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Ghostwriters, Co-writers and Collaborators, Oh My!

One of the questions we get a lot has to do with the difference between “ghostwriting,” “co-writing,” and “collaborating.” This post is meant to help differentiate.

But first, the similarities. All three titles refer to getting writing help. The difference is what type of help you’re getting, and how that help is credited (or not).

A Ghostwriter

A ghostwriter is someone who writes a book on behalf of an author, but does not get credit for the writing. Oftentimes an agreement is made that the writer will never reveal that s/he helped write the book–for marketing purposes (or in deference to the ego, we all have one) the author would rather not reveal that s/he required help writing the book.

A Co-Writer

A co-writer tends to receive some level of credit for helping write the book. We’ve all seen celebrity autobiographies sporting bylines like this one: “Marilyn Monroe with Jane Doe.” Jane Doe, ladies and gentlemen, is a co-writer. She likely did the same thing as the ghostwriter mentioned above, she just had the smarts/desire/skill to negotiate a byline mention.


Finally, we have collaborators. A collaborator is essentially writing the book in overt partnership with an author. S/he likely brought more to the table than mere writing skills. For example, I once published a diet book by a famous cookbook writer. Since she really had no background in food science, we signed on a nutritionist as a collaborator to offer expertise and cred to the project. The two became “collaborators,” and the byline on the cover of the book was “Famous Author and Not-so-famous Nutritionist.”

Looking for a ghostwriter or a co-writer? We’ve got ’em on our team. Need a specialized collaborator to offer that je ne sais quoi to your book? We’re pretty darn good at matchmaking. Give a holler. We’re always here.