When I discovered Olivia’s reservations about ghostwriting in the world, we agreed to share our thoughts. I think ghostwriting has a place in the literary universe, and here’s why:
Why to consider hiring a ghostwriter:
*Actual image of a ghostwriter*
In my class “Do You Have a Book in You?” I don’t coddle. I don’t say, “You have a story to tell, so you have a book in you.” You may have a book in you, but there’s more than just “having a story to tell” involved in that.
And for some people, they have a story to tell, but they don’t have a book in them. They don’t have a passion for the writing, they have a passion for the message, the story. Those people would be wise to at least take a moment to consider a ghostwriter.
- If writing isn’t your dream, are you willing to devote time and energy to writing a book instead of devoting that time and energy to your actual dream?
- Since you likely aren’t trained in writing since it’s not your passion, are you willing to sacrifice quality in getting your book out there – sacrificing the number of readers and the impact of the message?
-Alternatively, can you devote the adequate time, effort, and income to receive the training necessary to clearly communicate the story you want to tell with the quality it deserves?
-If you do choose to devote time, energy, and income towards receiving training on writing, are you willing to chance diluting the passion of the message with the obligatory monotony of a medium you aren’t passionate about working in?
There are options other than hiring a ghostwriter of course: Telling your message in a medium you *are* passionate about, but that’s a whole nother blogpost – or actually, it’s a 30-minute online course you can take for free ;)
If you look at those questions and decide, “Yes, I must have a book out there, but no, I can’t write it.”
Then instead of devoting time and energy to writing a book, instead devote some finances to hiring a ghostwriter.
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 like 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!
-Us regular writers might be considered semi-narcissistic – speaking of myself here mostly ;) They devote their life to making their dreams come true.
-Ghostwriters are fairy godmothers, 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.
*Also actual image of a ghostwriter*
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 likely isn’t needing the idea from the author, that’s not what makes the book. But what we call the author, the person who hired the ghostwriter, they contribute much more than the idea.
I get why the person called the “author” is, in fact, the author. It’s their brainchild, their knowledge, their story, their platform, their audience, their marketing, their voice, and their passion.
The ghostwriter alone generally wouldn’t have all those things to get the book out there as a successful book, certainly not as the book it actually is. If the ghostwriter alone wrote the book, maybe it would 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 the 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 on my site, and join the convo!
Amy L Sauder has been called both “Quirky Meta Mystery” and “Walking Fairytale,” and she can’t decide which is the highest compliment.
Since gaining her English Lit degree, she has studied creative writing and dabbled in other arts she probably has no business dabbling in. Amy strongly believes that in some parallel universe her clumsy self has figured out how to be a trapeze artist. In any universe, she’s also passionate about mac 'n' cheese and red hair, but that’s beside the point.
You can follow her creative journey at amylsauder.wordpress.com, from the “Once Upon” to the “Ever After” and every point in between.
You can also find her on social media:
Thank you, Amy, for collaborating with me! This discussion is nowhere near over, and we'd love to hear your thoughts. Don't forget to check out my strongly worded thoughts on her blog!