It’s a Ghost… Writer!

Ghost writing is an interesting concept. You have an idea for a story, but you don’t have the time, or simply just don’t know how to write a story. So, why not save some time and effort and hire someone with the experience and know-how to do it? Not a bad idea.

I think this idea works great for television shows and movie spin-offs and things like that. It can help further brand your show/idea and reach a bigger audience. Not to mention it can help turn more people into readers which, as a writer, I’m certainly not complaining!

However, what about those people who just want to have their own book? Is there an issue of morals there? Can someone be truly satisfied and claim that they wrote a book even if they had it ghost written? I don’t mean to say that ghost writing is bad. Actually, I think it’s great that there are people out there willing to help those who know they don’t have time to dedicate to writing a fully-developed book. But, personally I don’t know if I could advertise “my” book saying, “Hey, I wrote this book, check it out!” I would almost feel like I had to say, “Hey, I had an idea for a book, so I had it ghost written by John/Jane Doe. Check it out!”

As for the other side–the side of the ghost writer–I certainly wouldn’t mind trying my hand at it. I mean, surely if their books sell, ghost writing can provide a decent income for those looking to either make it a full-time job, or bring in some money on the side. Not to mention if you are decent at ghost writing,  you likely have the necessary skills to write your own books.

What do you think? Could you claim a book as your own if you had it ghost written? Would you ever ghost-write a book for someone?



12 thoughts on “It’s a Ghost… Writer!

  1. Good question. I’ve played around with the idea of writing a book but haven’t gotten round to really dedicating any time to it. I haven’t considered the option of Ghost-writing though ’cause if I do ever get the chance to get published at all I’d really like to say that I’ve put the time and effort into getting the job done. There’s no way I’d claim a Ghost-writer’s work to be my own.

  2. It is an interesting notion. I for one would not mind writing anonymously as a ghost if it were fiction. It might be a liberating change of pace to be handed the outline and told “go with it.” It becomes more of an exercise where you can throw words down without really having to worry too much about world building, if this is fiction. If it is non-fiction, say a historical or biography, then it would feel (to me) too much like a report. I write to express my creativity. My waffling answer is: I would ghost if I could pick the work. Would I claim it as my own? I could, privately if not publically (due to non-disclosure agreements etc..) I think a written work belongs to the writer ultimately. In reverse, could you as the comissioner of a ghost written work claim it as your own, with a clear conscience?

    • Interesting. I’m not sure of that, either. I imagine the ghost writer has to forfeit all rights to the work after its completion. I think after receiving the monetary compensation, it would be a little easier to let it go.

      • Payment helps. Did you see ‘Ghost Writer’ with Ewan McGregor. Interesting movie. Certainly takes the process to an extreme.

  3. Hello! Interesting idea. I would say “Ghost Writing” is valid for a situation like, for example, a celebrity wants to write an autobiography or a memoir but lacks the time/energy/knowledge to make a professional final product. So, they hire a ghost writer to compile their stories and experiences into a readable that won’t embarrass the star or their management. And these writers are well paid.

    Other than that? I just don’t see the point.

  4. I’m ok with it when it comes to newspapers and such, but when it comes down to novels I tend to agree with Patrick Ness, you can only aim to write a book that the original author would have liked, not that they would have written.

  5. I dont think that i could ghost write, simply because when I write the story often tends to run away from where I wanted it to go. So following someone elses plan would be difficult. I work with a writing partner and when he writes an outline I struggle to stick to it.
    As for letting someone else write a to an outline that I had I wouldnt be happy with that either i dont think because I have an set view of the worlds that I create so I’m not sure if I’d be happy with someone taking my idea and putting their mark on it. Especially when it involes characters or a storyline that I have alot of foundness for.

  6. On purely ethical grounds, sure, I think I could handle being a ghost-writer – and in some ways it would be liberating if the idea was well-formed, as then I could just enjoy the shaping of the words, which is fun on another level. And, as mentioned above, once you’re paid it feels OK to let it go! Still, I’d probably point at the book whenever I walked past a copy with a friend or family member and say “I wrote that!”.
    As for claiming someone else’s work as my own … no, I couldn’t. And, I am often sceptical of celebrities who have “written” a book. If it’s a memoir, or “autobiography”, why can’t it just be plugged as a biography and be honest? If it isn’t the celebrity’s own voice on the page then, as a fan, I’d be sorely disappointed to be duped. And, as the person taking the credit, I’d have this horrible knawing feeling that’d wear me down … no, it would feel too much like cheating.

  7. This is a touchy subject for me because I think it could be a great thing, and I also think it could be a horrible thing. Look at some of the books out there that have been ghost written – books that otherwise WOULDN’T have been written (ie. a lot of the Animorphs books, some of V.C. Andrews’ books, just to name the two that popped into my head first). It’s always nice when new stories come into the market, even if they’re not strictly written by the author of the books.

    But, I’ve been on the other end of this too. I’ve been asked to write whole chapters or re-write someone’s book to make it better, and I just can’t do it, morally. To know that I put all that time and effort into something just to get paid and not get the recognition (and I’m not talking about fame here, I’m talking about recognition of my ability), is just so hard for me to wrap my head around.

    At the end of the day, I think ghost-writing is appropriate for when an author passes on or wants to stop working on a series but the fans still want more from them. But what you brought up about James Patterson the other week…I just don’t know about that. I wonder if he ever feels guilty?

I know you have thoughts, and I want to hear them...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s