A ghost writer is a writer who is hired to write a book on behalf of someone else. They are normally paid in advance for their work and most of the time their work is uncredited. This is why they are called a ghost.
Every ghost writer – author relationship is different. Some authors give the ghost writer a detailed outline of the content of the book and the ghost writer works to this plan. Sometimes authors let the ghost writer have more creative input into the writing style and content.
Some authors share the credit for the book with the ghost writer and both names will appear on the book. This will form part of the contract that both parties enter into at the start of the process.
Copyright to the work will normally be assigned to the author, not the ghost writer, although this must be in the contract before work commences to avoid any dispute later. In law, copyright belongs to whoever wrote the work, unless it is specifically assigned elsewhere. Paying someone to do something isn’t always a guarantee of copyright ownership.
Ghost writers are popular with authors who have interesting ideas or stories to tell but don’t have the time to write a full book. This often includes celebrities who want to share their life story, and leading business experts who want to share their business insights.