Not the early 90’s PBS children’s mystery television show, but a ghostwriter as in one who does ghostwriting.
Ghostwriting is when a writer writes content that is officially credited to another person. Many public figures, artists, organizations and even writers use ghostwriters. A ghostwriter can have varying degrees of involvement in the production of work – from editing to actually doing all of the writing.
What’s your take on Ghostwriting in 2015?
Ghostwriting is a legitimate, recognized profession. The Writers Union of Canada actually maintains a list of members who are willing to do ghost writing.
In class we discussed the ethical considerations of ghostwriting.
The main issues being with transparency, honesty and ownership.
One of the questions asked was: Are you being honest with your audience?
I’m conflicted. To me, ghostwriting is just like any other business transaction. If you’re a good ghostwriter, shouldn’t the end result be that no one can tell what you wrote was written by anyone other than the credited author?
If a ghostwriter was able to effectively get “in the mind” of a person/organization and craft written content that was true to their vision and voice, is that dishonest?
I don’t know.
What do I do know, is that I certainly felt cheated when I found out James Patterson’s books are written by a ‘team’ of people… but it’s very clearly his name dominating every book cover.
The following are two examples of effective and ineffective ghostwriting under the premise of transparency and honesty.
Rebels: City of Indra – Young Adults Novel
By Kendall & Kylie Jenner (Ghostwritten by Maya Sloan)
Kendall and Kylie Jenner are the credited authors of this young adults novel, but the two sisters didn’t actually write the book. This “revelation” stirred some controversy online with many calling out the girls for being frauds and whatnot. However, in this case, Kendall and Kylie never claimed to be sole authors of this book and regularly acknowledged the team that helped them write the book. In fact, Maya Sloan, the ghostwriter, did a lot of interviews with the sisters, photo-ops and is mentioned in the title pages of the book. In this case, there was a lot of transparency regarding the creative process.
Girl Online – Young Adults Novel
By Zoe Sugg (Ghostwritten by Siobhan Curham)
This was the debut novel of English internet celebrity Zoe Sugg. Zoe Sugg is a fashion and beauty video blogger and a popular internet personality. Allegations surfaced that the book was ghostwritten and sparked a social media frenzy. Unlike Kendall and Kylie’s book, Zoe did all promotions for the novel and took full credit as author. It wasn’t until the allegations surfaced that Zoe made mention of a collaborative team. She only later admitted to being given “help” in writing the book. Although she insisted the story and characters were hers, the damage was already done. Fans felt lied to and began to question her authenticity. Zoe’s ghostwriter Siobhan Curham was not able to give details about her involvement due to legal reasons, thus increasing the cloud hanging over the project, and “author” Zoe Sugg.
Like I said, i’ve yet to fully develop an opinion on this whole “is Ghostwriting ethical” question. As someone who struggles in the art of written word, I happened to land upon a great Forbes article that sums up all the jumbled thoughts I had on the topic. It’s as though the article was ghost written for me.
There’s some good stuff up there (up there being my brain)… It just needs some help getting out… who am I gonna call?