Ghostwriting: what happens behind the cover?

Invisible ghostwriters slink behind-the-scenes, often hiding behind the name of the published author, but their work should be heralded.

What exactly is ghostwriting? What are the challenges and nuances of writing on behalf of someone else? ArtsHub speaks to two ghostwriters to demystify the craft of this specialised form of writing – a kind of surrogate authorship – and to clarify some of its more opaque elements.

Sure, we all know that old adage about never judging a book by its cover… well, sometimes you also shouldn’t judge a book by the name of the writer affixed to the front.

Carrie Hutchinson is a writer and editor who’s worked across many different publications, but has been involved in ghostwriting 15 books, ranging from celebrity memoirs to home design. Most of her projects were with people in the public eye known for skills outside writing. 

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Thuy On is Reviews Editor of ArtsHub and an arts journalist, critic and poet who’s written for a range of publications including The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, Sydney Review of Books, The Australian, The Age/SMH and Australian Book Review. She was the books editor of The Big issue for 8 years. Her first book, a collection of poetry called Turbulence, came out in 2020 and was published by University of Western Australia Press (UWAP). Her next collection, Decadence, was published in July 2022, also by UWAP. Twitter: @thuy_on