Ghostwriter or copywriter? Now that’s a question.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for a ghostwriter, or perhaps you’ve stumbled here because it’s the word ghostwriter that is interesting to you. More mysterious? You may be a freelance writer or someone researching ways to tell their life story. I shall attempt to write for both —

Which is which? The main distinction is that ghostwriters are completely invisible. They are the enigmatic wordsmiths of the trade – the ones who write books that you read—by famous celebs, fat cat politicians and king pins of the criminal underworld. Word on the street—some of the big authors now have their books ghostwritten. I didn’t believe it at first, but with an audience demanding two books a year from one person, decade in—decade out, and a publishing contract demanding it too, I can get my head around it. A lot of people do it. Why not?

If you want a book written and you are looking to hire a writer, do you want a ghostwriter for hire, or the more simple freelance writer… the copywriter? Answer: you want a ghostwriter who works with a copy-editor.

Most copywriters would love to one day work on an autobiographical project as a ghostwriter. Most ghostwriters that I know have at one time or another worked as copywriters—or written copy. If a copywriter is someone who is well skilled at working on different types of copy and a ghostwriter is someone who can write different kinds of books, is a ghostwriter then not someone who has simply upped their game? Reached for the bigger project? We are all freelance writers and a writer at any level, especially the published author will require a proofreader and copy-editor to ensure that their writing is error free. Proofreading and copy-editing can all sit under the copywriter job title—in a way—but when it comes to writing books, the author at work should be working with his or her—editor.  I even have a copy-editor proofread these blogs – somewhat late after they’ve been published I’ll add, and so for a period of time may even get published with errors inn.

If you are looking to have your story professionally written by a ghostwriter in the UK, make sure that your writer for hire includes in your investment a copy-edit and a proofread of the manuscript by a third party. This way you as the client are receiving a print ready, error free typescript that is good to go. Granted, some errors will still have the potential to slip through, and even in the publishing world – it happens, but to assure against a cowboy job, make sure you are receiving the entire package.

I can summarise the copy-editors I know into two camps – the creative and the technical. Most copywriters gravitating into ghostwriting have progressed out of the ‘creative’ camp, so if you are a freelance writer reading this, and you are that creative copywriter working on your first book as a ghostwriter, make sure you work with a technical copy-editor and then a third person—a proofreader. This way, you are working as close to how the publishing vehicle would service their clients—why not do the same? Nick Jones, founder of Freelancers in the UK states:

Authors of all levels of experience require a proofreader and copy-editor to ensure that their writing is free from errors. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are at writing or how meticulous you are at checking your own work – you will still miss things. It’s human nature. When you write a story, you focus so heavily on the narrative and the development of your characters that you overlook the finer details. For the months or even years that you’re working on the book, you’ll get so close to your fictional world that you’ll struggle to stand back and observe the work objectively, as a whole, and be able to tell which bits work and which bits need work. It’s also surprisingly hard to spot grammatical errors in your own writing. This is true even when writing a short document like a CV, so think how difficult it must be to proofread your own 200,000-word novel! Therefore proofreading and editing is, and always will be, a key part of the professional writing process.

If you are looking for a ghostwriter to write your book, you want someone who works with a copy-editor, someone who understands grammar and the technical language of English down to a T. And then a proofreader to finish off. And—if you consider yourself a technical copy-editor, and you’re working on a book – but can struggle creatively to spread your wings, consider bringing on a copywriter who can help with a creative edit – or even think about bringing on a ghostwriter to slip in those creative notes that will give your book a personality.

Freelance writers come in all shapes, adding specialist touches in the writing process. If you are looking to employ a person to ghostwrite your life story, start with the basic search engines, use the business index sites such as and if you can contact a published author, they may be looking for work—and keen to spin a tale a different way, as that mysterious and secretive ghost.

To sum up: for a book, employ an author, co-writer or ghostwriter (an invisible author) who works in a team of three. Then it’s done. Written—edited—proofed.


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