Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ghost Writer

Most writers like to receive credit for their work. Most writers also like to DO their own work.

Ghost writers fill the void -- doing writing work for others, but without receiving credit for their work. They do get paid, however.

A couple scenarios to ponder.

A good friend of mine was offered a lucrative contract to write a "tell all" by someone who'd gotten romantically involved, allegedly, with someone held to high esteem in the black community. The person/person's agent who approached my friend had the story, but not the skills to craft a book about the alleged affair.

My friend decided not to accept the offer, even though it probably could have been a huge seller and discussion stimulator about icons in the black community. My friend's reasoning... future career goals. My friend wants to write novels under his/her own name one day, but feared/wondered what would happen if his/her name was ever associated with the "tell all" project. My friend also didn't think the "tell all" format was the right thing for black folks to do to each other.

Another scenario... this time with fiction.

I've heard rumors/insider talk about many bestselling fiction writers who don't write or research their own work. That they have a staff of ghost writers who take their notes, or follow their formula, and craft their fiction books. Naive, Charlotte/Sex and The City me, was like, "No way!" But then I started thinking... how else can said writers release three or four titles a year? Maybe they ARE that talented and productive.

Another scenario. Celebrities who pen fiction or non-fiction books, who've never been known for their writing abilities. It's possible some ghost writing is involved in their writing process.

Another scenario. Ghost writers often are hired to keep a franchise going, long after the original author's death. One very public example of this is the V.C. Andrews series of books. Originals include Flowers in the Attic, My Sweet Audrina, Petals on the Wind. V.C. Andrews died in 1986, but her novels were so popular that the estate hired a ghost writer/ghost writing team to continue the V.C. Andrews franchise, which continue to come out regularly. And thank God! Those are some awesome books.

If you're a writer type, would you take on a ghost writing job? Could you do a job without receiving credit, but receiving a paycheck? Or, if you want to write a book, but don't have time or craft to do so, would you hire someone to complete the job for you?


Gerard said...

I'm working on a novel and the thrill for me is the freedom of writing something that is of my choice. The art of fiction means I can be as creative I as possibly can. The novel is an act of my imagination, and that is a powerful thing. Ghost writing sounds tempting, but the work wouldn't be mine. And it might be difficult to watch praise and success go to someone else for something that I had done.


Dayne Avery said...

I've seen NY times bestsellers who haven't written a lick with the exception of their names on the back of royalty checks. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I would like to say I would never use/be a ghostwriter, however you never know. I do however admire everyone who puts in the effort to create/stand by their own product.

Nice post.