What IS a Ghostwriter, Anyway?

By: Sheila M. Trask in Book Writing and Editing
on February 26th, 2021

You’ve seen the wording on countless book covers, right below the title: “by FAMOUS PERSON, with not-so-famous person.”

And you’ve wondered, who is that not-so-famous person? You assume it’s a ghostwriter, but what exactly did they contribute? Did they really work with the author, or did they just transcribe some words onto the page?

What is the conventional definition of ghostwriting?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the author simply handed the project over to a ghostwriter, who wrote the manuscript for them rather than with them. After all, the dictionary definition of a ghostwriter is “a person who writes one or numerous speeches, books, articles, etc., for another person who is named as or presumed to be the author.”

This traditional definition of a ghostwriter is often accurate. Busy politicians, entrepreneurs, doctors, and celebrities may indeed delegate the entire book writing process to a ghostwriter. These ghostwritten books can be informative and even entertaining, but the final product may lack a certain spark. The hardest part for the author? It may not feel like their book at all.

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Hire a ghostwriter for your book?

What’s often missing from these conventionally ghostwritten books is a deep understanding of the author’s unique personality, passions, and experiences—the very things that help them to personally connect with their readers and effectively communicate their vision of the world through their books.

At Round Table Companies, we believe that your book is special because of your unique way of seeing the world, and we wouldn’t want you to write a book that didn’t reflect that. In fact, working with RTC is a little like working with a writing coach whose goal is to help you voice that inner truth. We are true collaborators in your book writing process and know that hiring a ghostwriter isn't the best option for the writing of your book.

What does ghostwriting look like at RTC?

At RTC, we believe that ghostwriting is not your best option. Our signature book writing process is less about transcription than it is about transformation. RTC book writing is a collaborative process between you, the author, and a team of editors and coaches who listen closely to what you have to say. They’ll also listen closely for what you’re not saying, and they’ll ask you about it.

For instance, you know that idea you come back to time after time but never develop because you don’t know how it’s related to the story you’re telling? They’ll notice all the energy you’re putting into that, and they’ll help you figure out why that idea refuses to leave you alone. They’ll also help you figure out if maybe you should invite it into the conversation instead of turning it away. Maybe it has something important to say.

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RTC collaboration vs ghostwriter

When you work with RTC vs a ghostwriter, you’ll spend hours in conversation, building a relationship and unearthing gems that you’d likely never excavate on your own, and discovering insights that no ghostwriter working on their own would ever find. You won’t use everything you uncover in your book, but you’ll deepen your understanding of your purpose for writing the book, and your readers will feel that authentic spark on every page.

Your RTC team will also work closely with you to develop a compelling, comprehensive written vision that articulates your message and forms the foundation for your book. And together, you’ll create a detailed plan—sort of a literary blueprint—for bringing that message to life. Then, chapter by chapter, you’ll tell the story you were meant to tell.

Your team will be instrumental in getting that story onto the page and guiding you through edits and revisions and celebrating every milestone along the way to your completed manuscript.

In other words, they won’t write your book for you, but they will write it with you.