career development [ 1 ]. The scientific world is full of medical journal publishing articles that lay the foundation of the future practice of medicine. However, in the context of this, there is a continuing problem of ghostwriting [ 2 ]. The term ghost authorship means that an individual who contributed substantially to a manuscript is not named in the byline or acknowledgments [ 2 , 3 ]. The ghostwriters came after the development of professional medical writers in the late 20 th century [ 4 ]. There are thousands of such medical/ghost writers around the globe [ 4 ]. The international organizations like the International Committee for Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) do not even acknowledge their existence [ 4 ]. As per the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA), the ghostwriter is the one who prepares a manuscript for an author, but the writer is not given an authorship [ 5 ]. The whole concept of ghostwriting could have been based on the need for the conversion of the raw data to an intelligible document [ 4 ]. However, it has been abused to a greater extent and even established biomedical journals are not spared [ 4 , 6 ]. A study reported that even the Cochrane Reviews has 39% of authors who do not qualify to be the real authors and do not match the authorship guidelines set by the ICJME and of this 11% were ghost authors [ 7 , 8 ]. In this paper the authors, highlight the issues associated with ghostwriting.

The authors searched the term “ghost author”, “ghostwriter” and “ghost authorship” on Google and read the scholarly articles. Besides, a similar search was made on the PubMed to study the gravity of this problem looming large in the scientific world. A detailed overview of this malpractice and possible solutions are suggested in this paper.

The extent of ghostwriting is very wide. The ghostwritten industry-sponsored articles are a common unethical practice and continue to plague biomedical journals which publish industry-sponsored research [ 9 - 12 ]. Healy reported that the major amount of pharmaceutical articles was ghostwritten [ 13 ]. Flanagin et al. 1998, reported that a substantial proportion of articles (up to 11%) in six peer-reviewed medical journals demonstrate evidence of ghost authors [ 14 ]. Stretton 2014, in her paper, reported the details of six cross-sectional surveys in which the prevalence of possible ghostwriting varied from 0.9% to 24.1% [ 12 , 14 - 18 ]. Also, four cross-sectional survey publications reported the prevalence of ghostwriting/author varied from 0.7% to 70% of publications or authors [ 12 ]. As per the recent studies in the British Journal of Psychiatry and the JAMA, around 11% to 50% of the articles on pharmaceuticals that appear in the major biomedical journals may actually be ghostwritten [ 19 , 20 ]. In a detailed study Gøtzsche et al 2007, reported the extent to be around 75% [ 21 ].

Why ghostwriting ? The extent of ghostwriting is very large [ 22 ]. The majority of the scientific data that becomes available due to a large number of researches going in the various fields needs to be converted into a presentable scientific document [ 23 ]. One way to do so is by the use of professional medical writers who ethically help the researchers to bring the raw data into an intelligible document [ 23 ]. The other is by Medical Education and Communications Company or MECC, that includes a number of professional experts in the field of scientific writing and editing [ 23 , 24 ]. These MECC is industry funded and is paid to write articles in favor of the products of the company [ 24 ]. However, if the legitimate services of medical writing agencies or independent writers are used for the vested interest in order to write something for a product or drug overlooking the adverse effects then this constitutes the ghostwriting [ 23 ]. Many times the ghostwriters are funded by the big pharmaceutical companies [ 24 ]. The main principle for this practice is that the pharmaceutical companies fund the ghostwriters to prepare the manuscript which is forwarded to an established scientist in the field who may or may not be allowed to make changes and in turn, is sent to a reputed journal for publication [ 24 ]. The expert scientist is sometimes not even aware of the funding for this malpractice [ 22 ]. These industry-funded ghostwritten articles are aimed to bring the positive side of the drug and many a time overlooking the adverse effects of the drug [ 24 ]. The reputed journals are often chosen, as this brings credibility to the scientific data in the paper [ 22 ]. The higher the repute of the journal bigger will be its audience and higher will be the number of citations, thus adding weight to the actual paper [ 22 ]. The manuscript published is circulated all over the world and in this way the pharmaceutical companies make huge profits from the sales of the drug recommended by an expert in a reputed journal [ 24 ]. It has been well reported in the medical literature that the ghostwriters have been paid huge funds [ 22 , 25 ].

Some famous examples : The grave problem of ghostwriting is evident by really famous examples like the marketing of drugs Fen-Phen, SSRIs, Neurontin, Zoloft, Redux, Vioxx, etc [ 22 , 25 , 26 ]. The manuscripts which were published on these drugs were ghostwritten and the side-effects were totally ignored [ 22 ]. The ghostwritten papers were in large quantities, thus ensuring a favorable outcome in support of the investigational drug even if the efficacy of the drug is reviewed by a meta-analysis [ 22 ]. The actual problem with the whole process of ghostwriting is grave because of non-transparency in the data presented [ 13 ]. Resulting in serious ramifications on the public health [ 24 ]. The ghostwriting has been also considered as an institutionalized plagiarism [ 22 ]. However, there are guidelines which recommend that anybody involved in the plagiarism should be subjected to strict disciplinary action [ 22 ]. These punishments could even involve the retraction of the paper [ 1 ]. But only a small number of all the retracted articles are ever annulled due to plagiarism [ 1 ]. The EMWA recommends that the authors of the biomedical papers should be in full control of the papers even if the same is written by an expert medical writer [ 5 ]. The role of medical writers should be clearly defined and mentioned either as an author in a review paper (if a substantial contribution is there and willingness to share responsibility is present) or in the acknowledgements or the contributors' section [ 5 , 27 - 30 ]. The interaction between the professional writers and the real authors of a manuscript should be clearly defined using the GATE principles based on the Guarantee, Advice, Transparency, and Expertise as defined elsewhere [ 23 , 28 ]. But the huge amount of funds involved in the ghostwriting and the same provided to the experts just for the sake of taking their name for a biased research, usually funded by a big industry is resulting in dubious data being published in reputed journals thereby putting the public health in jeopardy [ 24 ]. The importance of ethical authorship and good publication practices is extremely important [ 31 ]. The malpractice of ghostwriting is not only present in the pharmaceutical articles, but the same is present in academia as well [ 31 ]. The journals and the medical publishing houses have to take radical steps to curb this problem of ghostwriting [ 23 ]. The industries that fund these will never control it [ 22 ]. The peer-reviewed data are an important part of making health care paradigms and thus the false information will lead to serious consequences on the public health [ 2 ]. The impact could be devastating, especially in the developing countries with low expenditure on health and where the per capita income is low and where the problem of corruption is very big [ 32 , 33 ].

The good aspects of professional medical writing : There is a small but clear line of demarcation between a professional medical writer and a ghostwriter [ 23 ]. Although the ghostwriting is having serious impacts on the science, there are some good points in favor of an ethical medical writer, if appropriately acknowledged [ 19 ]. First, an assisted scientific writing brings the results of the research to the public which, if left to senior clinicians would never be reported due to their busy schedule [ 23 , 19 ]. Also, it has been observed that the senior clinicians may not be familiar with the details of the literature to produce a timely and comprehensive text [ 23 , 28 ]. Secondly, the overall paper quality will be superior due to professional writing as the medical writers are the specialist in writing a manuscript [ 23 , 19 ]. Third, based on the scientific data the adverse drug reactions could well be reported comprehensively in an industry-sponsored research [ 19 , 34 ]. Fourth, that some professional writing agencies may disclose the conflicts of interest more clearly [ 19 ]. Fifth, the clinicians, especially from developing countries have a huge burden of clinical works in addition to the research work and thus the services of professional medical writers will help with the publication of their work and thus will be made available to the general public [ 23 ]. This is also supported by the fact that every year the reputed journals return several important manuscripts for revision or even reject them due to poor writing styles, poor organization of the content and even poor English and grammar [ 23 , 35 , 36 ]. Sixth, the professional writers bring clarity to the articles as if the same may be lacking, then the actual idea that the authors want to communicate may be lost [ 23 , 37 , 38 ]. The professional medical writers are legitimate contributors to the article [ 39 , 40 ]. They are a blessing while ghostwriters are intellectually dishonest, unethical and a curse [ 41 ].

To control this problem, a group of medical writers developed the EMWA [ 42 ]. The purpose of EMWA is to identify the issues with the malpractice of ghostwriting in scientific literature and also to suggest the ways to curb it [ 42 ]. The ghostwriting can be controlled if the stakeholders like journals, authors, medical writing agencies and the agencies involved in supervising the publications work in unison [ 23 , 43 ]. At any stage of the peer review if any, involvement of ghostwriter is suspected by the reviewers then the same should be reported to the editors [ 23 ]. The editors must ensure that a contributorship statement is submitted by the authors [ 23 ]. The section for instruction to authors should include guidance for authorship and acknowledgement [ 23 ]. The ICJME has published important criteria for authorship and also the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) developed a specific policy on ghostwriting [ 41 , 44 ]. Besides, the function of the medical writer in preparing biomedical journal manuscripts is of interest to task forces convened by American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and EMWA and has resulted in articles of guidelines for medical writers in preparing the scientific documents [ 4 ]. Even after the presence of guidelines, it is very difficult to identify any involvement of an industry in the preparation of any manuscript. Also, if the industry has funded the research and has hired the writing agency then the published paper may become more authentic if the raw data on which the paper is based is also made available to the scientific community for an unbiased analysis and interpretation [ 45 ]. The ghostwriting has really gone to the roots of scientific research and efforts to control it are imperative.

What is known about this topic

  • Ghostwriting is prevalent in scientific literature and is underreported;
  • Large publication houses are also affected;
  • Reputed researchers are the target.

What this study adds

  • The extent of ghostwriting is between 0.9%-75%;
  • A substantial amount of scientific papers are ghostwritten, policy changes need to include strategies to reduce ghost authorship, in order to curb the overall extent of ghostwriting;
  • Emphasis on the development of guidelines similar to those developed by European Medical Writers Association (EMWA), throughout the world to control the malpractice of ghostwriting in scientific literature.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

All the authors have read and agreed to the final manuscript.

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10 Best Ghostwriting Services (2024)

  • Philip Ghezelbash
  • July 18, 2022

Today a lot of content is ghostwritten. You hire a writer or writers to write content for you, and then you publish the content under another name, either a person’s or organization’s name. Ghostwriting was initially popularized in traditional publishing but has remained standard practice in content marketing.

What are ghostwriting services?

Ghostwriting services provide companies with written content published under a name other than the person who wrote it. For example, a company may order 100 blog posts from a ghostwriting service and publish them on their website under their staff members’ names.

Ghostwriting services provide different content types; some focus on marketing-related content such as articles, product descriptions, and white papers, while others focus on fiction works such as books or nonfiction books and biographies. 

Why work with a ghostwriting service?

Working with a ghostwriting service is helpful if you don’t have the time to write the content yourself, or you may not have the skills to write well. Suppose you’re not naturally a strong writer. In that case, having dedicated writers can help improve your ability to communicate your message to your audience. If you don’t have the time to write, a ghostwriting service can take care of writing so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

Best ghostwriting services

If you’re looking for a ghostwriting service to use for the content you need, finding the right service provider can be challenging, as there are so many to choose from. We’ve listed some of the best ghostwriting services to make things easier.

1. Writing Studio

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Writing Studio is a ghostwriting company that offers various writing services, including ghostwriting articles, SEO content, white papers, eBooks, press releases, and product descriptions. We’re a great place to start if you’re looking for a trusted and reliable partner to ghostwrite content for you regularly.

At Writing Studio, our mission is to help companies create better content faster. We aim to make things as hands-off as possible for you so that you can order content and receive it ready to publish. We have writers with subject matter expertise in countless industries and can deliver content at scale. To learn more about how we can help you with your writing needs, please visit our website and get in touch.

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Verblio is a well-known blog and content creation service. They have a large platform with vetted writers where you can order ghostwritten search-friendly blog content at scale. With writers in various industries and an extensive network of writers, Verblio is a great place to order blog content at scale. 

Verblio offers clear and transparent fixed pricing making it easy to budget your monthly blogging needs, and takes measures to ensure quality, such as checking for plagiarism on your behalf. While Verblio primarily advertises itself as a blog and SEO-writing service, they also write other content types such as white papers, press releases, and eBooks. 

3. ContentWriters

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ContentWriters is a leading content writing agency that offers fully managed ghostwriting services. They have a platform where you can order various content types, such as blog posts, product descriptions, press releases, and social media posts. Then they will carefully select the appropriate writers for the job, and the content will be written, edited by the editors, and sent to you for approval within the platform.

You can order as a ‘self-service’ which is cheaper, or if you have more extensive content needs, you can work with a dedicated account manager who will take care of your regular writing requirements. ContentWriters serve every major industry, including health, automotive, law, and more.

4. The Book Butchers

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The Book Butchers is a ghostwriting/editing service with a team of skilled editors and ghostwriters who have decades of experience transforming books into masterpieces. With comments about them like “insanely talented book editors”, you can rest assured that your book will stand out against the rest.

The editors on their team hold at least an MA in Literature and two years of writing/editing experience. The Book Butcher’s team are skilled at advanced story structure and can bring out the hidden value of your manuscript to make it into the best seller it deserves to be! While they don’t have a fancy marketplace platform, they have the talent the marketplaces wish they had.

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Upwork is a freelance platform where you can hire writers. There are tens of thousands of writers on Upwork; some don’t ghostwrite content, but plenty will. Because the network of writers is so extensive, you’ll be able to find writers with specialties in virtually all industries, from healthcare to cryptocurrency. Furthermore, some writers charge less than $20 per hour, and others charge well over $100, meaning no matter your budget range, it should be easy to find a suitable writer for your needs.

Getting set up with Upwork is easy. You post a job, wait for freelancers to apply, and then choose which you want to work with. You can also invite specific writers interested in applying directly to your job post.

6. Scripted

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Scripted is a freelance writing platform that provides you access to a large pool of writers for hire. It’s kind of like Upwork but specifically centered around freelance writers. You pay a monthly subscription fee for access to the platform, and then you can work with individual freelancers there to sort out your project’s specifics, including rates.

Scripted has a huge pool of writers, which means that you can find freelancers specializing in any industry and writers that can write most content types (everything from articles for your blog to social media posts for LinkedIn). Furthermore, Scripted also offers managed services for companies that want everything taken care of on their behalf as additional monthly service fees. 

7. Express Writers

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Express Writers is another writing service that provides various content types ghostwritten. You can order everything from blog posts to web pages, social media posts, and email copy here. Something that sets Express Writers apart from other providers is that you can decide whether you want ‘specialty’ content or ‘authority’ content. If you require content written by subject matter experts, you can pay a higher fee for that expertise guarantee.

If you need content that isn’t so technical, you can pay less for ghostwriters with less technical expertise who can still write well. Express Writers have a content shop that provides a simple process to order content on their website quickly. Unlike some companies, they also ensure all your ghostwritten content is fully edited and proofread by their editorial team.

8. Semrush Marketplace

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Semrush Marketplace is a ghostwriting service platform that offers a range of content types, including blog articles, press releases, product descriptions, and more. Here you can seamlessly order content on their marketplace and then have it delivered within a few days to review.

One unique benefit of Semrush Marketplace is that you get access to a range of SEO tools offered by Semrush (a leading provider of various SEO and content marketing tools). The platform is easy to use, has transparent and reasonable pricing, and offers a good range of cotnent types, all of which are entirely ghostwritten and private per their terms.

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Brafton is a content marketing agency that provides writing services as a core part of its solutions. They can write many content types, including blog posts, white papers, eBooks, and landing pages. Brafton doesn’t offer fixed pricing like many other companies and requires you to inquire about their services to get a specific quote. They provide custom services depending on your needs.

Brafton’s writers are all domain experts and cover various industries. One benefit of Brafton is that they don’t just provide writing as a service; they can also help with the strategy, planning, and distribution of content to help with multiple aspects of your marketing campaigns. 

10. The Urban Writers

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The Urban Writers is a ghostwriting company that can help write many types of content such as fiction and nonfiction books, SEO articles, Children’s books, book descriptions, and more.

The Urban Writers offers a user-friendly platform where you can post your project and gain access to hundreds of vetted and specialized writers. The platform also offers live order tracking, so you never miss an update, a freelancer search tool to browse written profiles, and the ability to build teams with your favorite go-to freelancers. While The Urban Writers looks great, their rates are pretty low, so they may not offer the highest quality.

The bottom line

There are many ghostwriting services available. Ultimately, the right ghostwriting solution depends on factors such as your budget, the type of content you’re looking for, the industry you’re in, whether you require other services apart from writing, and how closely you want the company to work with your team. Hopefully, this list has made making a choice easier.

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Work at a monotonous job that forces me to check my genuine self at the door in the name of security? Not for me. 

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Holy Ghosted: Spiritual Anxiety, Religious Trauma, and the Language of Abuse - Tiffany Yecke Brooks, PhD GraceStory Podcast

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Home / Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs / Online Bachelor’s (BA) in English Degree / Creative Jobs for English Majors / How to Become a Ghostwriter

How to Become a Ghostwriter How to Become a Ghostwriter How to Become a Ghostwriter

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Bookstores and library shelves are teeming with autobiographies by world-class athletes, corporate moguls, A-list celebrities, and media personalities from across the globe. However, it’s a safe bet that many of those books were written by a ghostwriter — someone other than the person whose name is on the cover.

Skilled ghostwriters are in high demand across many industries and professions. These behind-the-scenes authors not only create works of nonfiction but also write speeches; craft book proposals; and publish internet content, including blogs and tweets. Given these diverse opportunities — and the fact that ghostwriters can work as freelancers or employees — it’s no wonder that people want to know how to become a ghostwriter.

With all of these opportunities, ghostwriting has the potential to be a dynamic and fulfilling career pursuit, especially if the aspiring ghostwriter has the essential knowledge and skills learned in a degree program such as Maryville University’s  online Bachelor of Arts in English .

A ghostwriter wearing headphones has an online conversation with a client.

What does a ghostwriter do?

A ghostwriter is a writer, usually a freelancer or an independent contractor, who creates written content credited to someone else. The range of projects a ghostwriter may take on include articles, books, webpages, blogs, social media posts, and even songs.

The goal of writing on behalf of someone else is to capture the person’s story in a way that’s engaging and accessible to the intended audience. It entails combining one’s writing skills — outlining, creative language, brand voice — with someone else’s knowledge and experience to create a compelling final product.

Subjects can include famous athletes, actors, political figures, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, or anyone with widespread public recognition or a story to tell. They typically call on the services of a ghostwriter because they lack the confidence, time, or patience required to complete the work. Ghostwriters who work for corporations help shape a company’s message to align with target audiences, corporate values, and brand voice.

An important part of becoming a ghostwriter is knowing how to grow your network and finding new clients to write for. This can be accomplished by reaching out to clients directly; working with an agency that can funnel work your way; or getting referrals from individuals in your network, typically people you worked with in the past.

Steps to become a ghostwriter

The first step toward a career as a ghostwriter is to earn an undergraduate degree, such as a bachelor’s degree in English. Though a bachelor’s degree isn’t required to find work in the field, the knowledge and skills developed through postsecondary education can help prepare an aspiring ghostwriter to thrive.

The second step in how to become a ghostwriter is to gain work experience. However, before aspiring ghostwriters can find work, they need to prove they have the talent to produce good material. Aspiring ghostwriters can demonstrate this by compiling a portfolio of work samples. The items featured in their portfolios don’t need to be published; the material just needs to be of high enough quality that it could be published. To gain experience, one can take on small projects from freelance websites, such as Fiverr, Upwork, and WriterBay.com, or reach out to clients and agencies directly.

The third step is to expand your network. While networking can begin in school, most successful networking comes once writers start working and are completing professional assignments. To thrive as a ghostwriter, it’s important to make new professional connections, trade contact information, and attend industry-related conferences and conventions.

As aspiring ghostwriters meet the steps outlined above, they’ll also be cultivating skills such as critical thinking, determination, and social awareness that can ultimately lead to professional success.

Ghostwriter salary and job outlook

While it’s difficult to arrive at a standard salary or going rate for ghostwriters, here are some factors that typically influence how much they get paid for their work.

A ghostwriter’s income may depend on the length of the project. Writing a memoir, for example, takes much more time and energy than composing a couple of pages of social media content. Ghostwriters with impressive portfolios or many years of experience tend to command higher salaries. Education can also make a difference, along with the employer type.

Keeping all this in mind, the median annual salary for writers and authors (the category most relevant to ghostwriting) was $67,120 as of May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, salaries can range widely: The lowest 10% of earners made less than $35,880, while the highest 10% made upward of $133,460 during the same period. While the decrease in print media has reduced job availability in certain writing fields, writers who’ve learned to find work online have an advantage in the market over peers who’ve been slower to adapt.

Write your own future

Used effectively, words possess incredible power. They can transform ways of thinking, expand horizons, and illuminate different perspectives. With the confidence gained by completing a well-crafted program, such as Maryville’s  online Bachelor of Arts in English , you can pursue a career as a ghostwriter, working with fascinating people and writing about exciting things.

With a  curriculum  that features courses such as Advanced Creative Writing and Writing About Literature, Maryville’s program will immerse you in coursework designed to teach you how to become a ghostwriter, leverage your writing abilities, and cultivate the confidence to succeed. Take the first step today.

Recommended Reading

The Art of Writing: Editor vs. Author

The Writer’s Online Toolkit

Writing for the Screen: How to Write a Movie Screenplay

Forbes, “Seven Secrets to Hiring a Great Business Ghostwriter”

MasterClass, “Complete Guide to Ghostwriting: 4 Types of Ghostwriting”

MasterClass, “How to Become a Ghostwriter: 5 Steps for Finding Ghostwriting Work”

The Balance Careers, “The Profession of Ghostwriting”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Writers and Authors”

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Posted on Aug 12, 2022

21 Ghostwriting Tips from Bestselling Ghostwriters

Ghostwriting is a booming industry with many opportunities for development for the savvy writer; you may not get to put your name on your work, but you do get to help authors realize their publishing dreams, while often making a pretty penny.

Whether you’re already an active ghost writing content for others, or you’re looking to start on your ghostwriting journey, this article contains advice on how to improve your skills from some of Reedsy’s top ghosts.

Are you an author looking for tips on how to hire a ghostwriter ? Look no further — Reedsy has some of the top ghostwriters in the industry.

Guiding your clients

Some authors who want to hire you as a ghostwriter may not know what type of services they’re looking for or what you can do for them. Acting as a guide to publishing and ghostwriting is an important part of the job. Here are a few things you can do to point your clients in the right direction:

1. Find out what services your clients actually need

It’s great if your client already knows what they want, but you’ll also get a fair share of requests from authors who understandably know very little about the process. It’s in both your own and your client’s interest that you spend some time guiding them about what the process will look like and what services they might need, so have a conversation before you agree to take on their project to assess their needs and make sure you’re a good fit. 

There are, for instance, many types or ‘levels’ of ghostwriting with many different names, so make sure the terminology is clear.

Some clients want you to write every single word for them, either because they feel like they don’t have the necessary skills to translate their ideas into writing, or because they don’t have the time (or inclination). Some clients have a rough manuscript and just want you to bridge the gaps. Determining this before you start saves you a lot of potential trouble in the long run.

2. Set realistic expectations

Another part of guiding clients is making sure that they have realistic expectations for what a ghost can do for them. 

For Seth Kaufman , a ghostwriter who is well-versed in writing bestsellers, setting expectations is key to a happy collaboration, but he also notes that this can be a tricky topic: “As a ghost, you want work and you want your client to succeed. But you also want clients to have a sense of reality.” Sometimes, the publishing market can be fickle, and even a well-written book by the best ghostwriter in the world is not always a straight ticket to success. 

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In short, don’t make any promises you can’t keep about bestsellers or literary prizes. The most you can guarantee is a well-polished manuscript, and from there, it’s in the author’s hands. Pointing them towards resources on how to market a book and getting the word out can be one good way to set expectations and remind your authors that writing is only half the battle.



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3. Refer the author to other professionals when needed

Sometimes you discover that you’ve been approached by an author who is actually looking for something other than ghostwriting, or that they need additional services after your part of the collaboration is finished.

This has happened to award-winning ghost Nicola Cassidy on several occasions: 

Often I'm approached by somebody who asks for a ghostwriter, but when we delve deeper, we find that what they need is a mentor or writing consultant, or even a developmental editor.

Referring them to other professionals instead of hawking your own services (and risk doing a poor job) is a good way to build a reputation for excellence and professionalism. The author will appreciate your honesty and integrity, and you get to focus on projects where you can shine. This can also help you build a network with other professionals, who are more likely to recommend your services whenever they find themselves in similar situations. 

Don't have a network of fellow publishing pros yet? Luckily, Reedsy has done the hard work for you. Our marketplace selection criteria means we only accept 5% of the publishing professionals who apply, and you can feel comfortable recommending any   book editor or marketer  on our platform to authors.

Finding projects that are a good fit

As a ghostwriter, you’re always looking for the next big project to take on — ideally, something that you’ll both enjoy working on, and that will be a good addition to your portfolio. But how do you assess whether a project will be a good fit for you? Our ghosts advise you to:

4. Look for authors who are flexible

When a project lands in your inbox, you might want to look beyond the author’s vision for the manuscript, and try to get a sense of whether you’ll actually enjoy working together. Ghostwriting projects tend to be extensive so this initial time investment can help you avoid being stressed and miserable throughout the project because of poor chemistry.

New York Times bestselling ghost Toni Robino urges other ghosts to “consider whether the author is someone you want to spend a significant amount of time with for the next nine to twelve months, because it’s a really intimate process.”

If you’ve ever read any advice on how to become a ghostwriter , you know that being flexible is a central part of the job description — ghosts need to be able to adapt to the author’s voice and vision. But it’s also important to remember that your client needs to be receptive to your input, and ghosts should also look for a degree of flexibility in potential clients. 

Be careful when dealing with authors who think they have the greatest story ever and you must do it their way. I like to find out how flexible they are to changes in their story. If they're not, best to let someone else deal with them … I recently quit a project and returned the money because the author was so emotionally tied to the story that he was unwilling to accept any variations on the theme. — Rob MacGregor

As ghostwriters, MacGregor continues, you have to balance making the most of your own knowledge and skills with the client’s concern that they’ll lose control of their story. You need to be able to tell clients why something isn’t working and — importantly — why, while also trying to stick close to (and respect) their vision.

5. Do a trial chapter

One way to get a sense of how the collaboration will go and what a client is like to work with is to offer a (paid) trial chapter. Eileen Rendahl , an expert in ghostwriting genre fiction, reminisces that: 

The one contract I’ve had blow up in my face was one where the client didn’t think we needed to do a trial chapter. It would have saved us both a lot of time, money, and heartache if we’d done one. It gives [clients] a chance to see what you would do with their material. It gives you a chance to see what they’re like to work with and what kind of material you’ll be working with.

Another option is, as MacGregor suggests, to start with an outline as a separate project. If it turns out it’s not a good fit, both author and ghostwriter have the option to go separate ways after the outline is completed. The author will have an outline to work from, and the ghost will be paid for the time it took to develop it — win win.


Ghostwriting Proposal Template

Lay out your rates, deliverables, and timeline with a professional template.

6. Make sure they’re actually ready to roll.

Once you’ve taken the time to properly assess the project and you feel confident about taking it on, confirm whether the author is actually ready to start working on it right away, so you can plan your workload accordingly. 

Rendahl is adamant on this point:

Stuff happens. People get busy. It’s totally understandable, but when you’ve said no to other projects because you’ve blocked time for that one just to find out that you can’t start work on it, it can throw your work schedule and your bank account off in unpleasant ways.

Some authors may think that they’re ready to go, but may not actually have all the material that you need for the project. Be clear when you’re communicating with them about what sort of information they need to provide before you block out time to work on it. If they don’t have it, that’s OK, but tell them to get back in touch when they do.

7. Be open-minded, but avoid projects that clash with your beliefs too much

In addition to being flexible, ghostwriters need to be open-minded and non-judgemental. Part of the job description is to communicate the author’s opinions and make sure their arguments are made as clearly as possible — not to insert your own thoughts into the work. Being able to work with people who think differently than you is a great strength and might even teach you something along the way. 

I think you have to be pretty much an empath if you're going to ghostwrite people's books. You have to have an understanding of people's psychology — and, of course, you absolutely cannot be judgmental. — Sandra Cain

With that said, it’s not a good idea to take on a project that goes against your beliefs to the extent that you don’t feel comfortable working on it. In those cases, Rob MacGregor advises you to decline and let someone else take on the project. If the ideas and opinions are contrary to your own and your heart’s not in it, you’re unlikely to produce quality work or enjoy the process.

8. Sometimes it’s OK to withdraw from a project

Call it Murphy’s Law or what have you, but even the most meticulous research and preparations can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to avoid dud projects. Sometimes it takes working on it for a while before you realize that it’s not a good fit, and sometimes life simply gets in the way. Whatever the reason, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and your client is to amicably part ways. 

If that happens, clear contracts are key.

Writing contracts and setting rates

Educating your clients and making sure the project is a good fit for you are good first steps towards successful collaborations. But before you actually start working, it’s essential that you put the scope of the project officially into writing as well. This will protect both you and the author in case either of you need to walk away from the project, or if issues arise. 

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9. Determine the scope of the project, and stick to it

Between the different types of ghostwriting out there — doctoring, full ghost, deep ghost, etc. — and setting clear expectations, most of the ghostwriters we speak to emphasize the importance of making the scope of the project clear in order to avoid confusion, or worse, disappointment. 

But it’s not always the author who may need to be reminded of what the scope is and sticking to it, according to Rendahl’s own experiences: 

If [the author has] already written something and just want you to flesh it out or smooth it out, rein yourself in. It’s tempting to fix everything, but sometimes they like their story the way it is even if you might think it’s flawed. In the end, it’s their story. That’s been a tough one for me to get past, to be honest. I had a romance client who had the hero do something that I felt made him irredeemable. I must have suggested at least three different ways to change it, but the client wanted it the way she wanted it.

MacGregor notes that some authors assume that you’ll also write their query letter and help them get a literary agent or publisher after you’ve ghostwritten their book. You can avoid a lot of confusion and disappointment by clearly communicating what services you’ll be providing for what fee. Because ghostwriting is so flexible and the role shifts slightly from project to project, Toni Robino highlights the importance of clear contracts: 

You need to say exactly what you’re doing for the client, and what they’re agreeing to do as a partner in the process. Having all of that worked out ahead of time so that there's no gray area is super important.

Cain adds that the level of involvement that you will have as a ghostwriter should be clearly stated in the contract and that this might also impact how much or little official acknowledgement you receive (as well as the fee); John Smith with Sandra Cain reflects slightly less involvement than John Smith and Sandra Cain, for instance. So before you sign a contract with an author, make sure you have an open conversation about the level of involvement and the form of credit you will receive, and that your contract reflects this.

10. Remember that every project is unique

Having a contract template to work from is a good place to start, but each project will come with its own set of requirements and rules, according to Nicola Cassidy: 

Every project is unique. No ghost project that I've worked on has been exactly like the one before … I tailor every contract for every client, working off a general outline and updating it based on our interview discussions. Reedsy is great for looking after that side of things, but sometimes clients want something more in writing and I'm always happy to facilitate that.

Authors can be particular about the language that you use in contracts and might want their own legal clauses added to suit the territory that they’re living in, to address issues of privacy, or to specify the project completion date, Nicola explains. If they want to add an NDA, that’s also part of the ghostwriting job description.

11. Don’t underestimate your value

Lastly, the contract should reflect your fees and what services will be included in that price. MacGregor is clear on the point that you shouldn’t write for nothing:  

Don't underestimate your value. If you think you're only worth a thousand dollars, you'll attract authors willing to pay you a thousand dollars.

If you want to learn more about how to set your ghostwriting fees, check out our article on how much ghostwriters make . It answers questions like how much you should charge as a ghostwriter, how to write a quote, and whether you should agree to getting paid in royalties.

Capturing voice

A huge part of the ghostwriting craft is capturing other people’s voices. Ghostwriting is really “a combination of taking what the author tells you, while also researching further to really understand the world the author’s living in,” Cain summarizes. Here are some practical things that you can do to help the process along:

12. Let it take time

Freelance ghostwriter Doug Wagner says that it’s important to set expectations with the author about how long it might take to nail their voice: 

One of the most common problems I’ve encountered with clients is unrealistic expectations — especially with regards to voice. Clients need to understand that no writer nails someone else’s voice on the first try, and shouldn’t be expected to . That’s inevitably a product of a back-and-forth … Ensure you communicate this with clients before you begin so they’re as prepared for the process as possible.

Getting clients on-board with the process is vital, as a patient collaboration will bring about the best results. Cain, for instance, spends up to three or four hours a week interviewing some of her memoirists, listening closely to their story and the way they talk.

13. Practice deep listening

Doing research and interviewing the author you’re working with is an important part of ghostwriting. As you do, practicing deep listening will help you get an insight into how the author thinks and expresses themselves. 

Award-winning ghostwriter Jon Reiner says that a successful ghostwriter is “first a good listener, and then a good writer.” Being a good listener is a skill that you can develop over time, and includes asking the right questions, paying attention to behaviors and habits, manner of speech, and making notes about the way the author perceives and describes the world. 

14. Invite the author to “spot the difference”

It’s important that the author is also involved in this process and sometimes you may need to get a bit creative with how you draw their voice out. 

Robino breaks her process down into some actionable steps: 

Listen to the person speak, pay attention to their word choices, their intonation, how they generally express themselves. Then I like to ask the person to read something I wrote out loud and try to put their personal spin on it. Ask the author to note down things that wouldn’t normally come out of their mouth, and go back and change them until they feel right. Eventually, after a couple of chapters, you will hopefully have a better grasp of their voice. 

Beyond yourself and the author, third parties can be an additional resource.

15. Enlist family members and friends to help

Sometimes authors don’t actually know the sound of their own voice as well as they think they do. Robino notes that consulting a family member or friend can help if an author can’t tell if they recognize their own voice in your writing — as someone who knows the author well, they are sometimes better placed to confirm whether you’ve managed to capture their essence or not. 

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Of course, this step may be a bit more difficult to pull off if you’re deep ghosting, where only you and the other can know what your role is.

16. Try method acting

If you really want to push the boundaries with your ghostwriting but can’t let anyone else know who you’re writing for, you can also give method acting a try — according to Cain, play-acting as the other person whose voice you’re trying to capture (in the comfort and privacy of your own home) can help you get inside their mind without enlisting other people to help. It’s as close to walking a mile in someone else’s shoes as you can get.

17. Use fiction to practice writing different voices

Lastly, you also need to put pen to paper since being able to capture a voice in writing ultimately takes a lot of practice. Robino recommends writing fiction as a great way to hone your skills, since you’ll get to develop characters and practice writing all their different voices. She says that “fiction writing has ultimately helped strengthen my nonfiction as well.”

Building a ghostwriting career

If you want to make a career out of ghostwriting or you’re looking for ways to expand your business, here are some good practices that can help you get your name in front of more people:

18. Produce your own creative work to showcase your skills

In addition to being a great way to practice voice, continuing to produce creative work of your own outside of your ghostwriting is an excellent way to get around the conundrum of anonymity when it comes to building a portfolio.

I continue to produce my own creative work in both fiction and screenplays. I've found these to be most helpful for sample work, or proving the level you work to. This helps me get around the tricky area of writing anonymously but also showing new clients a portfolio. — Nicola Cassidy

When you can’t showcase samples of your work that you’ve written for other authors, this will allow you to show potential clients what quality they can expect from your writing.  

19. Look for ‘White Whales’

Ghostwriting is a competitive field and it can be a long and arduous process building a portfolio that will make clients come to you. Alex Cody Foster , a ghostwriter who has written several Amazon bestsellers, advises both new and veteran ghosts to look out for ‘White Whales’:  

One of the best ways to skip ahead of that lengthy process [of becoming a ghostwriter] is to find a white whale—i.e. someone who has a remarkable story that has not yet been published. You might see a great story about this person on Netflix as you browse documentaries; you might read about them in the New York Times or even in your local paper … The key is to discover someone with a big story and therefore a large platform, and pitch them on ghostwriting their book … While working on regular gigs, I always have a white whale client or two I'm working with at the same time.

Reaching out to ‘whales’ will often result in one of three things: One — they say no. Two —they say yes. Three — they say yes, but they don't want to pay you. In the case of the latter, you can try to negotiate a deal with a lower fee in exchange for having your name on the cover.

An author with a big platform will ensure that your work reaches a big audience and help build your reputation in the ghostwriting ‘biz. But be wary of taking on any project that sparkles without first knowing if it will play to your strengths.

20. Know where your strengths lie

As with any profession, it’s important to always strive to hone your skills and add more tools to your belt, but it’s also important to know where your strengths lie and where you’ll be able to deliver good results.

I am always honest and never take on a project I don't think my skills are suitable for. In this way, I turn down a lot of work, but equally, I end up working on very interesting jobs and find that I can communicate well with the client … Often I'm approached by writers who have some material written but say they need a ghostwriter as they don't have the confidence to go further. Sometimes the voice is so unique that I tell them they must - that I don't think I could capture it in the way they would like. — Nicola Cassidy

Eileen Rendahl similarly has a clear vision of the projects she’s looking for: 

I’m good at dialogue, setting, and internal motivations [and] gravitate toward projects where the client already knows the overall arc of the story, but doesn’t know how to flesh it out. It makes for a really nice collaborative project.

Knowing your own abilities is not to say that you shouldn’t venture out of your comfort zone — the best projects are ones where you can apply your skills and flex your writing muscles to their fullest extent.

21. Respond immediately when you get a request

Lastly, we’ll end on a tip that seems obvious, but definitely bears repeating — being quick on the ball can give you first dibs on the best projects. To MacGregor, “being first to respond is key.” From there on, you can ask for a sample, explain the process, and gain their attention by showing why you’d be the best ghost for the job.



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And there you have it — 21 ghostwriting tips that will hopefully help you become a better ghost. For more ghostwriting insights, check out our guide to how to find ghostwriting jobs or Barry Napier’s story on how he unexpectedly became a ghost.

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