A ghostwriter is a professional writer who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person. Celebrities, executives, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, magazine articles, or other written material. In music, ghostwriters are used in film score composition, as well as for writing songs and lyrics for popular music genres.
Ghostwriters may have varying degrees of involvement in the production of a finished work. While some ghostwriters are hired to edit and clean up a rough draft, others are hired to do most of the writing based on an outline provided by the credited author.
For some projects, ghostwriters will do a substantial amount of research, as in the case of a ghostwriter who is hired to write an autobiography for a well-known person. Ghostwriters are also hired to write fiction in the style of an existing author, often as a way of increasing the number of books that can be published by a popular author (e.g., Tom Clancy, James Patterson). Ghostwriters will often spend from several months to a full year researching, writing, and editing nonfiction works for a client, and they are paid either per page, with a flat fee, or a percentage of the royalties of the sales, or some combination thereof. The ghostwriter is sometimes acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services.