Last Thursday, I read a piece in the New York Times about celebrities like Kourtney, Kim and Khloé Kardashian, Nicole Richie and Hilary Duff who had “written” or “were writing” novels. Of course, everyone knows these women are using others to help them (or maybe do all of the work) but these writers are anonymous—they are “ghosts.” This made me think of others who use ghosts. Robert Ludlum, for example, who long ago passed away, has “written” many novels since his death. Eric von Lustbader is universally acknowledged as the writer of his books, giving a new, ironic spin on the term “ghost writer.”
And this is true of many other authors—those who are published writers and those who aren’t writers but who want to “write” books. I often wonder why these authors don’t just acknowledge those who are helping them rather than keeping them under wraps. The writer does an enormous amount of heavy lifting and deserves credit for their work.
Of course I work with many collaborators and sometimes they ghost and sometimes they openly collaborate. I feel it is extremely helpful to the collaborator/ghost writer’s career to be acknowledged publicly for the hard work that they do. Ultimately, book publishing is a collaborative business. It takes a village, to paraphrase Hillary, to bring a book to life and I think acknowledging all the people involved can only make for a better experience all around.
I would love to know what your thoughts are about this. Does it bother you to know that a book has been ghostwritten? Do you think ghostwriters should be openly acknowledged?