Ghostwriting: Much More Than Meets the Eye

17 Nov 2020


When you think about the term “ghostwriter,” what comes to mind? Someone behind-the-scenes who writes books, speeches, and even social media posts for others without getting credit?

If so, you are correct; however, ghostwriters are often used to help with some unusual projects. 

From cookbooks and fortune cookie messages to poetry and horoscopes, there are many surprising projects where the talents of a ghostwriter are utilized.


Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Cookbooks are massive revenue generators for celebrity chefs, including the likes of Rachel Ray, Jamie Oliver, and Mario Batali. However, between running restaurants, coming up with new dishes, and making publicity appearances, they don’t have much free time to pen books.

Instead, many chefs enlist the help of a ghostwriter to do the heavy lifting. And in the process, ghostwriters become trusted collaborators, testing recipes and ensuring deadlines are met and publishers are updated frequently.

Aside from the actual writing, one of the most critical tasks for a cookbook ghostwriter is making sure recipes are comprehensive and easy for a home cook to follow. Chefs have years of experience, special equipment, and sous chefs at their fingertips, whereas the home cook has the recipe and the ingredients, and that’s about it.

In other words, celebrity chefs may be masters at their trade, but not so much at translating their recipes for a novice cook.

Ghostwriters are invaluable in this scenario, not only being the writer but also the project manager and recipe tester.

Fortune Cookies

Ever finish with your Chinese takeout and wonder who has time to write all the creative messages on fortune cookies? You guessed it: ghostwriters!

According to the website Life in the USA, there are approximately 41,000 Chinese restaurants across the country, many of which serve guests fortune cookies at the end of each meal. Ghostwriters are often hired to write these little notes of inspiration tucked inside each cookie’s shell.

The sheer number of fortunes that need to be produced is mind-boggling, since cookie manufacturers don’t want people to receive repeat fortunes.

And while it might seem odd to hire a ghostwriter to write fortunes, these messages need to be well written, appeal to a broad audience, witty, but at the same time not offensive. It takes a skillful writer to produce fortune cookie messages.

Greeting Cards

Photo by from Pexels

According to the Greeting Card Association, Americans purchase approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards annually. And retail sales of greeting cards are estimated between $7 and $8 billion! In other words, greeting cards are trendy.

While Hallmark, the most popular of greeting card companies, employs an in-house team of writers, many other companies, such as Blue Mountain and American Greetings, accept submissions from freelance ghostwriters.

Some of these companies also accept artwork from freelancers, including photos and graphics.

Poetry and Song Lyrics 

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Some people have a real knack for cranking out a haiku on-demand or knocking out song lyrics that make sense. But for the majority of folks out there, these tasks can be daunting. This is when you call in professional writers to help.  

Recording artists, performers, and just regular folks who want to express how they feel to a loved one might seek a ghostwriter to help them.

It takes more than just the ability to rhyme to produce a good poem or meaningful song lyric, though. The words need to flow and elicit emotion, which is something a ghostwriter might be able to do better than a musician or the guy preparing to propose to his girlfriend.  


Image by Quique from Pixabay

Putting together short horoscopes is also something a ghostwriter may do, as it is a task that requires quite a bit of astrology research and needs to be written in a certain tone.

Writing horoscopes has evolved into something of an art form, as well as a popular type of entertainment. As such, they need to be conversational, somewhat personalized, and enjoyable to read.

Restaurant Menus

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

Have you ever sat down in a restaurant and wondered who wrote the menu?

After all, the menu is an important part of the dining experience and should present the dishes in an appetizing way.

But restaurant owners are not generally known for their way with words, so oftentimes a ghostwriter is called upon to work their magic.

Laura Frnka-Davis 
Laura Frnka-Davis, APR is a dedicated communications professional with more than 15 years of experience in public relations and marketing. Over the course of her career, she has spent time at some of Houston’s well-known nonprofits and businesses, including Texas Children’s Hospital, Pierpont Communications, and LifeGift. An active member of the Public Relations Society of America Houston Chapter, she graduated from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, where she majored in journalism and minored in marketing. When she’s not writing or pitching the news media, Laura enjoys traveling, and playing with her beloved dog, Darla.

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