Do Authors Use Ghostwriters? (Solved for 20 Writers)

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Some authors publish so many books you start to wonder if they use ghostwriters.

Do authors use ghostwriters?

Many well-known authors use ghostwriters to help them write their books. Nearly 60% of all nonfiction books are products of ghostwriting. Robert Ludlum, Tom Clancy, and James Patterson use ghostwriters. Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Danielle Steele do not work with ghostwriters.

In this article, we’ll answer everything you need to know about, “Do authors use ghostwriters?”

Which Famous Authors Use Ghostwriters?

A ghost on a red background—Do Authors Use Ghostwriters
Image by the author via Canva—Do Authors Use Ghostwriters?

A ghostwriter is a writer or group of writers who undertake projects without credit (usually).

Instead, the entire project gets attributed to another publicly named author. Ghostwriters can write books, articles, speeches, or other works for clients who want to take sole credit.

While it’s difficult to always know who uses ghostwriters, there have been quite a few high-profile cases of well-known authors who work with them.

Here are is a shortlist of famous authors who use ghostwriters:

  • Robert Ludlum
  • Alan Greenspan, who you might know as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve
  • Ronald Reagan, Former American President, in his autobiography, An American Life
  • Tom Clancy
  • R. L. Stine, in his children’s series called, Goosebumps
  • Ian Fleming, who is the brain behind the original James Bond series
  • General Norman Schwarzkopf, author of, It Doesn’t Take a Hero, with Peter Petre
  • Alexandre Dumas author of The Count of Monte Cristo and Three Musketeers
  • Donald Trump used Tony Schwartz to ghostwrite his book The Art of the Deal

I should note that authors sometimes use ghostwriters once.

Just because an author used a ghostwriter for one or two books doesn’t necessarily mean that they rely on ghostwriters for every book.

Does Danielle Steel Use Ghostwriters?

Danielle Steel is one of the most prolific authors in the world. She has over 170 books in her name (and growing almost daily), many of them being New York Times bestsellers.

In fact, a whopping 22 of them got adapted for TV.

Given her success, it’s reasonable to ask if Danielle Steel uses ghostwriters. There is, however, no evidence of her using them.

Given the high demand for her work and the fact that she has written so many books, it’s certainly possible that she may use ghostwriters one day.

Does Stephen King Use Ghostwriters?

Stephen King is another famously prolific author.

Like Danielle Steel, he too has plenty of books under his belt—64 in total (as of now). He also boasts of over 120 short stories and five published nonfiction books.

That’s not all.

King has about 20 screenplays and 16 other written works. There has been speculation over whether he uses ghostwriters.

However, as of now, there is no evidence to suggest that he does.

All of his books get credited to him or to a co-author. Unless he admits to using a ghostwriter, likely, we’ll never know for sure.

Does David Baldacci Use Ghostwriters?

David Baldacci is a best-selling author with over 110 million book copies in print.

He has about 42 adult and seven young readers novels in this name. Additionally, he has plenty of screenplays and TV shows.

While most authors write about one or two genres, David Baldacci’s writing spans many areas. Over the years, he has had about two bestsellers yearly.

So, it’s no great surprise that some people have asked if he uses ghostwriters.

The question popped up in an interview with Simon McDonald in 2014. However, David Baldacci denied it and said he authors all of his books himself.

Does Grisham Use Ghostwriters?

John Grisham is an American author, lawyer, and politician who has written 28 novels, one work of nonfiction, and one short story.

He has over 300 million copies of his books in print worldwide.

He has written a thriller every year for about 10-15 years. That prowess has led to speculations that he uses ghostwriters.

However, as of now, there is no evidence to suggest that he does.

Turns out Grisham has the discipline to adhere to a book writing process. In a talk with Random House, he fully outlined his impressive strategy, which starts in January and ends in July.

Does James Patterson Use Ghostwriters?

James Patterson is an American author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

He has written more than 200 novels, with over 114 of them becoming New York Times bestsellers. He is the author of 67 number-one bestsellers, which is a Guinness World record according to the New York Times.

However, most of his work contains many co-authors.

For this reason, he faces criticism that he may not be co-writing his books but using the services of ghostwriters. While he may not use ghostwriters for every work, it’s likely that he does use them for some.

Does Dean Koontz Use Ghostwriters?

Dean Koontz is an American author of mostly suspense and thriller novels, although his stories usually cross genres.

He has over 105 books, plenty of short stories, and novellas.

He has sold over 450 million copies of his bestselling novels. While such a volume of work might lead anyone to think that Dean Koontz uses ghostwriters, the answer is no.

He writes all his work himself, logging up to 16 hours a day.

Does Michael Connelly Use Ghost Writers?

Michael Connelly is an American author of detective fiction.

He has written 36 novels with over 80 million copies sold worldwide. Several of his books got adapted for film and television shows.

Connelly is a very prolific author, and many people have wondered if he uses ghostwriters. However, he writes all of his books himself.

He follows a very regimented writing process for every work. This process allows him to produce a new book every year.

Does Nora Roberts Use Ghostwriters?

Nora Roberts is another American author with 225 books to her name, including romance, mystery, and thriller novels.

She is probably the most prolific writer on this list, publishing at least five books yearly. Additionally, she has over half a billion copies of her books in print.

With this much output, there will always be speculations about using ghostwriters.

The rumor got enhanced by the 2019 plagiarism scandal that rocked her fans and threw suspicion on the authorship of her romance novel.

However, she has consistently denied these allegations.

Therefore, current facts suggest that she writes all her books herself, spending about 6 to 8 hours a day.

Does Brandon Sanderson Use Ghost Writers?

Brandon Sanderson is an American epic fantasy and science fiction author. He has written more than 51 books, with over 20 becoming New York Times bestsellers.

While some people accuse him of using ghostwriters, the answer is no.

He writes all his books himself, following a specific writing process that he applies to every new book. That is evident since most of his works possess the same writing style and consistency in ideas.

Does Harlan Coben Use Ghost Writers?

Harlan Coben is another American author of mystery, thriller, and suspense novels.

He has written over 32 books, with over 75 million copies sold.

Coben is a popular author whose work sells well.

That success has led to some accusations that he uses ghostwriters. However, Coben unequivocally denies these allegations.

He writes all his books himself and spends a lot of time on research to ensure the accuracy of each work.

Does JK Rowling Use Ghostwriters?

JK Rowling is probably the most well-known author on this list.

She is the British author of the Harry Potter series, The Casual Vacancy, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

While rumor has it that she uses ghostwriters for her work, the answer is “no,” she doesn’t use them.

She writes all her books herself.

However, like many authors, she uses a team of editors to help her finalize her work.

5 Reasons Authors Use Ghostwriters

There are at least five good reasons that authors seek the help of ghostwriters.

Those five reasons are:

  • Publish more books
  • Fill skill gaps
  • They are not a native speaker
  • The topic is too personal
  • Easier and faster

Publish More Books

Many successful authors use ghostwriters to help them scale up their publishing.

There are several reasons for this. First, an author can only write and publish so many books themselves. At a certain point, it simply becomes impractical to try to do everything yourself.

Second, ghostwriters are not always constrained to the same deadlines.

Many bestselling authors are already under contract for at least one new book or novel per year. They might not possess the creative capacity to churn out a second or third high-quality book.

A ghostwriter will have the time and resources to dedicate to the project, and they can also draw on a wider range of experience.

Fill Skill Gaps

Many people assume that all authors are equally skilled at writing, but the truth is that ghostwriters play an important role in the publishing industry.

While some authors are extremely talented wordsmiths, others may be experts in their field but lack the writing skills to produce a book-length work. In these cases, ghostwriters are hired to fill the skill gap.

Working closely with the author, the ghostwriter develops the book’s overall concept and produces a finished manuscript.

In some cases, the author’s name will appear on the cover, while in others the ghostwriter will receive some level of credit as a contributor. Either way, ghostwriters play a vital role in helping authors share their expertise with the world.

They Are Not a Native Speaker

Many authors choose to hire ghostwriters because they feel that a ghostwriter can better express their ideas in their native language.

This is especially true for authors who write in languages other than English.

While some writers are able to overcome the language barrier and produce quality work, others find it difficult to communicate their ideas clearly in a second language.

As a result, they may choose to hire a ghostwriter who can help them translate their ideas into English (or any other language).

In addition to overcoming the language barrier, ghostwriters can also help authors improve the clarity and flow of their writing. By working with a professional writer, authors can ensure that their books are well-written and free of errors.

The Topic Is Too Personal

Authorship is a personal process by its very nature.

To produce a work, an author must draw upon their own life experiences, thoughts, and emotions. In some cases, the subject matter may be too personal or painful for the author to write about directly.

In these situations, authors may choose to hire a ghostwriter.

While this arrangement may seem unusual, it can be beneficial for both parties involved. The author can maintain a degree of separation from the project, while still being able to see their work in print.

And the ghostwriter can often find satisfaction in knowing that they have helped another person tell their story.

Easier and Faster

It is no secret that many authors rely on the help of ghostwriters to complete their books for convenience.

Using a ghostwriter is often the easier and faster process than writing the book by themselves. With a ghostwriter, the author simply provides an outline of the book, along with their ideas and vision for how they want it written.

The ghostwriter then takes these notes and turns them into a full-fledged manuscript, tweaking as needed to make sure that every piece fits together smoothly.

In contrast, authors who don’t use ghostwriters typically have to come up with everything from scratch:

  • Choosing different themes and ideas for each chapter
  • Outlining the structure of the book
  • Filling in all of the necessary details

Clearly, then, ghostwriting offers a far more convenient way for authors to complete their work.

Here is a good video about what ghostwriters actually do:

YouTube video by Book Launchers—Do Authors Use Ghostwriters?

Final Thoughts: Do Authors Use Ghostwriters?

The bottom line is that most authors of fiction do not use ghostwriters and many nonfiction authors do.

There is nothing wrong with using ghostwriters.

If you’re interested in reading more about ghostwriting, please take a look at these hand-selected articles: