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Re: Regarding ghostwriting jobs and portfolios

Ace Contributor
Joe T Member Since: Dec 15, 2016
1 of 10

Hi everyone,

 

The majority of work I do on here is ghostwriting for companies / other authors, and I was wondering if there was an official stance on putting this work in my portfolio.

 

I understand that I've submitted the rights to my work to someone else, however, if someone is hiring you for a ghostwriting position, surely they understand that your previous work will also be ghostwritten for someone else?

 

When someone asks for examples of my work, I am only ever able to submit pieces under my own name which I believe is hindering my chances. I'm reluctant to submit published ghostwritten pieces for fear of looking like I'm taking credit for others' work.

 

Thank you for your help (apologies if this should be in job skills discussions).

Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
2 of 10

If you have their permission to add the work to the portfolio, then you can do so.

 

If you do not have their permission, ask them if you can use samples for portfolio purposes.

 

Otherwise, if they own the copyright, and you use samples of the work without their permission, you run the risk of copyright infringement.

 

Hopefully, I correctly understood your question?

 

ETA: My clients are all aware that I'm a writer for hire and the content I wrote was for someone else. 

Ace Contributor
Joe T Member Since: Dec 15, 2016
3 of 10

Yep, that's exactly it. Do you need to declare in your portfolio anywhere that you've obtained permission?

 

Also, I assume you link to your ghostwritten work when applying for jobs, do you need to say anywhere in your pitch that although it's in someone else's name, it's still yours? Or is it assumed by the client?

 

Thank you for the response!

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
4 of 10

Personally, I wouldn't put something that doesn't have my name on it in my portfolio. Upwork would probably be trigger happy with the suspension if the customer complained. I only use links to stuff with a byline. I created my own stuff when I started.

Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
5 of 10

@Joe T wrote:

Yep, that's exactly it. Do you need to declare in your portfolio anywhere that you've obtained permission?

 

No. If you feel you need to, by all means. But, it's not a requirement. As long as you have written permission on file (email or other message) in case someone asks. 

 

Also, I assume you link to your ghostwritten work when applying for jobs, do you need to say anywhere in your pitch that although it's in someone else's name, it's still yours? Or is it assumed by the client?

 

Depending on the proposal, I usually just state the genres and types of writing I have performed for other clientele. You can certainly clarify if it's in someone else's name (this is why I tend to send them the raw sample directly, and by RAW I mean what I wrote and sent to the client--I'm also an editor, so, all of my work is copy-editing even before I send it to my clientele).

 

I want to say it's *usually* assumed by the client but, there's no harm in saying you wrote it with the agreement it would be under someone else's name when posted. 

 

I send samples directly to them due to having my finger in different "writing pies" so to speak. Other writers may have a different method and offer additional advice below.

 

Thank you for the response!

 

You're welcome Smiley Happy


 

Community Guru
Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
6 of 10

@Kat C wrote:

@Joe T wrote:

Yep, that's exactly it. Do you need to declare in your portfolio anywhere that you've obtained permission?

 

No. If you feel you need to, by all means. But, it's not a requirement. As long as you have written permission on file (email or other message) in case someone asks. 

 

It's not required, but I would definitely state it clearly and directly, and here's why: many ghostwriting clients feel strongly about maintaining the illusion that they've written the work themselves. That isn't true for all, of course--I have a client who routinely introduces me as his ghostwriter--but many do. And, outside of Upwork the standard ghostwriting contract would contain a confidentiality clause. Thus, if you post ghostwritten samples (thereby outing the author as not the real author) and don't make it clear that the author is fine with it, it may create trust issues for potential clients who do want the relationship confidential.

 


 

Community Guru
Kat C Member Since: Jul 11, 2016
7 of 10

You are exactly the person I was thinking about when I wrote that...

 

Smiley Happy

Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
8 of 10

Yep, that's the hard part. There are other ways to create content and use it as reference with your byline. Be creative.

Ace Contributor
Joe T Member Since: Dec 15, 2016
9 of 10

Thanks you beautiful people. Your help is much appreciated.

Highlighted
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
10 of 10

Joe,

 

What they said (mostly).

 

As a matter of business practice, I would suggest making permission for portfolio use a clause in your personal client contract. As with any clause in a proposed contract, the client can reject it. Since such permissions have been standard (though not universal) since Moses was a pup, there's no reason not to make it an opt-out rather than a separate point of negotiation.

If you include a link in the portfolio for work that was done on Upwork (and to a site which does not have a means of contacting you, which is a separate issue), Upwork notifies the client on an opt-out basis: If no refusal to use the material is received within a given number of days, "silence implies consent."

 

That gets Upwork off the hook as "publisher," but not necessarily you. For both ethical and practical reasons, get explicit permission—in my opinion, best to do this early and as a routine matter.

Best,

Michael

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