Reasons Not to Ghostwrite

Things to consider before signing that NDA on Upwork

Photo by Tandem X Visuals on Unsplash

I ghostwrote a book once.

It was some of my best work and it glitters in five-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m really proud of it because I used narrative techniques I’d never really tried before. I fell in love with the characters and story.

But I’m never going to ghostwrite a book again.

Ghostwriting is a great way to earn income as a writer. There’s no doubt. But you should consider a few things before accepting a contract.

If you’re the type to emotionally connect with your writing, don’t ghostwrite.

My heart and soul go into my stories, and I bleed onto the word processor.

Ghostwriting is an emotional tax you get little return on, and you need to consider that before doing it. Consider your time and effort. You have a limited number of hours in a day. And you have limited energy. If you put emotional energy into your writing, ghostwriting can be particularly draining.

There’s nothing wrong with ghostwriting. In the e-publishing industry, it’s becoming a necessity for many writers who want to get their ideas out there, but can’t release books at the pace needed to keep up with demand. It’s unfortunate, but out of all issues born by late-stage capitalism, it isn’t exactly a pressing issue. We’re all trying to get by.

But just as creating content is important, so is keeping your heart happy with what you write. There’s nothing wrong with being passionately connected to your work either. But it does determine what you’re comfortable with in the publishing industry. Making it under your own name is challenging, but if you need the energy to work on your own writing, don’t ghostwrite.

In short, if ghostwriting drains you, it isn’t for you. Self-care is important.

You can’t use the finished product for anything.

I started freelancing by ghostwriting. I didn’t have much of a portfolio yet, but a publisher took a chance on me. I delivered. Annnnd that was it. I can’t talk about it again.

But that is so much writing I worked on that I can’t use in my portfolio!

If you’re a writer with tons of your own writing out there, go for it, but don’t make my mistake. When you’re starting out, you need your name on things. I’m lucky I got a contract in the first place.

Get a killer portfolio out there, and then ghostwrite if you want to. Don’t ghostwrite when you need to be building your portfolio.

You can’t interact with readers

For some writers, this is what they love about ghostwriting. The trolls are someone else’s problem.

This is the most painful part of ghostwriting for me.

I’m interactive as a writer and editor. I love reader banter and theories. I love talking about my writing. Interacting with readers is a crucial part of being a writer in my eyes.

If reader interaction is important to you, ghostwriting probably isn’t for you. If you give in to the urge to check how your book is doing on Goodreads and see a discussion, you can’t really dive in and fully interact.

Of course, the easy solution is to not check how your ghostwritten book is doing on Goodreads, but come on, don’t tell me you won’t get curious.


I don’t regret ghostwriting. I think it did make me a better writer and more equipped to write commercially. I’m glad I did it, but I wish I considered what was important to me as a writer more before I signed the NDA.

But I don’t think I would have realized what type of writer I was if I never ghostwrote. Ghostwriting helped me determine where I needed to direct my energy and time, and in that, it wasn’t time wasted. So if you’re not sure, I say go for it.

Speculative Fiction writer and Medium essayist | |

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