Awhile ago Olivia J. guest-posted on my blog about concerns with the idea of ghostwriters, while I posted my defense of ghostwriters on her blog.
Check out Olivia’s reservations about ghostwriting, and then see why I think ghostwriting has an important place in the literary universe:
What makes ghostwriters the bomb-diggety:
Ghostwriters aren’t quite ghosts, sadly. But they’re still more or less supernatural in their capabilities! They’re the undercover secret agents of the writing world. The trained, the elite, the you-never-saw-it-coming – the ghostwriters 🙂
- Us regular writers take years of writing to find our own voice
- Ghostwriters are shapeshifters, finding the unique voice of each person they are writing for
- Us regular writers mostly write something we’re passionate about
- Ghostwriters use a magical spell to transfer your passion into their words. Your passion is infectious and as it seeps into them, topics or stories the ghostwriter may have never been passionate about are suddenly passionately written! Teamwork 🙂
- Us regular writers might be considered semi-narcissistic – speaking of myself here mostly 😉 They devote their life to making their own dreams come true
- Ghostwriters are fairygodmothers, passionate about devoting their lives to making others dreams come true. How cool is that!
- Us regular writers are clumsy and walk into doors and walls and lampposts
- Ghostwriters are also clumsy, but at least they float right through the objects. Or wait, is that just ghosts?
Why readers should care about ghostwriting:
Readers should be ecstatic to support the existence of ghostwriters. Not only do ghosts make for great stories, but *ghostwriters* make for great stories. More quality stories will exist for readers when non-writers choose one of these three options:
1) share their story in a medium they’re skilled and passionate in
2) have the passion and take time to gain the skill of writing before putting the story out there
3) hire a ghostwriter to marry their passion and knowledge of the content with the ghostwriter’s passion and skill for writing
The problem with ghostwriting:
Now here’s the horrid part about ghostwriters – as awesome as they are, they don’t get the credit. Hit the NYT bestsellers list, win the Pulitzer prize, get a movie deal – everyone applauds the author (the person who hired the ghostwriter.) The ghostwriter is, well, ghosted. They generally can’t even say they wrote it, because they *officially* didn’t.
So why does the person who hired the ghostwriter get to be the author? Why do they get credit?
Ideas are a dime a dozen. Scratch that. Ideas don’t cost a thing, in fact, us writers can’t turn them off. So no, a ghostwriter isn’t needing the idea from the author. But what we call the author, the person who hired the ghostwriter, they contribute much more than the idea.
The person called the “author” is in fact the author because it’s their brainchild, their knowledge, their story, their platform, their audience, their marketing, their voice, and their passion.
The ghostwriter alone generally won’t have all those things to get the book into the world as the book actually is. If the ghostwriter alone wrote the book, it may miss the knowledge of the topic or the direct experience with the story. Maybe if the ghostwriter alone wrote the book, it wouldn’t reach as large an audience. Maybe if the ghostwriter alone wrote the book, it wouldn’t have that unique voice, style, or tone. Maybe it would just lack passion.
So on that note, mad props to the author for making all this happen!
How to fix the discrepancy:
I get it. The author deserves a lot of credit for making this book happen. And also, the ghostwriter deserves a lot of credit for making this book happen. It takes two. It most definitely takes great skill for a ghostwriter to take all the author has to offer and turn it into a quality book. And it most definitely takes the author to make the book happen in the first place.
Here’s my proposal, the main thing I’d change about the concept of ghostwriting to give proper credit:
On any ghostwritten book, have the front cover say “Written by [name of supernatural ghostwriter person], Directed by [name of person who had the vision to make the book happen]”. We already do this for movies: listing actors, directors, producers, and all myriad of workers in the credits. Just do that for books with ghostwriters too – give them some credit for their kickbutt magical powers 🙂
What do you think?
What say you? Do you think ghostwriters as an entity should just be called “authors”? Or do you think ghostwriters have their place in the literary universe hidden behind the scenes? Share your thoughts in the comments, check out Olivia’s counter-argument, and join the convo 🙂