Is It Common for Thought Leaders To Use Ghostwriters?

Juliet Lyall

Yes, absolutely!

It might come as a surprise, but many thought leaders, industry influencers, and high-profile executives routinely use the services of ghostwriters to create their articles and books.

Time constraints, intense business responsibilities, and the need for polished, professional language are just a few reasons why this practice is becoming increasingly common. 

Think about your favorite business publications, the articles you thoroughly enjoy and learn from. 

Many of these content pieces, especially those that come from busy CEOs or executives, are the product of ghostwriters. 

But how common is ghostwriting?

Madeleine Morel, a literary agent, estimates that if you look at the nonfiction bestsellers list right now, at least 60 percent of the books are ghostwritten.

Business leaders who used ghostwriters

1. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft. 

Gates is known for his thought-provoking articles and books on technology and philanthropy, many of which are written with the help of a ‘writing partner.’ 

This allows Gates to share his insights and ideas with the world, while still dedicating his time to his many projects and initiatives.

2. Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Facebook, used a ghostwriter for her best-selling book ‘Lean In’. 

Nell Scovell helped Sandberg write the book, which has had a significant impact on conversations about women in the workplace. 

This collaboration allowed Sandberg to share her experiences and insights, while also managing her responsibilities at Facebook.

3. Howard Schultz is the visionary behind Starbucks Corporation. 

He relates his struggle to restore the company’s financial health and bring back its core values in the book Onward, How Starbucks Fought for Its Life Without Losing Its Soul. 

To recount the journey, Joanne Gordon put pen to paper.

4. “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, written by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter, was actually ghostwritten. 

The original version of the book was created by an anonymous writer, who authored the entire manuscript before passing it off to Kiyosaki and Lechter for revisions. 

The true identity of the ghostwriter remains unknown.

Most ghostwriters are bound by confidentiality agreements or NDAs. So it’s hard to know exactly how many books on the bestseller list aren’t actually the work of their ‘authors’. In non-fiction, estimates range from 60% to a whopping 90%.

Charlotte Peacock, Ghostwriter

Ghostwriting is not only for books

Ghostwriting extends to other content formats as well, such as articles, white papers, and blog posts. 

Thought leaders who are routinely expected to produce quality content turn to ghostwriters for assistance when drafting their articles.

Let’s break down why this is advantageous. 

  1. Time Efficiency: Thought leaders, particularly CEOs and founders, are heavily booked with their professional commitments. For them, effectively delegating their writing is a strategic move.
  2. Professional Quality: Writing is a specialized skill. By hiring ghostwriters, thought leaders guarantee that their ideas and messages are presented in the best possible light.
  3. Consistent Output: A dedicated ghostwriter delivers stable, consistent content to help leaders maintain their post frequency and authority in their field.

So, rest easy knowing that employing a ghostwriter isn’t unusual – instead, it’s a smart move to ensure your message resonates with your audience in a clear, engaging, and impactful way.

Juliet Lyall


Juliet Lyall loves words, and sometimes they love her back.
As a writer, editor, and newsletter agency owner, she understands the content business from both sides.
Juliet’s 15-year writing career includes creating copy and content for 8-figure entrepreneurs and building new publications for public companies.
The Oxford comma. Always.