for the Creatives, for the Writers, Showcasing other Creatives

Guest Post: How Ghostwriting is Hurting the Book World

Olivia J has agreed to share her concerns about ghostwriting here, and you can check out my defense of ghostwriting on her site. What a fun collaboration ‚̧ Read the posts, then join the convo ūüôā

“The role of a writer is not to say what we can all say, but what we are unable to say,” -Anais Nin
 
The picture that started it all:
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This launched me and Amy L Sauder into a debate on ghostwriters, so here we are. 

Ghostwriting, or, more generally, ghosting, is not a new concept in the art world. Even Mozart himself was paid to ghostwrite music for wealthier, more famous men of his time. This process¬†involves Person A creating a work, or even doing a varying amount of collaborating on a work with Person B, but then Person B getting credit. Sometimes this includes Person A’s name in smaller print on the front of the book, or not being included at all. Regardless, ghostwriters are paid for their work.

However, I have some criticisms, as per usual.

(For clarity, I’m going to be talking about ghostwriting concerning books.)

1. Exploitation of the Ghostwriter

Sure, ghostwriters consent to what they are doing. However, it still takes an amount of . . . castration to get very little or no credit on something you worked on. It strips away the integrity of the author. By no means am I talking about truly collaborative works, where two authors write a book together because that’s an entirely different process than¬†ghostwriting.¬†

How ghostwriting exploits the author is that it takes away the beautiful creative control of the author: it strips the author of what they do best. By having a shadow, by having someone to always answer to, this confines the author. It confines the author even further because these authors sign contracts to write so many books for someone, or to have certain requirements when they write. There’s nothing more hellish that I can think of than putting a cap on the creativity of writing, by controlling and stifling an author.¬†

Don’t get me wrong, ghostwriting¬†can¬†be a way to launch the author into the publishing sphere, but rarely do I believe that that’s all an author should aspire to be.¬†

2. All About The Money

The problem is that by slapping a popular name on the cover, it appeals to the pervasive consumerism and fame obsession in this society. By having ghostwriters, it allows famous people to sell books, regardless of whether they are telling good stories. It only adds to the tasteless, bland array of fiction. James Patterson has so many books out because people pick the book up with his name on it and expect the same thing. Name recognition or fame should not sell books, even though publishing has become a toxic industry. 

FullSizeRender (10)The reason that authors like Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, etc. use ghostwriters is because of the high demand for their books. Or, rather, the types of stories they tell. This only indicates that these books sell because they have their names on them, not because of the title, cover art, or actual content inside, which is absolutely despicable. The promotion of ghostwriters only promotes writing as a business, not an art form. There should be a happy medium between the business of bookselling and writing as an art, but ghostwriters are not the way to achieve that goal. In fact, ghostwriters only push the flow further into the toxic business sphere. 

3. Cheapening of the Craft

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Sure, everyone can write a book, but maybe not well. This is not to discourage anyone from writing a book if they so please. But what ghostwriting does is that it cuts out a significant chunk of the struggle, the art of writing. 

People like Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Zoe Sugg, and other celebrities don’t write a significant chunk of their books; however, they can still claim to be an author of a book. It takes all of the blood, sweat, and tears out of writing. Every ounce of pain, of late nights you’ve spent writing, every blank page, every scrapped draft all becomes for naught because someone who only pitched some ideas for a book is now credited as an author.¬†

Another problem is that celebrity (fiction) books combine two types of people: writers and non-writers, and this can create disastrous results. Sometimes, what the celebrity/non-writer wants to create or wants to happen isn’t exactly good concerning the objective parts of fiction. This leads to books on the shelves that aren’t the best they can be. Art should always be about making the best the individual can get, always improving. But by allowing half-assed work on the shelves just for money only cheapens writing itself.¬†

By allowing ghostwriting to populate the scene, it almost degrades the hard work and art that others create, just because someone had enough money.

~

Granted, there are exceptions. Autobiographies are¬†one,¬†because biographies are more of a historical account than a creative work. Biographies, and other¬†nonfiction,¬†don’t conform to the same genre conventions that art or novels do, which is where the problems arise with ghostwriters and books.¬†

Maybe I would consider ghostwriting, just for the money. But never, under any circumstances, would I make that my career or the only creative work I was writing.

Tread lightly, fellow authors,

~The WordShaker


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Olivia J, The WordShaker is just that: a word shaker. She is a writer, artist, creative extraordinaire, and skilled in the ways of procrastination and being too blunt. She’s going to be a loving¬†wife, mother, published author, speaker, and professional adventurer someday – and whatever else God has in store for her. Olivia has had three short stories published in her high school’s writing journal, and received¬†merit awards for her art in numerous art shows, started and fosters her own creative writing club at her high school, and plans to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Social Media Links:

Instagram: @olivia.j.the.wordshaker

How awesome is this Wordshaker!? ūüôā What do you think about ghostwriting? Does it add or detract to the literary world? Check out my Defense of Ghostwriting on her site (don’t forget to follow her while you’re at it!), then join the convo in the comments below.

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for the Writers, Musings of a Creative

My #1 Hit Single

I’m not sure how this happened. Adele’s song “Hello” just went down to #2 on the Billboard chart, beat out of the #1 slot by Justin Bieber’s “Sorry.” Justin Bieber isn’t *that* great, certainly can’t compare to Adele. I mean, even I could create a song better than that – I just don’t have the time. If I had the time, I’d whip out my instruments, have a record deal, a tour, and a #1 hit single in no time, give Adele & Bieber a run for their money.

What, you think I’m crazy?¬†

I’ve had music lessons – piano, guitar, violin, and voice. Plus I sing allllll the time in the car and Glee is my favorite TV show.¬†

Still think I’m psycho?¬†

I’m telling you, I’d have a #1 Hit Single if I just had the time.¬†

I could so do that. 

Okay, none of that is true, we all know that. It takes a whole lot more than having general music knowledge to make it big. First off, I’m not necessarily skilled just because I learned some music. Secondly, once I am skilled, it takes a whole lot of knowledge about the business world of music just to get noticed, let alone succeed with a record deal, concert, and/or hit single. Newsflash: Adele & Bieber & anyone you hear on the radio had to work hard to make it! Not just anyone can do it. Right?

So that up there? Psycho wannabe popstar? Not me. But it’s a whole bunch of people out in this world, only I’m not talking about the music world. I’m talking about the writing world.

“I’ve been told I should write a book – I just don’t have the time.”

“I’ve always wanted to write the next NYT Bestseller, I’m just too busy.”

I’m going to say something you might disagree with….¬†You can’t write that book!

At least not now. Just because you aced High School English doesn’t mean you can write a book. There’s rules that don’t apply to academic English you have to learn. There’s lots of practice to make your great story idea into an actually readable masterpiece that reads like what you imagine in your headspace. And even once you have studied and practiced and finally finished¬†that manuscript, there’s a whole lot about the writing business you have to learn/know to make it big, in addition to a hint of luck.

Think you have what it takes to be a writer? Then make the time and do it. Learn. Practice. Grow.

Otherwise, let me break it to you – you cannot write the next bestseller if you have the time. It takes a whole lot more than just time to get there. Just because you have a great story doesn’t mean you have a great book. And it’s okay if you don’t have that. Because maybe you have what it takes to make the next Billboard #1 Hit Single – something I don’t have.

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