Ghost Writers

It may just be the day and times we live in, but as the volume heads into the 400-700 articles approved per day… I have less and less confidence in ghostwritten articles.

It’s not that I’m against the concept of ghostwriting at all, but that most authors who hire ghostwriters don’t quality control their people and they end up sending in crap that we then have to sift through to reject.

I’m thinking that we should start to label authors with the following grades:

A) Original written material
B) Ghostwritten material (this author may be fake)
C) Ghostwritten material with some original words.

How in the world can a publisher come to our site to find articles that were really written by the authors who say they wrote them?

No, we’re not really going to label ghostwritten articles as “fake” but we are going to pursue this discussion to bring out more value for our publishers who are struggling to identify who’s real vs. who’s not.

One more rant if you’ll permit me:

Last week I busted a ghostwriter who was telling a fictional tale about the author that didn’t exist. Seemed like a lie to me to create a persona or brand out of a alias. Wouldn’t be a problem if this author had only 1 alias, but he had dozens of them with dozens of lies.

I know companies do this all the time (Mavis Beacon teaches typing, for example as there is no woman named Mavis really or Peter Norton, the famous Symanetc anti virus guy who doesn’t really exist)…

BUT, the end outcome here is to raise consumer and publisher confidence in the articles they are reading on our site by identifying the bullsh*t from the quality original articles.

Your thoughts how to solve this issue?


Janice writes:


A scheme like the one you describe would be great for those of us who use our time and brain cells writing articles from scratch.

Makes me mad that every legitimate means of marketing and getting publicity seems to get hi-jacked by those looking for an easy solution to making money without offering anything of any real value to anyone.

Comment provided October 20, 2005 at 7:27 AM


Michael Russell writes:

I find this post a little confusing – are you saying hiring ghostwriters is a bad thing?

It seems to me that if I hired writers to create 100 articles for me it doesnt really make a lot of difference whether I submit them or the ghostwriters submit them – if they are original, quality content…

And why would it make a difference if I wrote them all myself or paid for them to be written?

Comment provided October 20, 2005 at 8:45 AM


Chris Knight writes:


I’m saying blindly trusting any ghostwriter is the problem.

It seems like every day we have some poor author who will respond to one of our emails about a question in regards to the originality of the content of one or more of their articles, will say:

“But, I hired this ghostwriter to do it.’

As if it was the ghostwriters fault for writing crappy or stolen content.

My blog post is a wake up call to authors who hire ghostwriters.

* Trust no one. …meaning:

* Verify every single article submission you receive from your paid ghost writer.

* Verify at least 3 complex sentences in every article received from your ghostwriter with exact match searches in the major search engines.

* Never hire very cheap ghostwriters (like less than $7 per article).

And lastly, yeah, I’m saying that I’d rather read an original article that “Michael Russell” wrote than one that Michael Russell hired someone to write for him. Just an original article reading preference. I want to know or learn from your neurons, not someone elses.

Comment provided October 20, 2005 at 9:14 AM


John writes:

What would be your suggestion for people who realize the benefit of article marketing, but have come to the realization they are not a great writer? I would argue that hiring a ghostwriter would provide better content then they could themselves.

Do you have to be a good writer to be an expert on something? Do all internet entrepreneurs who realize the value of article marketing and link building get the shaft, because they are better off hiring a writer? What about the gal who is just too busy to finish her daily web duties (on top of a day job)? Hiring a writer may be the best means of expanding her capabilities at article marketing, rather than spending her weekend nights trying to find an extra minute to write those articles.

Comment provided October 20, 2005 at 9:15 AM


Jean Tracy writes:

I write about character building. It seems to me that hiring a ghost writer and putting one’s own name on the ghostwriter’s article is a lie. Where is the character in that?

Comment provided October 20, 2005 at 9:36 AM


Dina writes:

Hello, how timely to find this after I was up until all hours GHOSTWRITING an article for a new client who wants to grow her business on the web.

I think some differentiation needs to be made here. You mention aliases and they are not quite the same as having a ghostwriter. Maybe I’m missing something?

I am always shocked to learn about people who pay low-budget “ghostwriters” very low rates to crank out unmonitored content for them. Why would you do that, it’s just a waste of money. Either you suffer through and write your own articles for free, or you make a serious investment in a professional copywriter!

People pay other people to write for them every day. Not everyone can convey themselves eloquently in words to get the reaction they want. That’s why there’s such a great need for professional, paid advertising.

There is nothing wrong with ghostwriting for someone who pays you, but that written material should be based on a close interaction with the client who conveys his ideas and then “speaks” through the ghostwriter. If the client doesn’t like the copy, it gets reworked until their satisfaction, no question about it.

If you create articles for someone else, the articles should NOT be listed under your account, no two ways about it. A ghostwriter might also suggest creating a new article membership account for their client. The articles should be submitted under the client’s name, NEVER the ghostwriter’s! Also, that account should be managed via an email address that is password-accessed by both the ghostwriter and the paying client and the account should be strictly reserved for article submissions. This way, both parties will have a measure of control over the article submissions. And if the ghostwriter is doing his job right, the client’s author status will get bumped up to Platinum Unlimited Submissions with no problem.

I think I’m going to write an article about this, I can’t believe the misinformation that abounds. Writers are thoughtful, gentle souls, and they deserve more respect and compensation for the work they do!

Dina Giolitto
Web Copywriter, Article Ghostwriter

Comment provided October 20, 2005 at 9:54 AM


Bonnie Jo Davis writes:


I’m chiming in with my .02 cents. I use a ghostwriter periodically to write an article on a designated topic following my outline. I pay generously and require all rights once the article has met my approval. The same person edits all of my own articles and gets paid generously to do it. The common concensus here is that the cheapo $7 an article ghostwriters are churning out worthless articles that anyone should be ashamed to attach their names to. If you’re going to use a ghostwriter, hire a professional, pay them a professional wage and scrutinize their work carefully before releasing it out into the wild!


Comment provided October 20, 2005 at 11:17 AM


Dina writes:

Bonnie, how weird is this? I was thinking of you as I typed the last few lines of my last post. And here you are! I guess you impressed me. :)

The attraction of the internet is a crazy thing. Thank you for adding your quality contributions to the Article Marketing Network.

Comment provided October 20, 2005 at 1:24 PM



The majority of my work is to produce ghostwritten material. Some of it is “anonymous” in that I provide generic web content without *any* source listed, while other writings include another author’s name.

I agree with Dina: not too many people know how to shape thoughts into words that are articulate as well as persuasive. Many people can write; not many people know how to write in a manner that attracts interest. This is one of the most important tasks of a ghostwriter.

Essentially, a ghostwriter creates an entire article based on what the client has already outlined. Working with the client, the ghostwriter shapes the article to reflect the client’s voice in the article. It is this “voice” that gives the article a distinct feel, one that a successful ghostwriter brings out. If the ghostwriter fails to do this or doesn’t know how to accomplish this all-too-important task, then the ghostwriter should be looking for another line of work.

I also feel a certain article coming on…

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 4:17 AM


Fiona writes:


I too am a ghostwriter, and I work for less than the aforementioned $7 per article – perhaps I am underselling myself, but I have been copywriting for less than year, and am finding better paying jobs difficult to come by. But my point is this – regardless of the small amount I am paid, I endeavour to produce high quality, unique material each time I sit down in front of my computer. Please do not tar all ‘cheap’ writers with the same brush – some of us have a strong work ethic that makes us produce good work, even if we are being paid less than we deserve.


Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 9:35 AM


Dy Witt writes:

I could not have said it better than Dino Gioletto! Have some taste! Have some class! Have some respect! The problem with that is the parasites of the world have no conscience about their own behaviors and what those behaviors cost the rest of us in the quality of our lives. It will not change until people stop blaming “society” for dumbing down and start taking responsibility for their own choices, and one at a time make “society” a better place. It’s slow but sure.

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 9:36 AM


Lewis Sandbeck writes:

What I like to do is hire columnists. You can usually find writers/ghostwriters who would just assume publish articles under their name. Especially if they have expertise in what they are writing about. Atleast that has been my experience. The costs are usually similar as well.

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 9:38 AM


Deanna Mascle writes:

This is a great topic and that certainly seems to be a thought-provoking topic!

I think after reading the comments from those who do and use ghostwriting (in the proper spirit!) then there perhaps needs to be another category although I cannot think of the proper phrasing for it. Some label that indicates material is ghostwritten but done well.

I also have a couple general comments regarding the issue.

First, as a long-time teacher of writing I think anyone can learn to be a competent writer and for much internet writing that is all you need to achieve. These articles don’t need to be long and most intelligent people who are knowledgeable about their subject can pull off 500-700 words if they just focus on their topic.

However I do recognize that time is an issue. For some people it just makes sense to pay someone else to write when they know it will take them a lot of time and energy they could better spend somewhere else. I know I don’t have enough time in the day to write all the articles I want to write and I’m a pretty fast writer!

Perhaps it would be better to label a particular writer as a staff writer for your business entity? I have written professionally for 20+ years and my ownership of the articles etc. I have written depends on my contract but usually when I am on staff then what I write in that position belongs not to me but the publication I write for. Perhaps it might make sense to simply link an article to that business entity rather than an individual person? This might help address Chris’s concern regarding ethics and honesty.

Or you could simply indicate By Deanna Mascle as written for ….

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 9:40 AM


Amanda Evans writes:

I have to say I do a lot of professional ghostwriting and all content is 100% unique written specifically as the client wishes. I do understand however that there are some ghostwriters out there who will change their arms. Only last week I subcontracted out some work to another writer and it was only after my client asked for a collection of references to use on his website that I discovered the articles were all a complete copy and paste and I’m not talking a few sentences I’m talking complete paragraphs. I have to say I was absolutely horrified and this so called writer even went so far as to ask for payment. I told them that it was so called writers like them that give genuine ghostwriters a bad name. I mean how could any professional copy and paste, its just unthinkable.

I guess I learned my lesson and won’t be subcontracting again. But as ghostwriters go I do agree with the other posts. Writing is an art and a skill and not everyone can write, you are either blessed with the gift or you’re not and for those who are not it is beneficial to have someone else write up your ideas. Of course as the saying goes “you get what you pay for” and if you’re not prepared to pay for good quality work you won’t get it.


Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 9:41 AM



Indeed you’ve touched a nerve Chris because ghostwriters are legitimate, yet here you appear to be labeling the practice of hiring ghostwriters suspect. Who do you think writes books for celebrities, yet do they point that out in the credits? Rarely. Martha Stewart is a good example. The woman who wrote her first book was never credited or even acknowledged, and frankly, I’ve often wondered how that must feel to be a “best selling author” with no credit, and in fact watching someone else create a huge career based on your work with nary a thank you.

So, it’s not ghostwriting by itself, but the practice of simply buying articles from unknown sources that may be the problem. You also mentioned an arbitrarily chosen amount of $7 for an article as a price that should be suspect, yet I’m sure there are plenty of writers throughout the world that would rather have that $7 than not. It may seem a ridiculous amount to you, but you cannot simply say this price point is suspect.

Excellent post Chris! Way big can of worms. Someone should start a site that displays the talents of professional ghostwriters, or perhaps there is one and someone will point it out.


Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 11:00 AM


Gail Nettles writes:

While I am fortunate enough to be able to write my own articles, I also realize that some people cannot. I am thinking specifically about people for whom English is a second language. It would be like me trying to write an article in German — there is no telling what I would really end up saying!

Also, there are people who just do not have the time to write articles in addition to their day jobs and webmaster duties.

Professional editors/ghostwriters are a necessary resource to those who endeavor to publish on the interenet. Agreed, a $5 per article ghostwriter can be good; unfortunately most are not.

I believe that good ghostwriters should be paid what they are worth — and not just $7 or $10 an article! Excellent writing is an art as much as a science, and it should be compensated appropriately.

That being said, it is up to the person who hired that writer to carefully review the article(s) and make sure the content isn’t just lifted from an internet site or three.

I was perusing some article sites this past weekend and I found several articles that were exactly the same, but had different author names attached to each. Hmmm.


Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 11:28 AM



Well call me naive! Do you mean that most of these articles are paid for? I guess I was too busy being a single mom, working a full time job and getting up at 4am for the past 10 years to write and then working on my web site in the evening to even think that could possibly be the case.

What are all these comments about not having enough time all about? Do they want to be a real author badly enough? Can’t they put their rears into the chair and get it done?

And why would anybody even want to accept an article from somebody who wouldn’t?

Is this the place where people come to live out the fantasy of being an author or is it for real authors? And I’ll bet the farm that the ghostwriters have something to say and write about that’s of value that they could be making money on other than doing that type of work but I guess that’s their choice.

(To quote from an earlier post) “What would be your suggestion for people who realize the benefit of article marketing, but have come to the realization they are not a great writer? I would argue that hiring a ghostwriter would provide better content then they could themselves.”

My suggestion is that they get a different job. Why should it be assumed that the benefits of article marketing are rightfully open to people who can’t write articles? It makes no sense! I am not a surgeon and the benefits of being a surgeon are not open to me. Why should it make any difference just because we’re talking about writing?

…just my two cents worth. Catherine

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 12:14 PM


Shauna Hanus writes:

I write my own articles for my gourmet food site. I am trying to build trust in the gourmet food community and hiring someone else to write for me feels to me as though I would be violating that trust.

My writting skills are slowly improving and my site is slowly building. This may not be the quickest way to finacial freedom but this is the honest and above board way to build relationships with my clients.

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 12:15 PM


Cindy writes:

Hi, I’m one of those who hires a “ghost writer”.

I’m competent at getting thoughts or an outline down on paper and I usually have pretty good grammar/spelling. However, I can’t make my words really tell a compelling story!

I’m also very good at talking to people 1 to 1 but getting that down on paper for a large, unknown group is beyond me as well.

Enter — a ghost writer. I’ve just hired an excellent writer (Nancy Hill) to take my outlines/notes and create articles and lessons for my program. It’s all my content and she creates the compelling story.

If I didn’t have Nancy, the message I’m here to deliver would die inside of me or only a few people would be able to hear it.

Now, I’m sure this isn’t the kind of writer Chris has been talking about! I love the idea of calling Nancy my “staff writer” especially because I see her as an integral part of my team (she will even be attending my “staff” conference calls!).

Thanks for this discussion and for giving me a new title for Nancy. Stay tuned for her excellent articles which we’ll be posting here shortly!

Cindy (BTW, how did you get your paragraphs to break for your posts?)

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 12:16 PM


John McCabe writes:

It seems to me the meat of the matter lies less in the source and more in the quality of submissions. I have purchased packages of articles for research purposes and found wide variations in the quality of writing. Some were articulate and intelligent, some were a little rough around the edges, and some were, to borrow Chris’s word, bulls**t. Totally unusable.

I think part of the dillemma stems from many of the lower priced articles coming from countries where $5-$7 US is actually pretty good pay. For many of these writers, English is only a second or third language. Through no fault of their own, their command of the language is not up to snuff for this endeavor.

My suggestion for those who know their stuff, but lack confidence in their writing ability is tocrank out the best material they can, then hire a good editor to polish it up.

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 12:19 PM


George W. cannata writes:

I personally don’t see anything wrong with ghost writing, if you can afford it. But it’s incumbent upon the submitter that they don’t attach their name to trash.
In my opinion trying to police such a thing is probably impossible and a waste of valuable time.
If people are stupid enough to submit trash, matters will take care of themselves and no one will read their junk.

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 12:55 PM


Suzy Sharpe writes:

As a freelance copywriter, a sometimes ghostwriter and an article writer I agree with Dina & Matthew.

Not everyone has the time to learn to be a great writer, and it does take a certain “gift.” Many people can write articles, but writing in a way as to get them read, or picked up by ‘zines requires skill.

I do not believe the name on the article matters, but the integrity of the content does. Are you saying that ghostwritten articles can be cut & paste, but someone who is not a professional writer who writes an article himself to promote his business will never use “shortcuts?”

If I am doing work-for-hire then the person who hired me owns that work, and their name is on the article. Of course as a copywriter, I am used to my name not appearing at all. This is the same in business for any commercial art work, graphic design, etc.

In every career there are people with integrity who will do good work. In that same career, will be found lazy, or indifferent people interested in getting a paycheck or who may even cheat if the opportunity presents itself.

One does not label all mechanics as dishonest because of an unfortunate experience with a dishonest one.

Do not label all ghostwriters or their material as without integrity. We provide a valuable service to our clients.

Now, just a note to Fiona.

Fiona darling, please stop selling yourself short, both literally and internally. Unless you can write an article in less than an hour — no for 7 bucks you should be spending less than 10 minutes, tops, inclucing revisions–your time would be better spent promoting yourself.

But before you can do that, you have to believe in yourself. Taking these slave wages keeps you in that slave wage mind frame and you will never break free.

Work on your skill, do some spec work if necessary to get noticed, work on your self-esteem and demand a decent wage. If you don’t respect your own time and your own talent, no one else will.

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 1:00 PM


Edward Weiss writes:

I don’t consider myself a “writer” yet I’ve managed to submit, as of this post, 80 articles on New Age piano playing to this site. How? I write a weekly newsletter.

The articles aren’t professionally written BUT they’re written by a professional – me. That makes all the difference!

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 6:40 PM


Sam Serio writes:

The great jazz composer, band leader, arranger and pianist Duke Ellington is credited as saying
” there are only two types of music good and bad.” By way of analogy, allow me to submit that there are only two types of articles, good and bad. A general reader or a publisher is looking for quality information or substantive content for use in their newsletter or website.
These folks represent the marketplace for those that use articles to promote their business with articles. These are generally smart,savvy, people who can make a judgment as to what is quality and what is crap.
The marketplace will determine which is which and the crap will be rewarded with the ultimate insult…to be ignored! I firmly believe that our market cares little about this ghostwriting issue, but they care deeply about quality. They look to us to provide content that makes them look good in the eyes of their readers and adds value to their publications. We have a responsibility to provide product of very high quality in order to maintain credibility for the future.
If one uses a ghostwriter, the process must be carefully managed and supervised. The person hiring should be involved and proactive. Outlines, suggested titles, and editing should be the responsiblity of the one who’s name is going to be attached to the article. In short, you need to care about the ultimate product. It is a matter of self respect and professionalism. The submission of bad product is a problem for all of us. Our collective reputation is at stake. After all, if there are only two types of articles, good or bad, which would you want to represent you or your business.
This was an excellent and very thought provoking topic. I applaud you for this one!

Comment provided October 21, 2005 at 9:38 PM


Dina Giolitto writes:

RE: FIONA. If this is the Fiona who I think it is, we once created an e-book together. Fiona kicked off the project with 101 original ideas of her own. She was a joy to work with. The book was simply magical and should not have been given away for free. Fiona, even if you’re a junior writer, there is much to be said for someone who is prompt, helpful and freely gives of her time to pitch in toward making something better. Suzy Sharpe is right, next time, get paid what you’re worth.


Comment provided October 22, 2005 at 11:28 AM


Catherine Franz writes:


I need to feedback something that was done on a teleclass. It was recommended that no one pay more than $30 (there abouts) for a ghost written article.

Even the poorest of ghost writers get paid $50 a hour.

Cheap gets cheap. I would never write something for that price. If I did, it would come out cheap too. I wouldn’t research it. I wouldn’t edit it thoroughly. Can’t spend the quality time it takes to produce a quality article at $30.

You can’t research a topic you know nothing about, write it, and then edit it 3-5 times, in 37 minutes. At least not quality.

I’ve studied with the best of writing teachers, even the ones that can get you to write a book in 14 days and even using their methods you can’t do one for this type of money.

When I heard this on the teleclass and read it in your material, I was falling down with laughter. I knew this would happen. And guess what, it did. I’m not a contraversial person, but don’t forget you reap what you sow. Recommend cheap, you get lots of cheap — its the Law of Attraction.

I know you said more than this about ghost writing but the figure given to write articles was terrible advice. Please take it back.

Chris, I love you guy, but, this one was a B I G
mess up.

Comment provided October 23, 2005 at 11:17 AM


Luigi Frascati writes:

Hi Chris,

here is the solution … Anytime we submit articles we must check the box at the end of the page to signify our agreement that “By submitting your article to us, you agree to the terms specified in the Authors Agreement and that the article you are submitting is an original works that you personally wrote or have an exclusive copyright and license to the content”.

Just remove the phrase ” …or have an exclusive copyright and license to the content” at the end of the paragraph and you’re on your way.

Personally I have nothing against ghostwriting – though I have never employed one myself – but I’m a strong believer in clarity and would prefer to see and read articles genuinely authored. Although not being a good writer does not mean that one is not an expert in a certain field, a ‘bad writer’ should not be here. It ultimately flows to the quality of the material Ezine offers to publishers, which benefits not only Ezine but also its authors … which, I believe, is your point.

Luigi Frascati

Comment provided October 23, 2005 at 11:56 AM


Sharon writes:

I found this whole thread very intriguing. I have too much ego to be a ghostwriter.

I have joined a few membership sites which are all the rage right now. I found that most of their books and articles are produced by people with a cut and paste routine. When English is a second or third language the results can be very confusing.

Simple things like correct spelling and punctuation are missing. Sometimes the “facts” are just wrong. Sadly I have seen some of these “expert” articles published as is in the mad scramble for content to drive traffic to increase sales. I wonder if the web owner even bothers to read any of the material.

I believe the driving force is either quality or quick buck. If I put my name on it I want quality.

I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry when I saw a private label article that was up for grabs that had some paragraphs that were taken from something I had written. A true copy and paste.

I have no problem with others using my articles with my name and tag. I have no problem using other writer’s articles using their name and tag. My position is that I am providing information from many sources.

I like the idea of a ghostwriters site. They could sign their own name and get some recognition and raise their prices. The world will always have a need for ghostwriters to make someone look good.

Comment provided October 24, 2005 at 9:22 AM


Dina Giolitto writes:

This thread has prompted me to start a Web Copywriting Forum.

I’m not a rule maker, but I felt like rallying the copywriting troops. Producing web content such as articles, blog posts etc. is completely different from print copywriting as we know it.

There are many copywriting forums, but this one is mine. If you want to visit a brand new discussion board, click my name (Dina Giolitto) in blue type.

Thank you and I hope I am not stepping on any feet here.


Comment provided October 24, 2005 at 4:17 PM


Sydney Tremayne writes:

Hi Chris:

I have been a ghostwriter. It saved me from starving. But $7 for an article is a joke. However, enough professionals have told you that already.

The real problem you are facing, it seems to me, is one of credibility of articles on, not whether an article is ghostwritten or not. Loss of credibility on this site affects us all.

It seems to me that the solution is fairly simple: you ask certain questions on the submission form. For example: 1- Are you personally sure that all facts stated in this article are correct? 2- If necessary, can you give proof? 3- Do you have certain knowledge that this article does not infringe any copyright? (You might tell people who use ghostwriters how they can check.)

I’m sure you can think of a couple of other questions that would be appropriate.

There will be bad apples from time to time; that’s unfortunate, but it’s life. In no uncertain terms, let people understand that violators will be banned from the website and have all their articles removed. Can you check IP addresses for submissions? This would prevent at least some of the bad apples from returning under aliases.

Would this solve your key problem? It’s not about ghostwriters at all.

Best wishes,


Comment provided November 13, 2005 at 8:39 PM


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