Ghostwriting: Guest Blog by Cecil Murphey

Cecil Murphey was one of the special speakers at The Christian PEN convention in April. He has written or cowritten more than 135 books. I am blessed to call him a dear friend. His workshop on ghostwriting was informative and helpful for the editors  who attended “PENCON.”

Here are some of the highlights of his presentation.

Tips on Being a Ghostwriter

1. Have empathy.
A ghostwriter has to identify with people and have empathy for them. It is their perspective that matters—not yours. Tell them often, “This is your book. My job is to help you tell your story more effectively.”

2. Listen.
Ghostwriters need to listen without judgment and hear what is unspoken. What is the author not saying?  Do the facts of the story add up? Investigate the details that are left out. Connect the dots of what is spoken and what is not spoken.

3. Record everything.
Taking a recording device to the interviews frees you to listen and fully focus on the person. Afterward, have the recording transcribed.

4. Know your objective.
Learning information is a “cool” objective. Learn about people’s hearts is a “warm” objective. A ghostwriter needs both.

5. Research.
The person you are writing about may not remember all the details of his or her own story. Research the facts.


There are a few cons to being a ghostwriter:

  • Your name is not well known. (Usually your name is not listed on the book cover.)
  • You don’t get the publicity.
  • Some people are very demanding and difficult to work with.
  • You may not have editorial rights.
  • Your talent may go unrecognized.
  • Your sense of ownership gets removed.


If you are interested in ghostwriting, here are a few ways to get started.

  • Write a profile or testimony to see if you can tell someone else’s story effectively.
  • Ask yourself if you can work with someone you don’t agree with or someone whose morals and integrity don’t match yours.
  • Join organizations, such as The Christian PEN and attend writer’s conferences.
  • Let people know you are available to ghostwrite.
  • Decide which areas of ghostwriting you want to do: autobiographies, celebrities, the “underdog,” etc.
  • Pass on work that you know you can’t do well.



Cecil MurpheyVeteran author Cecil (“Cec”) Murphey has written or cowritten more than 135 books, including the New York Times best seller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold in the millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.

Cec stays busy as a professional writer and travels extensively to speak on topics such as writing, spiritual growth, caregiving, significant living, sexual abuse, and recovery.

Prior to launching his career as a full-time writer and speaker, Cec served as pastor in metropolitan Atlanta, as a volunteer hospital chaplain for ten years, and as a missionary in Kenya for six years.     

Visit his website at