CEOs turn to ghostwriters in a self-publishing flurry

With the ‘vanity press’ stigma dissipating, busy execs rely on outside wordsmiths to give voice to their stories in DIY tomes.

Ralph Braun had a story to tell, and he needed a ghostwriter.

Once a disabled youth who couldn’t go to school because of his multiple sclerosis, he ended up founding an international company that creates lifts to make vans wheelchair-accessible.

So the CEO hired a ghostwriting firm to create “Rise Above,” an autobiography he distributes to dealers, occupational therapists—and customers. He leaves a signed copy in the glove compartment of every van he sells, says Jerrold R. Jenkins, founder of Jenkins Group, which produced the book.

CEOs and other corporate authors often want to publish not to create a revenue stream but to boost their profiles and establish themselves as experts or industry leaders.

“Their PR firm may say we could really position you better as a keynote speaker or to write an article in The Wall Street Journal if you had more credibility, and one of those credibility items is authoring a book,” Jenkins says.

Many are bypassing traditional publishers amid a revolution in self-publishing, says Dan Gerstein of Gotham Ghostwriters.

‘Sherpas’ for CEOs

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