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Archive for August 28th, 2011


There are different types of writers, and I would hazard a guess that you are one, too.

Am I right?

So, what do I mean when I say ‘absent author’?

Well, clearly I mean an author who is not present during the writing of their book.

What? How can you write a book if you are not present? It’s damn right impossible. Trust me, I’ve tried. One night, I told my computer to finish chapter four and when I checked it in the morning, nothing had been done. I know. It’s unforgivable. I spend hours sitting at my computer and it couldn’t even manage a measly few paragraphs for me. I promptly sent it to the naughty step and left it there to stew for a full sixty minutes.

As writers, whether you write fiction or non-fiction, we spend hours and hours researching, plotting, crafting, devising arc’s, editing, character backgrounds, re-writes……well, you get the idea. We work damn hard.

But, what is the absent author?

Hold on, I’m getting to it.

Let me throw a few names at you. Actually I think it’s easier to show and not tell :)

Left to right - Kardashian, Snooki, Loren Conrad

Okay, are we on the same page? For those of you still scratching your heads, I’m talking about ghostwriters – and not the supernatural kind.

Jordan (aka Katie Price), Hilary Duff, Nicole Richie, Lauren Conrad, and Snooki have all produced novels with the aid of ghostwriters.

They market the book via press and television, leading their young fans to believe they have in fact either picked up a pen, or tapped endlessly at their keyboard and written every word themselves. And, guess what? They get angry if questioned about it.

According to website ‘Jezebel’:

“Ms. (Nicole) Richie promoted her second novel, “Priceless,” in an interview last year with USA Today, describing her writing routine: write early in the morning, before the rest of her family wakes up. “I write all my own stories,” she said.

But Ms. Richie’s publisher, Judith Curr of Atria Books, indicated otherwise, saying that a ghostwriter did most of the writing of Ms. Richie’s book. (Ms. Richie did not respond to a request for comment.)”

Hilary Duff, who when quizzed as to why she didn’t credit her co-writer, basically replied with a ‘why should I? It’s my idea.’ (That is my edited version)

But is this right?

Agents and publishers know there is money to be earned off the back of the celebrity’s name. They also know if they market the product correctly, they can often secure the sale to the movie/TV rights as well. The publishers earn a stack of cash, and the substantially wealthy celebrity extends their ‘brand’….everyone’s happy. Or are they?

What about the writers who ACTUALLY wrote these books.

It is almost non-existent they are ever mentioned on the cover. Doesn’t the publishing industry owe the ghostwriter a little more credit?

Doesn’t the publisher have an obligation to let the reader know their beloved celebrity had (a lot of) help with writing the book they are about to read?

Shouldn’t the publisher have a conscious and clear their desks of celebrity endorsed stories? Maybe make a little room for the talent of up and coming novelists?

Then again, publishers and agents are in this game to make money. It’s probably the main reason they get up in the morning. They’d be nuts if, for instance, they were to choose first time and unknown novelist Sissy Smith from Ramsbottom, Kent over, say, Cameron Diaz.

If you read Kristen Lamb’s blog, you’ll see that social media plays a massive part in a novelist’s road to sales. However, you’d have to be dancing with the fairies and sprinkling magic dust to think you’ll ever create a name bigger than an A-list celebrity. Not even marketing 25 hours day will get you that kind of notoriety.

So, as always, I would like your comments.

Do you think publishers have a moral right to print the co-writer or ghost writers name on the cover of a novel? Should readers know whose writing they are reading? Or is it just a business and they are right to earn their money anyway they choose? Are you a ghostwriter? Would you want to be one?

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