Ghostwriting: Is it Really Possible to Capture Someone’s Voice?

Celebrities, company executives, and other busy people in Bangkok will always need to publish. But their main talents aren’t related to writing, and they don’t have the time or energy to put together a document of high quality.

So they hire a ghostwriter, like me. Being a copywriter in Bangkok means that I am kept very busy, and a large part of that work is pretending to be other people.

A ghostwriter will do the writing for them, but all the credit will go to the person who hired them. Most books ‘written’ by actors, sports stars, politicians and company executives were actually put together by other people – ghostwriters. The challenge of being a ghostwriter is to capture the ‘voice’ of the person you’re writing for, so it sounds like them instead of you.

But it isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s difficult enough to write a good article or story, even when you’re using your own voice. How can you write well as another person? Also, is it OK to do this? And how can you get business, if you’re supposed to be a secret?

Let’s take those questions one at a time.

The best way to capture someone’s voice is to actually capture it. (With a microphone.) That way, you’ll be able to study the kind of language they use, the way they tell stories, their sense of humor, and their way of presenting ideas.

You’ll need some imagination: What is it like to *be* that person? To have their experiences and their responsibilities? To think the way they think? What does the world look like through their eyes? Whether they’re a star athlete or a CEO, the important thing is to understand their reality. (In that sense, it’s the same as being a writer of fiction: You have to know your characters, and speak in their voice.)

When writing, it’s best if you actually use their words as much as you can. But sometimes you’ll need to organize the writing your own way, and add explanations and transitions so that a reader can follow the ideas well. These edits are necessary, but try to do them as little as possible.

It’s also best if you work directly with the person you’re ghostwriting for, but if that’s not possible, then at least make time beforehand to ask them questions. A lot of questions, with as much detail as possible, about everything you plan to write about. If you have to guess at details, chances are you’re going to guess wrong, and that isn’t going to look good for anybody.

Finally, review the work with the person you’re ghostwriting for. And remember: Their name will be on it, not yours. If they ask you to make a change, make it. Every time.

So how should we understand this kind of work? The truth is, it’s very common. A lot of what we read (and hear in public speeches) is ghostwritten by other people. As long as the ideas originally came from the person whose name is on the document, readers usually don’t mind if they find out someone else wrote it. Most people prefer to see good writing that represents the views of the credited author, and it’s less important to them whether they had help from someone else.

And, about finding new clients … well, ghostwriters are supposed to be invisible, so your existing clients aren’t likely to write about you in public forums. So, a good start would be to show people how good you are at writing in different voices.

From there, just produce great content. Any high-quality book will have an audience ready for a sequel. An entertaining blog post will have people waiting for the follow-up. Any business works best when it earns repeat customers, but for ghostwriting, it’s essential.

Our team of writers does serious research for every assignment, and can write in any style. In addition to blogging, Lexicon is a full-service digital marketing agency in Bangkok, offering content writing, social media marketing and graphic design services.