David Jacoby writes:

“Some of the best and most rewarding writing I’ve done has been ghost, because (in my case, anyway) the LACK of a byline allows my normally rather, ahem, obnoxious ego to take a nap.” You don’t have to worry about taking the public criticism of your content. You just write.

Paul Magee, of Subvert Magazine, writes:

"As a reader, I lose respect for someone who uses a ghostwriter. There are plenty of people I admire who have had writers do the technical job of writing their books for them, but they tend to be given “co-author” or similar status. To not give credit is to pretend you did it, which shows a lack of character in my eyes."

Is a ghost writer an honorable professional, or a hack?

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    This is an incredibly interesting and fascinating question, but I'm afraid it's primarily opinion-based. I will note that Paul Magee says he loses respect for the person who uses the ghostwriter, not the ghostwriter themselves. And part of the benefit of being anonymous is that no one knows who you are to find you dishonorable. – Michael Apr 11 '17 at 19:11
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    Michael, isn’t there a difference between the anonymity of a ghostwriter and the anonymity of a "pseudonym" or "avatar?" Isn’t the author using a ghost writer operating in what Sartre calls "bad faith"—failing to take personal responsibility for writing, "passing the buck?" Or is the author using a ghostwriter permitting the ghost writer to "just write?" To what extent does the author using the ghost writer collaborate with the ghost writer? If there is collaboration, who is the "writer?" – user24417 Apr 11 '17 at 19:26
  • I'd say there's a difference in that being a ghostwriter is more anonymous. Is the author operating under bad faith? I dunno, but that's each individual's morality to work out. As far as the extent, it depends on the work, it varies according to each author/ghostwriter relationship. – Michael Apr 11 '17 at 20:15
  • Welcome to Writers! I'm sorry to say that I'm casting the final vote to place this on hold as primarily opinion-based. Please have a look at our tour and help pages for guidance about how to edit this into a question that'll work on this site. It's unfortunate that your first question here is getting closed, I hope you look at this as an opportunity for improvement and not a rejection. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Apr 12 '17 at 23:10

Most works of art bear the artist's name. Most works of craft do not. The person who paints your portrait signs their work. The person who paints your house, or your sign, does not.

Using a ghostwriter to produce a work of craft writing is no different from hiring someone to paint your house. It is your house and you get the praise for it. But if you hire someone to do a piece of art writing -- a novel or a poem -- for you, there is a degree of deception involved from both parties.

Unfortunately, though, there is something of a grey area here, in the realm of what is curiously called creative non-fiction. It is not clear if such work is presented as a work of art or craft. If an athlete writes a biography that sells based purely on interest in their career, we can reasonably call that craft, and not be surprised if a ghostwriter was used. But if a biography is presented as a work of art, as something that might be read by someone who is not already a fan of the subject, then it feels odd if the true author is not acknowledged.