"" Writer's Wanderings: Ghostwriters

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


No, those are not ghosts who write but rather people who usually remain anonymous while writing books for/with another person who most likely has some celebrity status or is well known in a particular field. They are not named or necessarily acknowledged as having contributed to the production of the book. They are paid for their work with a flat fee or some other type of contract that may allow for a portion of the sales.

This week on the writers' forum to which I belong, we have been discussing the ethics of the practice. Some say it's a business and ghostwriting is just another way to pay the mortgage. Others are concerned that it is unethical and deceptive to not mention the ghostwriter somehow, i.e. using the "author's" name and "with" or "as told to" the ghostwriter. (Some of Tom Clancy's recent books have added an extra name.) In the Christian publishing arena this has become quite a debate. Some "authors" have accepted awards for writing their book when it was actually ghostwritten. Ethical? Business? Part of the job?

There are some famous people from the past, Corrie Ten Boom and Dave Wilkerson among them whose books were ghost written. Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer use ghostwriters as well to some extent. Hilary Clinton's book It Takes A Village was actually ghostwritten by Barbara Feinman. The novelization of Star Wars was actually written by Alan Foster not George Lucas.

For those of you who are not writers, I would be interested to know how you would feel if you purchased a book only to find out later that it was written by someone other than the proclaimed author.

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