Should Gender Matter in Ghostwriting?

Business people

As many of you know, I’m a female ghostwriter. I have worked with male clients and I have worked with female clients – actually, more male than female. Nearly all the books I’ve ghostwritten have been entrepreneurial memoirs or how-to business guides based on a client’s unique approach or technique. Some have been technology-related, others business strategy, none have been fluff (ok, yes I did co-author The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Webkinz with my son, but that was not a ghostwriting project, just to be clear.)

When potential clients approach me, or are referred to me by editors, agents, colleagues, and friends, the referral is typically made based on my background and experience. I’ve authored, co-authored, or ghosted nearly 30 non-fiction books, including a bestseller. Rarely has gender been a factor, at least to my knowledge.

Which is why I was surprised to learn that a potential client had decided he would rather work with a male ghostwriter than a female ghostwriter. My background, my experience, my skill, even my geographic location were not at issue, only my gender. I found that interesting. I’m not faulting the guy – he should certainly choose the writer he is most comfortable with, since chemistry is important to a successful writing relationship. But now I’m wondering how often gender is an issue. Maybe it’s more common than I imagined.

Have you had clients tell you up front that they were looking for a man or a woman, specifically?


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Marcia Layton Turner


  1. Leah Nicholson on June 4, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Hi Marcia,
    Interesting post! As an agent, unfortunately, I come across this more than I would like to admit. In many cases, despite the client’s preference for a man or a woman, I send the best qualified candidates…even if they aren’t of the preferred gender.

    Sometimes, my plan works and after seeing the qualifications and interviewing the person, the client drops it.

    Other times, they don’t. I’ve found this mostly when working on memoirs. Because memoirs are deeply personal, I figure the client has a lot of issues to discuss and they should be comfortable discussing them. So, if a particular gender will make them more comfortable, so be it.

    For the most part it isn’t done in a sexist way, but when it is, I have a really hard time dealing with it.

    • Marcia Layton Turner on June 4, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      How interesting, Leah. I love how you put quality above gender in how you try and serve your client. But I can also understand wanting someone of a certain gender if, as you said, the work to be done is intensely personal.

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