I currently freelance as a ghostwriter. Are there any other ghostwriters who have had any success?

  • @wetcircuit it's a general question, but you can answer from an ethical standpoint if you'd like. It's not really a job question as it's not my main source of income, just something I do on the side to build my skills- a hobby more or less.
    – Dawn Kelli
    Jun 11, 2019 at 21:25
  • I will VTC. I have written (for pay) several things that did not credit me, or credited someone else: advertisements, sales letters in somebody else's name, press releases with quotes I invented but crediting a CEO or Sales Manager (which they sign off on). It's called copywriting and in business, most people know that's how its done. I would never ghost for fiction or any creative work that was itself the product to be sold. (1) I would be jealous if it was a hit or made $millions and someone else got most of it. (2) I think it is unethical to pretend you invented something when you did not.
    – Amadeus
    Jun 11, 2019 at 22:03
  • @Amadeus Thanks for your feedback. I'm learning towards your #1 and #2 answers.
    – Dawn Kelli
    Jun 11, 2019 at 22:07
  • Dawn, my vote will be the 5th and will close your question, which will be a shame, as there's an interesting issue lurking within it. I urge you to edit it (title and body) so that it doesn't seek opinion but instead asks about practice? Just as an example, "Are there fiction ghostwriters who have gone on to become successful writers in their own right?" I would cheerfully vote to reopen it! :-) Jun 11, 2019 at 23:15
  • @Chappo Done! :-D
    – Dawn Kelli
    Jun 11, 2019 at 23:19

2 Answers 2


I know K.A. Applegate was a Ghostwriter for "The Babysitters' Club" Series before she went on to write her own massively popular series Animorphs (which was the number one book series among Elementary and Middle School readers until unseated by Harry Potter). Her husband was a silent author (he helped write books but was never credited) and had his own successful series outside of the Animorphs series.


Well, I know Dean Wesley Smith is a successful author, with more than 20 million books in print, and he's done a fair amount of ghostwriting in his career. (He doesn't recommend it, IIRC.) I think his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch has done the same, and she's an award-winning author and editor. Both of them have LONG careers as writers.

Both of them are strong advocates of teaching people how to build successful writing careers, and both are what I would consider successful authors. They make a full-time career, and very comfortable living, with their writing.

One of the trickiest things about being a ghostwriter is not letting your identity get in the way. No one needs to know you've ghostwritten for someone else, but that also doesn't preclude you from having your own career as a writer in your own name/pen name. If others have done it, they may not say so, to keep their clients happy (and to prevent violating any NDAs they've signed), and so they can keep ghostwriting.

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