Make My Day
GHOST WRITERS IN THE SKY
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
July 16, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- I'm a ghost writer. Other people hire me to write stuff for them, but they get to put their name on it. I've ghost-written blog posts, brochures, press releases, Websites, and half a book.
It's an odd career choice, especially when you consider that if you did this in high school or college, it was cheating and you could be expelled for it.
I'd like to say that's why I turned down a guy in college who asked me to write his paper for $10. But in truth, I turned him down because it was a Thursday night, I was going to a party, and I wasn't changing my plans for 10 lousy bucks. (He wouldn't go any higher either, so I didn't feel bad when I left him with his stack of books and a pad of paper.)
Ghost writing is usually considered a reputable, if mostly anonymous and thankless, job. Ghost writers write speeches for politicians and CEOs, books for celebrities, and marketing copy and press releases for businesses. A ghost writer never gets their name on anything they write, but they do get their name on their paycheck, and that's all that matters.
Now there's a new type of ghost writer in town: the dating service ghost writer. These wordsmiths are flexing their literary muscles, writing clever little messages for single men and women who don't have the time or ability to be clever themselves.
A recent story on the BBC Website discussed how several ghost writers are becoming virtual Cyrano de Bergeracs by writing messages on behalf of dating service customers.
"We've noticed a definite trend with more and more of these companies springing up, and there is a huge demand," Mark Brooks, editor of Online Personals Watch, an Internet dating trend-tracking site, told the BBC.
Evan Marc Katz, a dating coach and owner of e-cyrano.com, told the Beeb, "[t]here are a surprising number of people out there who don't know how to market themselves in an original way."
Apparently, "I like piņa coladas, getting caught in the rain, and the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne," just doesn't cut it anymore.
So that's where Katz comes in. He interviews his clients extensively, and then writes the initial profile message for around $230, and no mention of piņa coladas.
Some of the dating ghost writers are also dating coaches, charging around $140 per hour to walk their clients through every step of a date. And a few will even "ghost" for a client - we ghost writers use "ghost" as a verb. We're cool that way - picking out the potential partners, communicating via email with them, and even arranging the first date. One company, VDA, will guarantee two to five dates per month, and will only charge $600 - $1,200 per month to do it.
Katz says that his clients are not losers, but are usually successful professionals. You'd have to be to spend $1,200 per month to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. (But if you're making that much money and still can't find a significant other, the "loser" label would like to have a word with you.)
But don't assume that Katz is just some geek who happens to be handy with a pen and paper. He has loads of experience to back it up.
"I did online dating myself for years with great success and I worked as a customer-care representative for an online dating company," said Karz.
Doing something like online dating "for years" doesn't sound like great success to me, unless one's goal is to be saddled with disappointing date after disappointing date. But still, Katz is married now, so it looks like all his years of hard work and dating drudgery finally paid off.
However, some critics claim that dating service ghost writing is dishonest
"It's awful. You're misrepresenting yourself," said Jared Gordon, owner of the A Bad Case of the Dates blog.
No, not really. A book ghost writer doesn't lie about her subject. A speechwriter doesn't write lies for his client. An advertising agency doesn't lie about its - er never mind. All a dating ghost writer does is present their client in the best possible light. Most people don't have the innate ability or willingness to promote themselves. They either don't know how or are too humble to promote themselves in the best possible light. It takes a ghost writer to bring out the information and then show the world how great their clients are.
Who am I to tell someone it's dishonest or that they're misrepresenting themselves?
After all, they've got more than 10 bucks, and I'm already married, so it's not like I've got plans on a Thursday night.
Erik also publishes his humor column and other articles at Erik Deckers' Laughing Stalk blog.