Friday, July 15, 2011

The Issue with Ghost Blogging by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

As with Ghost Writing the practice of Ghost Blogging is becoming an increasing phenomenon these days--especially in the corporate world.

What is it?

It's when someone hires another blogger or writer to write their blogs for them and they slap their name on it as if they wrote it themselves.

Many people feel this is deceptive and and unethical.

I believe it is expected in the corporate world where many CEO's don't even answer their own email and phone calls and haven't written their own letters for years. It's "understood" that their Secretary or Administrative Assistant is writing their letters, emails, and responses.

The issue with blogging is that it's suppose to be a modern tool for transparency and a way to personally connect with one's readers--whether those readers are clients, patients, customers, students, or fans. Busy people claim they don't have the time to blog like clockwork on a regular schedule. Yet, they feel "obligated" to blog because everyone else is doing it, like their competitors, and it truly is a great promotional tool if utilized effectively.

So what about authors? Is okay for us to Ghost Blog or are we deceiving our readers? Shouldn't we be spending our time writing those great novels that our readers can't wait to read next? Don't we have an obligation to meet the deadlines looming over us like a big fat cloud that is turning darker by every minute we don't get something written? The temptation could be great for some of us--especially if we just need to get past a deadline for a short month or two.

I believe an author should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages--and Christian writers should seriously pray about it. I have made my personal decision not to hire Ghost Bloggers on my personal blog--my main blog, but I do have guest bloggers who use their own name to blog. However, I wouldn't think twice about hiring a Ghost Blogger for my Today in Carolina History Blog, which is no longer active, since all I do is post historical events that took place on that day. I'm not really writing. I'm not giving writing tips, marketing tips, opinions or any insight into my personality or life--only stating facts.

If you do decide to hire a Guest Blogger, I would like to caution that if your readers find out, you may risk them feeling betrayed or deceived. You also risk losing them as readers on both your blog and your books. A certain amount of trust in you as a leader, as well as your knowledge and authority in authorship could be broken.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about Ghost Blogging?


Lynda Schab said...

I've been hired to ghostwrite over 100 articles online. While I personally don't have a problem with it (although it would be nice to be credited and I wish I still had the rights to some so I could use them again), when it comes to blogging, I think it depends. For a general corporate site or informational blog, I think it's ok. But, like you said, if readers are wanting to connect with a personality, I think it's deceptive. A fine line there...great post.

Sherry Gore said...

No doubt ghost writers in the corporate world are necessary. After all, they aren't professional writers. But for an quthor/writer to use one for their blog, I personally see deceit written all over it.

Terry Burns said...

One can write for another two ways, ghostwriting and work for hire. In the first place there is usually a confidentiality agreement involved and the work is put out in the other person's name with no credit given. There are a lot of celebrities that have a book in their name who did not do the writing. On work for hire the person gets credit, perhaps even a byline. I have done some of both but I was not terribly comfortable with the ghostwriting. Still, it depends on the involvement of the 'author.' If they are providing all of the material and just need organizing it and writing it in a credible manner I can live with that. If the ghostwriter is having to basically do the whole thing from scratch and the other person claim it, not so much.

Terry Burns said...

As an example, you think people would care as much for a book written by the President if they knew he didn't really write it? I'll give Bush credit, on his he actually says the material is his but a professional writer (one of his speechwriters) did the actual composition. He gives the writer credit.

Millie Samuelson said...

Oh min min (as my Swedish gramma and one of my novel characters says), this is my "learned something new today"! I just hadn't tho't about it happening. But since I don't have a problem with ghostwriting in general (I wrote lots of college letters for others when I was a prof), I probably won't have a problem with ghost bloggers -- once I get used to the idea. . . :-) To change the topic a bit, what I do have a problem with is keeping up with masses of daily blogs (and I don't, but would like to). I think blogs should be BRIEF, and every blogger agree to just a para or two (blogs can always be continued the next time. . . :-)

Katherine Hyde said...

For a writer, I think ghost blogging is completely dishonest. When I read an author's blog, I assume I'm seeing that writer's own genuine voice and style. If the blog is well written, I expect the books to be well written. If the blog is funny, I expect the books to be funny, etc. If I read an author's blog and then her books turned out to be in a radically different voice, I would most definitely feel betrayed as a reader.

Hiring ghostwriters is for people who have something to say but are not able to write it competently. I certainly hope that doesn't apply to any writer.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

These are some great discussions and the dialogue is excellent. I appreciate everyone's input. Thanks for stopping by and contributing!

Diana said...

I agree with you Katherine, you put my thoughts into words, but with greater clarity than I would have :-)

Jeanette Levellie said...

It never entered my perky little peabrain to hire a ghost writer for my blog--that's MY blog, thank you very much.

But I will gladly write copy for an informative or corporate blog, and not lose a minute of pillow time over it, especially if it pays for my next writers conference!

Karen said...

Somehow it seems to defeat the purpose of platform building if you are blogging as a means of giving a personal approach to your marketing. Perhaps a technical, historical, fact-giving blog would be fine ghost written but I think readers--especially of fiction, want to connect with the author. The web is too socially minded nowadays. I think if people realized a more personal blog was ghost written, they would feel even more deceived than finding out an "author" used a ghost writer and written words weren't hers.

Caroline said...

I think it depends on what type of material is on the blog. For a personal post with certain subjects, the blog owner should write and post it; but I wouldn't have a problem w/someone doing, say, for example, my Sunday morning devotional short liners.

I'm just glad that so far I can handle it all myself.

Good topic.

Shalini said...
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