No, not like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Ghostwriters are simply professional writers who create content that’s attributed to someone else. In the business world, blog posts, speeches, ebooks, white papers, and social media posts, and full-length books are often published by thought leaders, but behind the curtain, created by ghostwriters. There’s nothing paranormal about it.
In today’s world of ephemeral, me-too marketing, it’s unusual to find a unique voice that rises above the chorus. Unfortunately, much of what passes for content marketing strategy these days is really about searching BuzzFeed or Google Trends for what’s popular and creating more of the same.
Make a dent in the universe
Ghostwriters can help busy executives and business leaders expand their audiences from colleagues and co-workers to industry-wide or global audiences. Ghostwriters help their clients collect their thoughts, refine their ideas and share them with the appropriate audience to build visibility and credibility.
I’ve worked with some extremely successful senior executives who were more motivated to share what they have learned over the course of their careers than in making quarterly profits. Many authors seem to follow this path of success to significance. That’s the idea popularized by author Lloyd Reeb that says success is thrilling, but significance is lasting. After you spend the first half of your career achieving success, you want your second half to count for something more as you share what you’ve learned with the world.
Become your brand
The days of climbing the company ladder at the same organization until you retire are long gone. U.S. Department of Labor Statistics research shows that individuals held more than 12 jobs from ages 18 to 52, and that number is bound to increase as we enter the gig economy and retirements ages are pushed further out. Whereas big-brand business executives used to lean on their organizational titles for credibility and recognition, an increasing number are now controlling their destinies by publishing their own intellectual property.
A good way to do that is to publish under your own name. In most cases, publishing through your organization’s channels means the organization owns your thought leadership. Your own blog, podcast, research paper or book can help you throughout your career and make it easier to move from one opportunity to another — without leaving your thought leadership behind when you move on.
“Larry King doesn’t say, My next guest just posted a cat video.” — Tucker Max, 4x NYT Bestselling Author and co-founder of Scribe
Book authorship can be a golden ticket
Long-form content still rules in many domains. After working on a few book projects as a researcher, writer or editor, I can say that I’ve seen that media gatekeepers often lift the velvet rope for book authors while other bloggers and speakers stand out in the cold. You may have noticed that when people become published authors, that fact quickly becomes part of their one-line bio and LinkedIn profile.
A business book, ghostwritten or not, is unlikely to make the author rich or famous. An insightful book can help to make you more visible and help you get media coverage. For example, I listen to lots of podcasts. You might notice that many podcast guests frequently are pimping their newly released books. It’s the same with speakers at industry events, and television or radio appearances. In promoting a recent project, a new book on enterprise innovation, I pitched a more than one gatekeeper who said, “call me back when the book is in hand.” An insightful book can open many doors, and it’s a valuable credibility indicator that often provides access to media opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.
Does anyone read books these days?
In the digital age, it’s easy to imagine that good old paper books are relics of the past, but that’s not the case, according to a Pew Research Center survey. About 72 percent of the public read a book in the past 12 months, which 65 percent reading print books, 25 percent reading ebooks, and 20 percent listening audiobooks. You might imagine that older readers are the ones hanging on to their print copies, but young adults are most likely to have read a print book, or any book, in the past year.
Percent of people who have read a book in the past year
- Aged 18 to 29: 81% (74%)
- Aged 30 to 49: 72% (65%)
- Aged 50 to 64: 67% (59%)
- Aged 65-plus: 68% (63%)
Source: Pew Research Center
Don’t be afraid of no ghost
In the end, one of the best reasons for publishing under your own byline — ghostwriter or not, is that people do business with people. It’s more important to publish under your own name than ever before, whether you write it yourself, collaborate with a writing partner or hire a ghostwriter.
In an era dominated by electronic communications, it’s easy to forget that there’s a human on the other end of your PC, tablet or phone. That’s why it’s a good idea to byline blog posts, emails, and social media posts from a person, rather than a corporation. The modern marketing tech stack enables us to move ever-closer to the ideal of one-to-one personalization — a unique experience that’s optimized for each customer using data aggregation and analysis, and machine learning. Or, you could actually send someone a copy of your book with a handwritten note. That might work, too.