All those hyped books by celebrities? Mostly ghostwritten. Though it doesn't stop there, because other people, eg political leaders, often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, magazine articles, or other written material.
While some ghostwriters are hired to edit and clean up a rough draft, others will do most of the writing based on an outline provided by the credited author. For some projects, they have to do a substantial amount of research, especially in case they were hired to write an autobiography for a well-known person or for non fiction books in general.
Ghostwriters are also hired to write fiction in the style of an existing author, often to increase the number of books by a popular author, eg Tom Clancy. Considering the fact that fans of this author are usually more after a fast paced and action packed plot, and not the style and prose of Mr Clancy, they might not be that bothered about this. The franchising of Tom Clancy books goes back more than a decade, and ghostwriting is probably as old as Homer. So obviously this ghostwriting thing is not really new, and working just fine. At least for some.
While I researched for this blog post I also remembered how Enid Blyton, one of my favorite authors from my childhood, was said to have used a ghostwriter based on the fact that she managed to write so many books in a relatively short time. If it's true or not, I cannot say, but it seems to me that ghostwriting is a phenomenon that is a lot more common than I thought it would be.
The question remains - why would anyone want to be a ghostwriter? Even if they do get acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services, what's the point? Pay check? Probably. I can only imagine what it must be like to see a bestselling book that you've written, and it's got someone else's name on it. Of course, if the book turns out to be a shelf warmer, it's not quite as bad.
Last but not least, I came across something else too ... the blog ghostwriter. Well, let it be said, I write all those blog posts you find here myself. Apart from the obvious guest posts, of course. Hiring a ghostwriter? I don't think so. But go ahead and google "blog ghostwriter" ... you'll be amazed or shocked. Maybe both.
Have you ever read a ghostwritten book? Do you know any authors who use ghostwriters? Let me know.