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Claiming Credit For Ghostwriting

Freelance Writing Q&AHi Anne,

I hope this made it through your spam filter!

First, I want to thank you for helping the writing community – your site is extremely valuable!

Next, I have a question about the “proper” way to phrase ghost writing – actually not on my resume but on my personal home page.

My writing samples go back to the 90’s, but I’m currently in the process of scanning all those print versions (I don’t have any of them available electronically). At my most recent position, I was a ghost writer for the company president and wrote numerous articles for trade publications (marine and RV). Now that I’m freelancing, this is particularly disturbing, since lack of a byline is not helpful to me!

Here’s how I’m currently phrasing my tenure as a ghost writer:

I was (Name of Company)’s ghost writer for articles that were published in marine industry trade publications under the byline of the company president and vice president of lending.

Can you offer any advice for this situation? Thanks Anne!



Hi TL,

Yes, you made it through the filter – adding only QA to the subject line helps.

For the copy editors out there, according to Dictionary.com ghostwriter can also be spelled ghost writer so I’ve left TL’s spelling in his question.

You’re right, this does get tricky. My personal goal is to never ever embarrass the client by pointing out they hired a ghostwriter unless they have told me, preferably in writing, that I can name them. Even so, I downplay it mostly.

If I thought the company or the “author” would be willing to give me permission, I’d ask. But I might not. It would depend on the relationship and what I knew about the person’s attitude toward the fact that he hired someone to write for him.

With that in mind I’d probably leave out any reference to the principles and instead simply say something like” numerous articles about the maritime industry, including finance for (Name of Company) that were published in various trade magazines. Samples on request.”

My thinking is that showing them to a few individual possible clients is better than posting them on your site.

If these are your only samples you’ll have to make a judgement call… you don’t need more than two or three articles to show… just enough to demonstrate you can write. As you get more gigs, those, of course, will replace the older ones.

Readers, what other ways could this be handled?



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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • I just don’t get the whole ghostwriting thing, I guess. I need money, but I want credit! 🙁
    .-= Elizabeth West´s last blog ..Growth =-.

  • This could not have come at a better time. I may be ghostwriting a book for someone and had the same question. As long as I get paid, get paid on time, and the person is easy to work with on the project, it will not bother me if I don’t receive credit for the book. After all, that’s why it’s called “ghostwriting.”
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Writers Enter Writer’s Digest 79th Writing Competition =-.

    • Anne

      Rebecca, that’s how I look at it. And good luck with the potential project.

  • Hi Anne:

    I was very interested in your response to this as I very much value your opinion. I would say a good 75 percent of my work is ghostwritten articles. I recently created a new business website and thought about how to approach this same subject in my Portfolio section. My decision is very similar to yours – phew! 🙂

    Fortunately, I have enough “other” work to have SOMETHING for my portfolio, but I put: Here are a few samples of my work. I have an extensive portfolio of ghostwritten articles and newsletters that I do not post. I will be happy to submit samples upon request.

    I agree with you and I never post my ghostwritten material that has another person’s byline,
    .-= Cathy Miller´s last blog ..Can We Talk? =-.

    • Anne

      Yes, I’ve done it almost exactly that way.

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