I’m a huge fan of your About Freelance Writing site and I read your RSS feed dailyThanks for all your useful insights! I have a question that I was hoping you might answer, and yes, I did check your archives before emailing.
When ghostwriting articles, what are you thoughts on listing link to a ghostwritten article on your freelance writing website for other potential clients to see as an example of your work? Because it’s ghostwritten, I sort of assume that this isn’t an okay practice, but I wanted to hear what a pro has to say. Thanks very much for your time!
First, thanks for the complements. I’m leaving them here so others can see them – a not-subtle way of tooting my own horn.
When you’re ghostwriting you are, in theory, totally invisible. Jenn Mattern of Allfreelancewriting.com made this statement in comments on How Important Are Copyrights Anyway? Linking doesn’t equal publication, but does equal a claim of authorship. She was talking about just this issue – can you claim authorship of a ghostwritten article. She’s right, at least technically.
So how can you do this legitimately? There are several options:
- Contact the person you ghosted for and ask if you can use the article as a sample to show other prospective employers. Most people will agree I’ve found. Now you’ve got permission, and it might be nice to say so.
- Make a statement saying something like ghosted 10 500 word articles for the XYZ corporation. You don’t need permission to make a statement like that because you’re not claiming authorship of a specific article. This won’t work if you’ve ghosted one or two articles for a famous person because you’d be naming them and claiming authorship when it really belongs to them since you’re the ghost.
- If you’ve ghosted for a famous person, just say so on your website, but without naming anyone. Something like regularly ghost 1500 word articles for a variety of celebrities and politicians will work. Those seeking ghostwriters will appreciate the discretion.
- If you’ve written a bunch of articles for the content mills and been paid a pittance, it seems to me that you could link to one or two as samples even if they own the copyright. It’s a risk, but it’s one I’ve taken. In other words, consider the context. Know too, that it’s been reported here that some editors who will refuse to hire anyone who claims content mills in their list of credits. Most editors are more concerned with the quality of the writing.
I hope this helps more than confuses – it’s as totally obvious as you might think on first glance.
What have I left out or missed?
Image from http://www.sxc.hu