Ghostwriting - a sin or not?


On the topic of ghostwriting, it happens everywhere.

I am informed for example that George RR Martin emploed a linguist to construct his “invented” languages and also regularly hires people for other stuff.


Honesty is the best policy.


It’s better to avoid misleading representation of one’s accomplishments or skill level.

It’s one thing when people want more complete intellectual ownership of something they came up, such as for example when professional writers help politicians put their memories in words when writing down an autobiography, or when academic writers use undisclosed literary editors, and a completely different thing when people just pay someone to make them look like good writers when they are not.

In your case, if your goal is to more fully ‘own’ the credit for the setting and the plot you have created, then that’s one thing. But looking at somebody else’s skillfully chosen words and convincing yourself that those are yours, as some people perhaps end up doing, that, in my opinion, would most likely be a sin, even if no intellectual-property rights were being infringed.

It’s not wrong to avoid littering your cover with credit for everybody who has helped you with something. But it would still be wrong to pay someone for the right to say you yourself single-handedly did what that person actually did. The spotlight can be bought out wholly (not that it’s noble to do so), but in no part can any sort of right to lie be purchased or otherwise established.


I’ve read many books where the author acknowledges the help or greater assistance of others. I’ve seen book covers with Bob Smith with John Doe. And acknowledgements like: "I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Whoever for taking my concepts and turning them into the book you have in your hands, or for collecting my thoughts and memories into a cogent, highly readable book.


So many conflicting opinions about this topic! I hardly even know what to believe anymore. :thinking:


Nothing at all wrong with publishing a ghost written novel. Just make sure it is well proof read as you wouldn’t want any “improvisations” being made.


What mostly comes up with celebrity ghostwriting? :thinking:


This subject.


Why does it even consider a sin, you created a novel and you give it to a Ghostwriter to do you work. And you pay the person for the work also they why consider it as a sin. You didn’t steal or use someones name to make your novel famous. It is your work and it is done with some help from a Ghostwriter. It is normal and it is a SIN


The subject of whether it’s a sin or not comes up with celebrity ghostwriting? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that many celebrities talk about the morality of ghostwriting. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


I personally don’t think it’s a sin, so long as you are honest if anyone ever asks if you were the one to write the outline. I think it’s perfectly acceptable that sometimes there are things outside of your control, (sickness, time, skills) like you mentioned, that would get in the way of writing it yourself, so allowing someone else to get that responsibility while you paid them seems to be an ok thing. I don’t think I’d ever get mad at someone if they told me they didn’t actually write a book so long as they didn’t cheat someone else out of the job (by not paying them enough, or something of that nature).

I think your last sentence said it right that ghostwriting is a business and sometimes it works for certain parties to make use of it. :slight_smile: Some of the responses said to use a joint pseudonym, I think that’s a good option too!


There may be lots of reasons someone may want to ghostwrite or be ghostwritten for.

In the case of celebrity books, the author may well reap the reward of having greater sales of their work than they would if it were not presented under the name of a celebrity.

And a celebrity who may, for example, have an interesting idea for a book or simply a life that would make a great story, but limited skill as a writer, gets to see their ideas brought to life better than they could do alone.

If I build and decorate a home, I have the vision. I pay other people to do the gruntwork - the plastering, painting and plumbing, upholstery or whatever. I may also pay an architect or interior designer to assist with ideas and expertise - with turning what I want into reality.

Nonetheless, it is my home, my project, under my control at the end of the day. And while I may be thankful to the others who helped to build and furnish it, and of course provide appropriate monetary compensation to them, there is no sin in calling it my house that I built and decorated, and not theirs.


What is the Catholic portal and what help do you need on it? :neutral_face:


Honestly it is not a sin. However, proper copyright is required for the ideas and concepts. Also, the written portion of the book. If you take full credit it is wrong and if the person writes full credit is wrong since the idea is not by them. I hope this helps. Both or all names contribute should be properly started.


Blockquote Where it could be sinful is if the person to whom the work is attributed allows others to believe that the work represents his or her own writing skill.

How could the person stop people from believing that, considering that the general assumption for fictional works is that the author whose name is written on the book cover is the person who wrote it? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


I was thinking more of an autobiography or other non-fiction work, as I tend to assume most non-writers get help in telling their stories or expressing their opinions. I think it’s fine to recruit someone who has the skills to help you tell your story or speak your mind.

Even in the case of fiction, if one has a great idea for a story but lacks writing skill, I see nothing wrong with getting help, as long as one is honest about having done so.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit