“Boo! I’m you, but not you!”

Recently on About.me, a man who identified himself as a “ghostwriter” viewed my profile. I’m not in need of one of those. Nevertheless, it prompted me to think on what “ghostwriting” means in terms of you as “the author.”

“Ghostwriters” have always been around, of course. Bookstores and Amazon are awash with books written by someone other than “the author.” And we as readers don’t seem to mind.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a ghost costume.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a ghost costume.

We know “celebrities” commission “ghostwriters.” So do certain “celebrity” writers/ historians who have “research assistants” do the bulk of the writing. I suspect as purchasers we know that’s dishonest behavior, but we let it slide.

Much more honest is at least the set-up where “the author” is listed first, in bold type, AND, in smaller type, the “additional” writer is named – even though the latter, again, has probably done most of the writing.

An editor is one thing. A translator is another. Neither of those people is you – the author – and all involved understand that.

A “ghostwriter” is decidedly something else. Could I have shared the stories I do with a “ghostwriter” and had him/ her write them under my name? Sure. But I’d have felt silly. Novels that I take the credit for that are written by someone else?

Leaving aside that if I’d had then I wouldn’t have had “the fun” or satisfaction of writing the books myself, the bottom line is you aren’t really “an author” if someone else writes for you.

Further thoughts?

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