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JJ Cooper
10-20-2009, 02:45 PM
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1221539/Author-anger-stars-stampede-write-novel-just-like-Jordan.html

Well ... The Daily Mail Headline reads 'Author Anger as Stars Stampede to Write a Novel Just Like Jordan' but there wasn't any real 'author anger' shown.



There was a time when all a glamour girl needed to write was her autograph.

But these days the book world is being increasingly taken over by celebrities more noted for their looks than their literary skills.
Following the phenomenal success of a series by Jordan, other stars approached to write novels include Martine McCutcheon, Sharon Osbourne, Ulrika Jonsson, Coleen Nolan and Fern Britton.

The trend has caused outrage among more traditional authors, who accuse publishers of accepting poor-quality manuscripts because they have a famous name attached.


I am quite surprised at Jordan's numbers:



Her two autobiographies and four novels have sold more than three million copies and in 2007 one of her novels, Crystal, outsold the entire Booker shortlist.

After her break-up from Peter Andre, she has yet another autobiography and a novel due out next year. Her success has created a huge demand for celebrity-written novels.


I find it an interesting topic now that celebs seem to be trying their hand more in the fiction market. When they were were 'spilling the beans' through a ghost writer in the non-fiction market it all seemed fine if they were making sales beyond their outrageous advances.

Without naming names over here in the Aus market, there is one ex-celeb who is making some nice cash writing crime fiction - manages to get a lot of the 'right' type of interviews and television appearances too. I have no doubt this author works very hard to produce the books, and to be honest the quality isn't all that bad.

So, what's your thoughts on celebs in the fiction market?

Cheers,

JJ

Terie
10-20-2009, 02:55 PM
Without naming names over here in the Aus market, there is one ex-celeb who is making some nice cash writing crime fiction - manages to get a lot of the 'right' type of interviews and television appearances too. I have no doubt this author works very hard to produce the books, and to be honest the quality isn't all that bad.

So, what's your thoughts on celebs in the fiction market?

I wouldn't be surprised if they're still ghostwritten more often than not. Ghostwriting fiction isn't the norm for regular folks like us, but I'm pretty sure it happens with celebs. (For the right kind of money, and if I believed the story was good, I'd ghostwrite fiction for a celeb, myself! LOL!)

JJ Cooper
10-20-2009, 03:05 PM
Isn't that called 'collaboration' with fiction rather than ghostwriting?

JJ

Terie
10-20-2009, 03:08 PM
Isn't that called 'collaboration' with fiction rather than ghostwriting?

I'm not sure, but that might depend on whether the ghostwriter gets included in the byline. This is just my personal speculation, but to me, byline = collaboration, and no byline = ghostwriting.

KTC
10-20-2009, 03:21 PM
I only expect the best out of the books I read. I don't care if an actor or an unknown wrote it.

I absolutely love the two books that Ethan Hawke wrote---The Hottest State and Ash Wednesday. I bought the first one based on the back cover synopsis...read it and loved it. The second one...I watched for the release date and bought it in hardcover the day it came out, because I was a fan of his writing. If and when a third is written, I will buy it on its release date. Not because he's an actor. Because he's an amazing writer.

KTC
10-20-2009, 03:28 PM
So, what's your thoughts on celebs in the fiction market?


I know I already posted...but I wanted to respond to the question in a more universal way. It makes sense to me that celebs (who are usually celebs because of a creative bent, right) would often have writing desires. So, because of this, I would take each instance on a case by case basis. It just makes sense to me that actors would gravitate toward writing. Sometimes it's clearly a case of someone cashing in on their fame...but other times it's just another creative outlet that they are exploring. Case by case. I wouldn't want to use a broad brushstroke. If I did, I would have missed out on Hawke's work.


ETA: Would actors on an acting forum ask 'what do you think of this writer becoming an actor/actress/celeb?'

JJ Cooper
10-20-2009, 03:36 PM
It's gotta be good for the publisher when they discover a celeb who can write gripping and credible fiction.

We've a couple I know of over here who have left the small screen to concentrate on writing full time to very good results. Both Judy Nunn and Tristan Banicks were on the same Aus soapie before picking up the pen full time. And, making a good go of it. I've a feeling there will be plenty more who try in the future.

But, that example in the article is a shocker.

JJ

MattW
10-20-2009, 03:39 PM
I find it interesting that a celebrity I've never heard of has enough material to fill 3 autobiographies.

And, to be honest, if I was offered the chance to "collaborate" on a novel with a celebrity, I wouldn't so much mind the less notoriety for the larger payday.

Phaeal
10-20-2009, 04:04 PM
If the celebrity writes well enough on his or her own to get published, fine. If he or she is hiring a ghostwriter to cash in on celebrity without personal effort, then I think it sucks. I tend to be suspicious of "collaborations," also. I imagine most are just books that acknowledge the ghostwriter, rather than a real collaborative effort.

On the other hand, re collaborations, if the celebrity acknowledges a lack of writing skill or experience, hence the collaborator, I feel much less prickly about it.

seun
10-20-2009, 04:37 PM
I have no problem with famous people writing fiction if they're writing it themselves and it's not simply selling on the basis of their name. I do have a problem with the countless number of pointless wastes of space such as Jordan churning out autobios every other week.

But then I also have a jolly daydream in which Jordan explodes into flame and dies, leaving the world a better place.

Wayne K
10-20-2009, 04:38 PM
If the "collaborator" thinks they're going to get a fair share of the money or acknowledgment they've got another thing coming.

KTC
10-20-2009, 04:44 PM
But, Wayne...ghostwriting CAN be very lucrative. The acknowledgement? Not so much...but it could be a hefty contract, monetarily. It all depends.

Wayne K
10-20-2009, 04:47 PM
Celebrities will see their name as the selling point and want a bigger share.

KTC
10-20-2009, 06:02 PM
Yep. But that's not what I said. The ghost won't get the biggest share, but at times their share can be BIG.

Wayne K
10-20-2009, 06:05 PM
I don't think I'd do it. If the book sold oodles, I'd feel cheated.

icerose
10-20-2009, 06:15 PM
If the "collaborator" thinks they're going to get a fair share of the money or acknowledgment they've got another thing coming.

It's not about being fair, it's about a contract. Do you think script writers for example get the fair share of movie profits? Not even close. What about article writers?

It comes down to being a job. If a celeb offers a chunk of money and a contract, the writer decides whether or not it's worth it.

If the celebrities want to hire writers to do their work so they can get more fame and money, at least that means another real writer is getting paid.

If a celeb wants to pen a novel go them. As long as they earn their advances, it doesn't take my spot in fiction.

maestrowork
10-20-2009, 06:19 PM
If the ghostwriters start to demand 50% of royalties, maybe the celebrities will consider writing the books themselves and realize, "oh, this is harder than I thought."

Personally, I have no problem with celebrities writing fiction or anything. Steve Martin is a very good writer, so is Ethan Hawke. But they don't sell millions of copies, because they don't write "sensational" stuff.

As long as they actually WRITE the books.

Ghostwritten autobiographies are different -- the celebrities are selling their own life stories. The celebrity status is what intrigues people in the first place, and their fans want to know about their lives. That's fine. And if the celebrity wants someone else to write their life stories for them; it's cool. Ultimately, it's their stories no matter who wrote it.

But fiction is a whole different ballgame. It becomes simply "selling products" (such as celebrities putting their names on a jewelry or clothes line designed by other people).

Not that it hasn't been done already. Tom Clancy doesn't write his books anymore. It's a product line -- he has a factory of writers and he slaps his name on the cover. Hello, capitalism.

The problem I have with these other celebrities who write "hot" books -- but in fact, they have ghostwriters -- is that they're only in it for fame and fortune, and it is very disingenuous. Some of them don't even deny the fact that they didn't write the books. And the problem is, the general public doesn't care. They buy because "ooh, So-and-so's name is on the cover." Unfortunately, in a capitalist world, cash is king, and fame is queen. There's nothing we can do about it. So why fight it?

I, however, won't jump onto the bandwagon. America has a celebrity-obsessed culture. It's always so big that I don't need to contribute to that.

Jamesaritchie
10-20-2009, 06:23 PM
Isn't that called 'collaboration' with fiction rather than ghostwriting?

JJ

It's ghostwriting for fiction, if the celeb pretends to have written the book.

As for celeb books, I really like a fair number of celebrity novels.

This aside, I'm all for anything that puts a profit in the publisher's till. They need profit in order to offer advances and take chances on books by new writers. Celeb books go a long way in making this happen.

Misa Buckley
10-20-2009, 06:26 PM
Reading-wise, I'm with KTC - I'd take each book on its own merits, rather than worry about who wrote it.

Writing-wise - I for one wouldn't take a ghostwriting offer, not because of the pay but because you can't claim it on your writer's CV. I'd rather do unpaid work that I could claim (and I am doing) than well-paid work that I couldn't.

That position could change though.

MGraybosch
10-20-2009, 06:34 PM
So, what's your thoughts on celebs in the fiction market?

Cheers,

JJ

If they make enough money for the publishers, then the publishers might be more willing to give noncelebs a shot.

Phaeal
10-20-2009, 06:46 PM
As maestrowork says, there's a difference between fiction and nonfiction here. I don't have the same problem with ghostwritten or collaborated nonfiction that I have with ghostwritten or collaborated fiction.

Celebrities or experts might have nonfic stories to tell, autobiographical or otherwise, that they don't feel competent to write themselves. Good for them and good for writers that they don't have to. I would prefer that the "name" give the writer collaborator's credit, though, rather than leave the writer's name off the book entirely.

I prefer fiction to have the integrity of idea and execution coming from the same person*. As for an "author" who ponies up neither ideas nor execution, only a celeb name, that's an execrable notion to me.




*An exception would be the relatively rare writing team, where the partners are both writers.

katiemac
10-20-2009, 06:46 PM
I picked up a book last summer specifically because Hugh Laurie wrote it. The prose is sharp and clever, exactly the kind of writing I'd expect from him.

But otherwise I don't pay much attention to celebrity writers. If the book is there to extend that celebrity's brand, so be it, but like Jamesaritchie said, those sales put more money in the publisher's pocketbook and I can't complain about that.

Phaeal
10-20-2009, 06:49 PM
If they make enough money for the publishers, then the publishers might be more willing to give noncelebs a shot.

Or they might just contract with more celebs.

MGraybosch
10-20-2009, 06:50 PM
Or they might just contract with more celebs.

Shh! I'm trying not to be cynical this morning.

maestrowork
10-20-2009, 07:07 PM
I picked up a book last summer specifically because Hugh Laurie wrote it. The prose is sharp and clever, exactly the kind of writing I'd expect from him.

But you picked up the book because it was Hugh Laurie's.

What if you found out he didn't write the book. Some nameless writer actually did it for him for $20,000?

Would you still feel the same way about the book, even though you bought it because you thought he wrote it? Would you feel deceived?

And would you have bought it if you knew it was ghostwritten?


Like I said, I have no problems with celebrities actually writing and selling their books (e.g. I enjoyed Ethan Hawke's). I also have no problem with celebrities selling their life stories that are ghostwritten -- because their "life stories" are the selling point, not the writing. But I do have a problem with celebrity slapping their names on fiction that is written by someone else (especially uncredited). To me, that's deceit, and it's a symptom of this celebrity-obsessed world when nothing, including truth, matters as long as a well-known person's on the cover.

katiemac
10-20-2009, 07:29 PM
But you picked up the book because it was Hugh Laurie's.

What if you found out he didn't write the book. Some nameless writer actually did it for him for $20,000?

Would you still feel the same way about the book, even though you bought it because you thought he wrote it? Would you feel deceived?

And would you have bought it if you knew it was ghostwritten?

Well, with Hugh Laurie, he's always been a (script) writer in addition to being an actor. Of course he's more well-known for his acting, especially in the US. So I don't feel there are any straightforward answers to your questions. He's always been a writer, I knew that when I picked up the book, and I did that because I like his style. On the chance it is ghostwritten, props to the author because s/he nailed his voice.

I wouldn't, though, bother with a novel written by just any celebrity. For one, I just don't care. But If I think the person is capable of writing, and I think I'd like the style/content, then maybe I'd check it out.

maestrowork
10-20-2009, 07:31 PM
On the chance it is ghostwritten, props to the author because s/he nailed his voice.

So you wouldn't feel deceived?

I would.

katiemac
10-20-2009, 07:34 PM
So you wouldn't feel deceived?

I would.

Maybe. I don't know for sure, because this is hypothetical, and I have no reason to think it wasn't his writing. His is the first and only celebrity author I've read.

willietheshakes
10-20-2009, 07:40 PM
Without naming names over here in the Aus market, there is one ex-celeb who is making some nice cash writing crime fiction - manages to get a lot of the 'right' type of interviews and television appearances too. I have no doubt this author works very hard to produce the books, and to be honest the quality isn't all that bad.



TM?

The Lonely One
10-20-2009, 07:43 PM
Like I said, I have no problems with celebrities actually writing and selling their books (e.g. I enjoyed Ethan Hawke's). I also have no problem with celebrities selling their life stories that are ghostwritten -- because their "life stories" are the selling point, not the writing. But I do have a problem with celebrity slapping their names on fiction that is written by someone else (especially uncredited). To me, that's deceit, and it's a symptom of this celebrity-obsessed world when nothing, including truth, matters as long as a well-known person's on the cover.

Ah but what about the writer who accepted the large sum of money in exchange for his/her writing soul? I doubt it's something like Misery going on.

If writers take issue with ghost-written celeb fiction they should stand up and speak out, like you have here, and refuse to do such a thing themselves.

And if a celeb writes a book and gets published despite their own writing (in)ability, how is that different from any of the other not so great big name pop-fiction writers getting book deals? The books sell because of the name, thus houses have more money to spend on fiction they actually believe in.

Maybe I'm off in my reasoning but that's what I think from general observation.

Wayne K
10-20-2009, 07:56 PM
I would feel completely deceived and would want my money back. If it's a memoir or autobiography it's acceptable, but with fiction I'm assuming that the author actually wrote it.

katiemac
10-20-2009, 07:57 PM
Maybe I should rephrase my thoughts:

Hugh Laurie's book caught my eye precisely because it is his name on the cover. So first I picked it up to see if it was the same Hugh Laurie. When I realized it was, I bought it, because I think he's smart, witty and I like the other writing he's done (script). It did not seem to be a stretch that he could write a novel. And the style of the prose was exactly like I expected. I got what I wanted out of the book.

Would I have picked up the exact same book if it said, I don't know, Britney Spears? No, because I don't think she could have written that particular book.

If I saw Tina Fey's name on a novel, I'd buy that, too. I love her writing (again, scripts).

I guess what I'm saying is I don't see the difference between picking up a novel by a celebrity author who's proven to me I like his/her stuff, versus picking up the next Michael Chabon who has also proven his books are worth my time. But obviously the celebrities I'm referring to all have writing experience in some capacity, and I wouldn't doubt he/she has actually written the material. Whether these celebrities actually wrote it, again, my reaction would be based out of a hypothetical situation. But if I got what I wanted out of it (a Hugh Laurie or Tina Fey-style novel), then I couldn't be too upset about it as a reader. As a writer, maybe my reaction differs.

john barnes on toast
10-20-2009, 08:06 PM
Don't blame the celebs. Don't blame the ghost writers. Don't even blame the publishers.

Blame the morons that buy this shit.

Wayne K
10-20-2009, 08:11 PM
Maybe I should rephrase my thoughts:

Hugh Laurie's book caught my eye precisely because it is his name on the cover. So first I picked it up to see if it was the same Hugh Laurie. When I realized it was, I bought it, because I think he's smart, witty and I like the other writing he's done (script). It did not seem to be a stretch that he could write a novel. And the style of the prose was exactly like I expected. I got what I wanted out of the book.

Would I have picked up the exact same book if it said, I don't know, Britney Spears? No, because I don't think she could have written that particular book.

If I saw Tina Fey's name on a novel, I'd buy that, too. I love her writing (again, scripts).

I guess what I'm saying is I don't see the difference between picking up a novel by a celebrity author who's proven to me I like his/her stuff, versus picking up the next Michael Chabon who has also proven his books are worth my time. But obviously the celebrities I'm referring to all have writing experience in some capacity, and I wouldn't doubt he/she has actually written the material. Whether these celebrities actually wrote it, again, my reaction would be based out of a hypothetical situation. But if I got what I wanted out of it (a Hugh Laurie or Tina Fey-style novel), then I couldn't be too upset about it as a reader. As a writer, maybe my reaction differs.
I wasn't commenting on your post. I was being general. You do have me interested in Hugh Laurie now.

icerose
10-20-2009, 08:14 PM
So some of you would literally begrudge a writer making money on their craft because their name doesn't appear on the cover? That their writing suddenly has less merit because some celeb hired them instead?

Do you begrudge writers who use pen names the same way?

Like it or not celebs are going to be making money fame and glory outside of their namesake field. I don't see it as any excuse to hate fellow writers for making a living. A lot of my work is done for hire and with enough money offered I would relinquish the credit. Because at the end of the day I live in the real world and have a famliy to feed and cloth. Kudos to those who don't have those problems, but not all of us can turn down our noses at writing for a living.

Wayne K
10-20-2009, 08:17 PM
I don't begrudge the writer, I begrudge the celebrity.

maestrowork
10-20-2009, 08:19 PM
Maybe. I don't know for sure, because this is hypothetical, and I have no reason to think it wasn't his writing. His is the first and only celebrity author I've read.

Yes, it's hypothetical but I don't think it's difficult to imagine. I've never read a celebrity novel that was ghostwritten, but I could imagine if I expected a Hugh Laurie-written novel and found out it was actually written by Jane Jones, I would feel cheated. It would be like buying Nike and finding the shoes are actually designed and made by sweatshops at Ching-Hua Inc. in Shengzhen, China.

scarletpeaches
10-20-2009, 08:19 PM
Well ... The Daily Mail Headline reads 'Author Anger as Stars Stampede to Write a Novel Just Like Jordan' but there wasn't any real 'author anger' shown.There was a comment from one author expressing dismay or dislike. Anger? Not so much.
I am quite surprised at Jordan's numbers:I can't say I am. She's famous for...well, God knows what. But she's famous, so people buy her books. I read her third (!) autobiography earlier this year and it's a continuation of how many blokes she's shagged, apparently. I also read one of her novels - someone bought it for me, thanks mate - and it took me a fortnight to get through.

The ghost was mentioned on the copyright page and now has a career of her own writing equally trashy novels.
So, what's your thoughts on celebs in the fiction market?

Cheers,

JJI don't have a problem with it if the books are good and the celebrities actually do the writing. Getting a publishing deal because of your name rather than your talent? Not so enamoured of that.

I wouldn't immediately discount someone's books because "They're famous for something else so they must be rubbish." Being good (or at least famous) in one field doesn't stop you being good at something else (writing) after all.
I only expect the best out of the books I read. I don't care if an actor or an unknown wrote it.

I absolutely love the two books that Ethan Hawke wrote---The Hottest State and Ash Wednesday. I bought the first one based on the back cover synopsis...read it and loved it. The second one...I watched for the release date and bought it in hardcover the day it came out, because I was a fan of his writing. If and when a third is written, I will buy it on its release date. Not because he's an actor. Because he's an amazing writer.What he said.
It's gotta be good for the publisher when they discover a celeb who can write gripping and credible fiction...But, that example in the article is a shocker.

JJDoesn't often happen, though. As you said, the example given was shocking.

All the cliches. Looking in a mirror, describing her face...blech.
I find it interesting that a celebrity I've never heard of has enough material to fill 3 autobiographies.She doesn't. Believe me. They're all about the traffic up her ladygarden.
And, to be honest, if I was offered the chance to "collaborate" on a novel with a celebrity, I wouldn't so much mind the less notoriety for the larger payday.Hell no. No way would I be up for that. I despise the concept of ghost writers and if I read a book, later discovering it was ghosted, I feel deceived. If I know beforehand, then fair enough, but to put one name on a book cover when it was written by someone else is lying.
I have no problem with famous people writing fiction if they're writing it themselves and it's not simply selling on the basis of their name. I do have a problem with the countless number of pointless wastes of space such as Jordan churning out autobios every other week.

But then I also have a jolly daydream in which Jordan explodes into flame and dies, leaving the world a better place.I love you so hard.

If they make enough money for the publishers, then the publishers might be more willing to give noncelebs a shot.Wishful thinking. Would be good if it happened but I don't believe it would. It just means they finance more books by non-celebs.

I would feel completely deceived and would want my money back. If it's a memoir or autobiography it's acceptable, but with fiction I'm assuming that the author actually wrote it.Ditto.

MGraybosch
10-20-2009, 08:22 PM
She's famous for...well, God knows what.

Isn't Katie Price/Jordan famous for her tits, to put it crudely?

maestrowork
10-20-2009, 08:23 PM
Ah but what about the writer who accepted the large sum of money in exchange for his/her writing soul? I doubt it's something like Misery going on.


I'm talking about the celebrities, not the writers, who exploit their fame and other people's talent for their own gain. They're making millions with their names but they're paying writers only a fraction of that. Then they say, "I wrote this."

If you're that writer, that's fine. It's your business, whichever way you want to make money. But the celebrity is the one deceiving the public. You'd just be the hire.

Like Wayne said, I'm not begrudging the writers. I'm begrudging the celebrity who is basically saying, "I wrote this" when he/she didn't.

Like I said before, when the writers get 50% of the royalties and advances, maybe the celebrities will think twice. Otherwise, it is rather an exploitation, if you think about it.

To me, ghostwriting is fine for nonfiction/biography, etc. but when that crosses to fiction, I draw the line.

scarletpeaches
10-20-2009, 08:24 PM
Isn't Katie Price/Jordan famous for her tits, to put it crudely?Peter Andre's entitled to 50% of her assets so at least he'll get a space hopper out of the divorce.

icerose
10-20-2009, 08:25 PM
Like Wayne said, I'm not begrudging the writers. I'm begrudging the celebrity who is basically saying, "I wrote this" when he/she didn't.

Like I said before, when the writers get 50% of the royalties and advances, maybe the celebrities will think twice. Otherwise, it is rather an exploitation, if you think about it.

Fair enough. I was getting a little worried there. ;)

MGraybosch
10-20-2009, 08:27 PM
Peter Andre's entitled to 50% of her assets so at least he'll get a space hopper out of the divorce.

You're talking about her money and property, right? 'Cos I'd say that those silicone-inflated tits of hers are liabilities, not assets.

\likes 'em natural

katiemac
10-20-2009, 08:28 PM
It would be like buying Nike and finding the shoes are actually designed and made by sweatshops at Ching-Hua Inc.

Not necessarily. It could still be a very good book. And in the case I found out a writer I liked (be it a celebrity or otherwise) used a ghostwriter, I'd start looking for more books by that ghostwriter. And it's unlikely I'd stop buying books with the original author's name on the cover, as long as it's the same ghostwriter I know I like. And of course I'd know who the real author is.

maestrowork
10-20-2009, 08:32 PM
Not necessarily. It could still be a very good book. And in the case I found out a writer I liked (be it a celebrity or otherwise) used a ghostwriter, I'd start looking for more books by that ghostwriter. And it's unlikely I'd stop buying books with the original author's name on the cover, as long as it's the same ghostwriter I know I like. And of course I'd know who the real author is.

No one said those shoes made by Ching-Hua Inc. were not good. But they weren't Nikes, which you expected when you paid $87 for them.

I think that's the problem: we don't take "truth" as seriously as we should. It's okay if the celebrity says, "I wrote it" when they didn't as long as the book is good. Then there's really no credibility. It would be like Millie Vanilli all over again -- so why were we so mad that they didn't sing their own songs, if we'd be okay if Hugh Laurie didn't write "his" own novels? What does it say about us as consumers? And what does it say about us as writers?

katiemac
10-20-2009, 08:34 PM
No one said those shoes made by Ching-Hua Inc. were not good. But they weren't Nikes, which you expected when you paid $87 for them.

Then it that analogy you're paying for the name. I only ever pay for the story, celebrity-branded or not. I realize most people who pay for celebrity-written books are buying it because of the name, but then I don't think they'd care if they found out the celebrity didn't write it. They know Britney Spears didn't hand-make that perfume she's branded, but you either buy it because she put her name on it or because you like the scent.


I think that's the problem: we don't take "truth" as seriously as we should. It's okay if the celebrity says, "I wrote it" when they didn't as long as the book is good. Then there's really no credibility. It would be like Millie Vanilli all over again -- so why were we so mad that they didn't sing their own songs, if we'd be okay if Hugh Laurie didn't write "his" own novels? What does it say about us as consumers? And what does it say about us as writers?

I guess I don't account truth into it at all. Maybe that makes me a cynic. It's a brand, period. Michael Chabon is a brand. JK Rowling is a brand. Britney Spears is a brand. If I buy a book with a celebrity name on the cover, it's an extension of that brand but maybe it's still a good extension. But like I said before, I'm not buying into the brand because it's there. I'm buying the brand because it has proven to me before (via scripts and other writing) that there is a good chance I'll like it. If I buy a novel from a debut author because it looks interesting, I'm checking out a new brand.

seun
10-20-2009, 10:02 PM
Slightly off topic...Hugh Laurie's book is great. :D

KTC
10-20-2009, 10:08 PM
I don't begrudge the writer, I begrudge the celebrity.

but they're paying for a fucking service and they're getting said fucking service!


what is wrong with that? it's how the economy works!

I have ghost written articles before. I do not have a problem with it. I cash the cheques.

katiemac
10-20-2009, 10:12 PM
Musing out loud some more, since Ray brought up "truth." In my head, it's more like trust. If I like a brand, I trust the brand will continue to put out good products, especially if I have proof of the brand's quality in the past (whether that be an author writing good books, or a celebrity writing good scripts so I think they can transition into novel writing).

It's essentially like an endorsement. If a celebrity's name is on the product, they're endorsing that the content good. Maybe it would be better if ghostwritten novels worked more like endorsements for their content as opposed to the celebrity taking credit for the "writing." But how likely is a consumer to buy a book that a celebrity claims is good (unless you are Oprah)? I don't know. It's interesting.

maestrowork
10-20-2009, 11:41 PM
I guess I don't account truth into it at all. Maybe that makes me a cynic. It's a brand, period. Michael Chabon is a brand. JK Rowling is a brand. Britney Spears is a brand.


But it's not just a brand or a product of toilet paper. We're talking intellectual property, something that is a creative product -- we're not even talking about biography, which by default belongs to the celebrity no matter who wrote it, since the story belongs to him/her.

But would it still be Britney Spear's album if she didn't sing the songs at all? Why were we mad at Milli Vanilli when we found out they didn't sing their songs? What if JK Rowling never wrote the HP books?

To me, the whole thing about fiction writing isn't just to stamp your name on the cover and call it a product.

At least Tom Clancy has the courtesy to put the actual writer's name on the cover (under his huge name). He didn't conceal the fact that he didn't write those books. It's still branding, but at least it's honest: he did NOT write it and he tells you.

When a person puts out a book that says, TITLE by AuthorX, there is a trust issue, that you're indeed buying something -- CONTENT, to be exact, and not the paper and ink -- that AuthorX claims to have done. Or a song that was actually performed by the musician. Or a painting that was actually painted by the painter. There's something called authenticity. You don't pay $100,000 for a painting that you THINK Andy Warhol painted.

To me, intellectual properties and content are different from, say, a piece of jewelry or a dress that bears the celebrity's logo. I don't know how else to explain except that I require the truth: if you didn't write it, don't say you did.

The Lonely One
10-20-2009, 11:43 PM
So some of you would literally begrudge a writer making money on their craft because their name doesn't appear on the cover? That their writing suddenly has less merit because some celeb hired them instead?

Nope. I have no problem with it. But my point was the writers don't either.


Do you begrudge writers who use pen names the same way? Think the dynamic is a little different here--pen name still goes with your own face. Ghost writing goes with the other guy's face. But again, nothing wrong with either. Do what you wish as a writer, neither is wrong.


Like it or not celebs are going to be making money fame and glory outside of their namesake field. I don't see it as any excuse to hate fellow writers for making a living. A lot of my work is done for hire and with enough money offered I would relinquish the credit. Because at the end of the day I live in the real world and have a famliy to feed and cloth. Kudos to those who don't have those problems, but not all of us can turn down our noses at writing for a living.

I agree with you. IMO if writers are getting payed crap for ghostwriting novels for celebs, that's an issue that needs to get worked out with writer's guilds or those signing contracts or anyone else looking out for writers' best interests.

I'm going to give every professional writer the benefit of the doubt that if they get screwed it's their own fault for agreeing to do the work.

But if everyone's happy with the arrangement then I'm happy.

The Lonely One
10-20-2009, 11:48 PM
wtf I can't read page 3

nevermind. fixed it by posting again.

maestrowork
10-20-2009, 11:49 PM
It's essentially like an endorsement. If a celebrity's name is on the product, they're endorsing that the content good. Maybe it would be better if ghostwritten novels worked more like endorsements for their content as opposed to the celebrity taking credit for the "writing." But how likely is a consumer to buy a book that a celebrity claims is good (unless you are Oprah)? I don't know. It's interesting.

Endorsement is a different thing. Michael Phelps might endorse a product, but he's not going to say, "I designed these Speedos" if he didn't. I don't care if Tom Clancy branded his lines of military thrillers, but at least he has the honesty of putting the actual writer's name on the cover. Martha Stewart didn't say she designed the linen and dinnerware -- she puts her name on them, and that's all good.

maestrowork
10-20-2009, 11:52 PM
But if everyone's happy with the arrangement then I'm happy.

You're leaving the readers out of the equation, though. It's one thing if the readers know the person didn't write the book, but go ahead and buy/read it anyway. It's another to deceive the readers by saying "NOVEL X written by Pamela Anderson." Pam and the ghostwriter (and the publisher) may be happy with the arrangement, but it doesn't make it honest.

It's not as bad as selling snake oil, but it seems like we are on the cusp of saying, honesty doesn't matter as long as we make a buck.

Wayne K
10-20-2009, 11:59 PM
I think it stinks that people with actual talent will be getting next to nothing for their work while people who put their name on it will get richer. It's like having Rembrandt paint a portrait and having a celebrity sign it. They know writers have no money, so they'll take advantage of it. It's exploitative.

JoNightshade
10-21-2009, 12:06 AM
Following the phenomenal success of a series by Jordan, other stars approached to write novels include Martine McCutcheon, Sharon Osbourne, Ulrika Jonsson, Coleen Nolan and Fern Britton.

...Who?

The Lonely One
10-21-2009, 12:07 AM
You're leaving the readers out of the equation, though. It's one thing if the readers know the person didn't write the book, but go ahead and buy/read it anyway. It's another to deceive the readers by saying "NOVEL X written by Pamela Anderson." Pam and the ghostwriter (and the publisher) may be happy with the arrangement, but it doesn't make it honest.

It's not as bad as selling snake oil, but it seems like we are on the cusp of saying, honesty doesn't matter as long as we make a buck.

I see what you're saying now.

Yeah, I understand there's a level of deception going on with that sort of arrangement. That might put off readers, if they found out about it.

They'd all have to appear an Oprah to apologize, and God knows we aren't trying to send her more guests.

Honestly I'd rather read the work of actual celebrities, even if they were honest about hiring people. Much more entertaining, anyway. Especially Pam Anderson's work!

aadams73
10-21-2009, 12:32 AM
I don't care. I don't give a rat's ass. Some people like that stuff, some don't. If a celebrity novel makes loads of money, great. It's all good for business. And it means people are reading.


So you wouldn't feel deceived?

I would.

Plenty of books are ghostwritten. It happens. Chances are you'll (that's a general you, not you specifically, Ray. :D ) never know the difference.

If you enjoy the book, does it matter what name is on the cover? Really?

maestrowork
10-21-2009, 12:38 AM
If you enjoy the book, does it matter what name is on the cover? Really?

Apparently the publishers and fans do. Or else they would have paid $1M for the celebrity to put his/her name on the book. The writer sure didn't get that money.

So you wouldn't feel cheated if you bought a Rolling Stones or Dave Matthews album and found out it was only a cover band? As long as you don't know the difference, that's okay?

jodiodi
10-21-2009, 12:40 AM
Frankly, I've never heard of the "celebreties" in the OP. I didn't know any of the others mentioned had written anything either. I read based on the story. I don't really care who wrote it. As long as it's interesting to me, I'll read it.

aruna
10-21-2009, 12:41 AM
I'm not into celebrities and I have no idea who Hugh Laurie is...

Anyway, here's an interview with the ghost writer for Naomi Campbell's novel Swan, Caroline Upcher

http://juliabuckley.blogspot.com/2006/07/interview-caroline-upcherhope-mcintyre.html

As you mentioned earlier, you ghosted a novel for Naomi Campbell, who is quite notorious these days for allegedly abusing people and flinging phones at them. Did she ever throw a phone at you?
She was actually incredibly nice to me--she was always wonderful when I was dealing with her.

Ghosting a novel has to be a peculiar experience--what is it like to have to take on someone else's identity? Is it irksome to receive no credit for a book over which you've labored?
I don't mind at all that her name was on it, because that was something that was agreed upon up front. It was a mystery novel; it needed to be about the modeling world, and it was.

Did it do well?
It did remarkably well. It was up to number four on the English charts, although it didn't sell well in America. It was sold in twenty-two countries around the world; I still have all these foreign translations in my basement.

In another interview I read a few years back, Caroline said that Naomi had no input whatsoever in the book, and never even read it afterwards.

maestrowork
10-21-2009, 12:41 AM
Frankly, I've never heard of the "celebreties" in the OP. I didn't know any of the others mentioned had written anything either. I read based on the story. I don't really care who wrote it. As long as it's interesting to me, I'll read it.

Kind of a bleak view for us writers -- we're just some nameless, interchangeable hire hands. Why even bother to have the author's name on the cover, then, if it doesn't matter? Let's all just write for $$ and have the publisher slap a celebrity's name on the cover. Good business for everyone, right?

icerose
10-21-2009, 12:47 AM
Kind of a bleak view for us writers -- we're just some nameless, interchangeable hire hands. Why even bother to have the author's name on the cover, then, if it doesn't matter? Let's all just write for $$ and have the publisher slap a celebrity's name on the cover. Good business for everyone, right?

I get your point Ray but when I buy a book I buy it for the story. Nothing else matters. I only feel cheated when the book sucks.

And I could really care less about celebs.

scarletpeaches
10-21-2009, 12:48 AM
I feel cheated if someone says they did something, but didn't really.

In other words - when they lie.

maestrowork
10-21-2009, 12:49 AM
I get your point Ray but when I buy a book I buy it for the story. Nothing else matters. I only feel cheated when the book sucks.

If it's good, do you give kudos to the author as well? If so, to whom do you give them? The celebrity author, or the actual writer?

For example, in Naomi Campbell/Caroline Upcher's case, who gets the credit for a job well done?

Or does it not matter?

ChaosTitan
10-21-2009, 12:51 AM
If you enjoy the book, does it matter what name is on the cover? Really?

I dunno. As a pre-teen I was devastated when I found out Francine Pascal didn't actually write every Sweet Vally High, Twins and Kids book put out every month. ;)

jodiodi
10-21-2009, 12:53 AM
Kind of a bleak view for us writers -- we're just some nameless, interchangeable hire hands. Why even bother to have the author's name on the cover, then, if it doesn't matter? Let's all just write for $$ and have the publisher slap a celebrity's name on the cover. Good business for everyone, right?

I don't choose my reading material based on the name on the book. If it's a book I'd never read to begin with, slapping a celebrity name on it isn't going to make me want to read it.

If it's an author whose work I know or has been recommended based on my preferences, I'll look it over. If it appeals to me, I'll read it. If not, I won't. There are plenty of authors whose works I've enjoyed, but have written some books that didn't interest me, so I didn't read those particular books.

The story is what I care about. Putting a celebrity's name on it has no bearing on whether or not I'll read a book.

ETA: Icerose said it better than I could.

scarletpeaches
10-21-2009, 12:54 AM
You must be the only one who thinks that way then, because celebrity names on covers do make the books sell. That's why they do it.

icerose
10-21-2009, 12:55 AM
There really is no winning side to this. It's going to happen whether we bitch or not. If you think it's ghost written and that bothers you don't buy it.

I buy books for their stories, if I love it I recommend it based on the title of the book and the author's name on the cover.

You can't make people be honest and you can't shame them into not making money off their fame.

maestrowork
10-21-2009, 12:56 AM
I can only speak for myself.

I would be pissed if I found out the Beatles album I bought wasn't even performed by the Beatles.

Or that Andy Warhol painting I paid $200,000 for wasn't painted by him.

Or Stephen Spielberg didn't even touch the movie he supposedly "directed."

Or Kate Beckinsale wasn't in the movie starring Kate Beckinsale.

Or the novel written by Naomi Campbell wasn't actually written by her -- not even one word or an idea came from her.

Maybe I'm just weird that way.

icerose
10-21-2009, 12:56 AM
Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Babysitter's Club and many more were filled in with ghost writers. Do I feel cheated? No, I don't. I don't care. I buy books to be entertained, if they do their job, I got my money's worth. But then again I don't buy books for a name.

maestrowork
10-21-2009, 12:58 AM
If it's an author whose work I know or has been recommended based on my preferences...

But what if the author didn't write the book at all? Is it still his work that you sought out?

I'm honestly astounded by this "who cares" mentality.

jodiodi
10-21-2009, 12:59 AM
If the story sucks and doesn't interest me, I won't buy it no matter whose name is on the cover.

scarletpeaches
10-21-2009, 12:59 AM
I'm astounded by all these people claiming not to buy books for their name.

Yes, you do. Whether it be a series name, character name or author name - hell, even a brand name.

Otherwise books would have no covers or titles.

If the story was all that mattered.

maestrowork
10-21-2009, 01:00 AM
Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Babysitter's Club and many more were filled in with ghost writers. Do I feel cheated? No, I don't. I don't care. I buy books to be entertained, if they do their job, I got my money's worth. But then again I don't buy books for a name.

So it's okay if you stand in line for the new JK Rowling's Harry Potter book, #12, even though Rowling didn't even lift a finger, let alone write it?

OK.

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:03 AM
I think it stinks that people with actual talent will be getting next to nothing for their work while people who put their name on it will get richer. It's like having Rembrandt paint a portrait and having a celebrity sign it. They know writers have no money, so they'll take advantage of it. It's exploitative.

No it's not. I think you're missing something here. Or...maybe we just have to agree to disagree. If the writer is okay taking on the 'JOB' and getting paid for doing the 'JOB'...there is NO exploitation. Said writer might be making a lot more than they would make writing something under their own name. They are contracted to do a job. That is NOT exploitation. It's a hell of a far cry from exploitation. Sometimes ghostwriting gigs are more lucrative than non-ghostwriting gigs.

maestrowork
10-21-2009, 01:03 AM
If the story sucks and doesn't interest me, I won't buy it no matter whose name is on the cover.

You are missing the point.

The point is you're completely disregarding the accountability, or who the work belongs to, who is responsible for it, where credit is due, etc. As writers, I am surprised by the lack of pride in what we do. It's not about being famous; it's about giving credit when the credit is due.

Naomi Campbell didn't write that novel, so why should she give given credit for the work?

You may not care. But a lot of people do, and a lot of people picked up that book because Naomi Campbell's name on the cover. They deserve to know that Naomi Campbell didn't write a single word.

maestrowork
10-21-2009, 01:05 AM
No it's not. I think you're missing something here. Or...maybe we just have to agree to disagree. If the writer is okay taking on the 'JOB' and getting paid for doing the 'JOB'...there is NO exploitation. Said writer might be making a lot more than they would make writing something under their own name. They are contracted to do a job. That is NOT exploitation. It's a hell of a far cry from exploitation. Sometimes ghostwriting gigs are more lucrative than non-ghostwriting gigs.

Would you be okay to have Pamela Anderson put her name on the cover of one of your novels (and take all the credits for it) when it gets published, as long as you get $10,000 for it?


That said, I have no problem that any writer decides to make that kind of arrangement. We all write for various reasons.

Still, I think it's a bit of an insult when we say, "we don't really care who wrote this as long as it's a good book." I think somewhere a writer just dies of lack of appreciation.

jodiodi
10-21-2009, 01:06 AM
Story trumps name every time.

Famous names can write crappy stories that I wouldn't read for free, just like anonymous writers can.

When I look for something to read, I go by genre, then scan the titles. If something catches my eye, I read the blurb. If I like it, I'll read it. I don't care if it was written by Stephen King, or Plato, or JKRowling, or Agatha Christie. If I'm not interested in the story, I won't buy it or read it.

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:07 AM
I'm on a different wavelength here. Clearly.

I hate that Patterson has a committee writing his books...but I see this as different than the whole ghostwriting thing...I guess because he's a WRITER. That's the part that doesn't sit well with me in his case. So, though I've trashed him a thousand times on AW I have no problem with ghostwriting. Yeah...sounds like a contradiction...but not in my head.

aruna
10-21-2009, 01:08 AM
(apologies to all those who read my rant on "meat" in my first post... it was a paste for another thread. I htought I was pasting the link!)

scarletpeaches
10-21-2009, 01:08 AM
I'm on a different wavelength here. Clearly.

I hate that Patterson has a committee writing his books...but I see this as different than the whole ghostwriting thing...I guess because he's a WRITER. That's the part that doesn't sit well with me in his case. So, though I've trashed him a thousand times on AW I have no problem with ghostwriting. Yeah...sounds like a contradiction...but not in my head.I'm completely the opposite.

I read JP's books. At least he's honest about using a stable of writers.

Ghostwriting is - and I know I'll offend plenty of people by saying this, but to be honest I don't care - a lie in print. And I despise liars and those who collude in lies.

ChaosTitan
10-21-2009, 01:09 AM
The point is you're completely disregarding the accountability, or who the work belongs to, who is responsible for it, where credit is due, etc. As writers, I am surprised by the lack of pride in what we do. It's not about being famous; it's about giving credit when the credit is due.

Naomi Campbell didn't write that novel, so why should she give given credit for the work?

So is it just celebrities using ghostwriters that you have a problem with? Or ghostwriters in general?

jodiodi
10-21-2009, 01:10 AM
You are missing the point.

The point is you're completely disregarding the accountability, or who the work belongs to, who is responsible for it, where credit is due, etc. As writers, I am surprised by the lack of pride in what we do. It's not about being famous; it's about giving credit when the credit is due.

Naomi Campbell didn't write that novel, so why should she give given credit for the work?

You may not care. But a lot of people do, and a lot of people picked up that book because Naomi Campbell's name on the cover. They deserve to know that Naomi Campbell didn't write a single word.


If the author who actually wrote the book has no problem with Naomi's name on it, why should I?

We all know Naomi can't put two words together in a sentence. No one honestly believed she wrote anything except maybe signing her name on a check to the actual writer.

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:10 AM
Would you be okay to have Pamela Anderson put her name on the cover of one of your novels (and take all the credits for it) when it gets published, as long as you get $10,000 for it?

The thing is, Ray, that I wouldn't do that. The writers who do do that, though, have a choice. They are doing this to fulfill a market. They are entering into a contract to write on Pamela's behalf...in exchange for a cheque. I see NOTHING wrong with this. It's supply and demand. There isn't really an ethical dilemma here for me. The writer is doing a job for the Pam, and the Pam's lawyer's are saying, "Why...thank you for fulfilling your pre-agreed upon contract requirements. Here's this lovely cheque for services rendered, me lady!" What is wrong with that? Nothing. Money flows toward the writer. If a writer is willing to take on a ghostwriting job for money, well then terrific. They are getting paid for doing what they love...and they are doing it for MONEY to make a living. For me, there is no argument.

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:11 AM
(apologies to all those who read my rant on "meat" in my first post... it was a paste for another thread. I htought I was pasting the link!)

That is too funny for words!!!!!!!!!!!

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:13 AM
Ghostwriting is - and I know I'll offend plenty of people by saying this, but to be honest I don't care - a lie in print. And I despise liars and those who collude in lies.


Then, hate me biotch. I have done it on a very small scale...not with books...but still. I have done it. So, you got to do what you got to do...hate me. (-;

scarletpeaches
10-21-2009, 01:13 AM
I hate you so much I can't even look at you n'mo.

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:16 AM
I hate you so much I can't even look at you n'mo.

And so the circle of life continues.

Red-Green
10-21-2009, 01:16 AM
I just wonder, would you feel deeply betrayed if you found out some famous actress/model had used an anonymous starving writer as body double for a photoshoot/movie? Is it the anonymity (not getting credit) or is it that it's writing? Would you think, "Damn that famous person, passing that poor writer's boobs off as her own!" Or would you just think, "Wonder how much the writer got paid to flash her boobs?" Just curious.

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:18 AM
What a conundrum. I wouldn't care. I would just 'read' the boobs.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 01:19 AM
I have no problem with a writer doing a ghost writing job, it's the potential for exploitation that will become of this that I hate. An agent or publisher sees a good ms, and says to themselves "This would sell with so-and-so's name on it" and then low balls the writer. There are people who need money bad enough to do it.

I wouldn't, but some people would.

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:21 AM
I have no problem with a writer doing a ghost writing job, it's the potential for exploitation that will become of this that I hate. An agent or publisher sees a good ms, and says to themselves "This would sell with so-and-so's name on it" and then low balls the writer. There are people who need money bad enough to do it.

I wouldn't, but some people would.

I can't see that happening, Wayne. I think the writer would come into it AFTER it's decided that they were going to do the book. It would probably be written on Spec. They wouldn't see a book come across their desk and say, "Hey...let's see if this schlep would sell us the manuscript so we can pass it off as Phyllis Diller's work!"

DWSTXS
10-21-2009, 01:22 AM
I find it interesting that a celebrity I've never heard of has enough material to fill 3 autobiographies.

And, to be honest, if I was offered the chance to "collaborate" on a novel with a celebrity, I wouldn't so much mind the less notoriety for the larger payday.

Bob Dylan is getting paid handsomely to do just that. Chronicles was a hit with the critics, although I'm not sure if it was a best-seller. I loved it.
He may be one of the few celebrities who can fill 3 books about his life. He is currently working on the 2nd installment.

As far as fiction, by celebrities, one of the best selling celebrity authors ever, is Jimmy Buffet.
I haven't read any of his novels, but I've been told that he really is a good writer.

scarletpeaches
10-21-2009, 01:23 AM
I bet Kevin's just talking shite because he's employed someone to be his ghostposter. That's not really him at all; it's some schmo he pays a pittance to sign in to AW and abuse us.

icerose
10-21-2009, 01:23 AM
I'm astounded by all these people claiming not to buy books for their name.

Yes, you do. Whether it be a series name, character name or author name - hell, even a brand name.

Otherwise books would have no covers or titles.

If the story was all that mattered.

Let's see, I never buy brand things, too expensive. Authors frequently disappoint me because their voice and such don't always match up to my expectations. Series are hit and miss. So I guess I'm just weird.


So it's okay if you stand in line for the new JK Rowling's Harry Potter book, #12, even though Rowling didn't even lift a finger, let alone write it?

OK.

Happens all the time. I grew up reading Nancy Drew and what not. Most of thsoe were ghost written. I didn't find out until I was older. Star wars, Star Trek. The original writer didn't do all those.

aadams73
10-21-2009, 01:26 AM
Apparently the publishers and fans do. Or else they would have paid $1M for the celebrity to put his/her name on the book. The writer sure didn't get that money.


Yeah, but that money means a debut author might get a deal because the publisher has a bit of spare change rattling around in their pockets.



So you wouldn't feel cheated if you bought a Rolling Stones or Dave Matthews album and found out it was only a cover band? As long as you don't know the difference, that's okay?

The Stones are burnouts and Dave Matthews produces pre-chewed pudding music. I wouldn't buy either. But I get your point. And no, I wouldn't care. I'm just not fussed with the name on the label so long as the story/music is good.

There are more than a few ghostwriters around here. Try not to piss on the way they make their money.

icerose
10-21-2009, 01:36 AM
Pen name is a lie in print.

Memoirs are lies in print.

Ghostwriters are lies in print.

Celebs are lies in print.

Fiction is a lie.

None of these things exist in all reality. Celebs you see, they're creations, it's a brand, a face. How many Celebs even kept their real names?

john barnes on toast
10-21-2009, 01:40 AM
If you willingly buy a novel by Jordan, you should feel cheated; cheated by God for giving you no fucking brain.

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:43 AM
I bet Kevin's just talking shite because he's employed someone to be his ghostposter. That's not really him at all; it's some schmo he pays a pittance to sign in to AW and abuse us.

I hate that you know Kevin so well and know that this isn't really him posting. That rubs me (and him) the wrong way.

thothguard51
10-21-2009, 01:53 AM
I can only speak for myself.

I would be pissed if I found out ...

Kate Beckinsale wasn't in the movie starring Kate Beckinsale.

Maybe I'm just weird that way.

Lots of movies show celebrities nude scenes but use stand ins at the critical moment or in close-ups. Does this fact take away from the movie, the actress's ability, or the directors version?

If a contract specifies no credit for the ghostwriting, the writer can say no or take the money and run, while building their own partfolio. The information usely comes out sooner or later anyway...

As to the reading public, who knows if Shakesphere really wrote all his own work? Its debated, but his work still lives on...

Nick Anthony

katiemac
10-21-2009, 02:16 AM
The point is you're completely disregarding the accountability, or who the work belongs to, who is responsible for it, where credit is due, etc. As writers, I am surprised by the lack of pride in what we do. It's not about being famous; it's about giving credit when the credit is due.

I don't think many publishers hide the fact the celebrity books are ghostwritten. I also think most people are aware of this and know they aren't getting the celebrity's words. So as far as accountability goes, yes, the writer might not be the one on the book tour but don't most people know the celebrity didn't write it? If the ghostwriter is cool with being anonymous, as part of the deal, I'm not seeing the issue. Lots of authors prefer to be anonymous.

Like I said, I pay for the story and not the name. But I will buy that name again after it's proven itself.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 02:22 AM
I read for the writing, I'm crazy like that. So if I read Sharon Osbourne's book and love the writing, how exactly do I follow an author who can't take any credit for the book. <-a question, not a debate. Is there a way to find out?

katiemac
10-21-2009, 02:26 AM
I read for the writing, I'm crazy like that. So if I read Sharon Osbourne's book and love the writing, how exactly do I follow an author who can't take any credit for the book. <-a question, not a debate. Is there a way to find out?

Her name is Pepsy Dening (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/nov/22/ghostwriters-celebrity-jordan). I Googled "Sharon Osbourne ghostwriter."

In the article linked, she says:


The books that I help write belong to the person named on the cover. I never think of them as "my" books, and it doesn't bother me in the least that my name - if it is there at all - is merely a nod somewhere among the acknowledgments. Rather, I see my role as that of midwife, bringing into the world something that "exists" already, but is simply waiting to be delivered.

Note that she seems to be referring to autobiographies.

Jamesaritchie
10-21-2009, 02:56 AM
Yes, it's hypothetical but I don't think it's difficult to imagine. I've never read a celebrity novel that was ghostwritten, but I could imagine if I expected a Hugh Laurie-written novel and found out it was actually written by Jane Jones, I would feel cheated. It would be like buying Nike and finding the shoes are actually designed and made by sweatshops at Ching-Hua Inc. in Shengzhen, China.


Sometimes it never comes out that the book was ghostwritten. The celebrity not only won't tell, but swears in interviews that he/she wrote the book, and even goes into detail about writing hours, etc. The publisher won't tell of the celeb wants to pretend he did write the book. The ghostwriter can't tell because it's in the contract, and revealing that you were the ghostwriter can have dire, and extremely expensive, consequences.

Other clebs take the opposite approach. When someone asked William Shatner if he actually wrote the Tec War novels, he said no, and when asked who did write them, he said he had no clue.

But when you read any book by a celeb, you're taking a huge chance that it's a ghostwritten book.

Jamesaritchie
10-21-2009, 03:12 AM
I'm talking about the celebrities, not the writers, who exploit their fame and other people's talent for their own gain. They're making millions with their names but they're paying writers only a fraction of that. Then they say, "I wrote this."

If you're that writer, that's fine. It's your business, whichever way you want to make money. But the celebrity is the one deceiving the public. You'd just be the hire.

Like Wayne said, I'm not begrudging the writers. I'm begrudging the celebrity who is basically saying, "I wrote this" when he/she didn't.

Like I said before, when the writers get 50% of the royalties and advances, maybe the celebrities will think twice. Otherwise, it is rather an exploitation, if you think about it.

To me, ghostwriting is fine for nonfiction/biography, etc. but when that crosses to fiction, I draw the line.

I think you're greatly underestimating how much a ghostwriter can earn. Sometimes the deal is either half the advance and no royalties, or no part of the advance and half the royalties. The celebrity doesn't pay the writer, the publisher does, and it's often the publisher who comes up with the idea of using this celeb or that one in the first place. But a ghostwriter can make a LOT of money.

Very often, the celeb is just sitting there minding his or her own business, and one of two things happens. The celeb's agent/publicist calls a publisher, and says, "This is one hot name right now. Why not put out some books with this name on the cover."

Or someone in marketing at a publisher calls the writer's agent/publicist and says, "Your client is hot right now, and we want some books with her name on the cover. Don't worry, she doesn't have to do anything except a little publicity tour when the books are released. We'll hire a writer, come up with a plot, handle all the details."

"We think she can make a few million on the deal. Waddayasay?"

But the celebrity often has noting to do with the deal, and usually nothing at all to do with how much money the writer makes.

icerose
10-21-2009, 03:38 AM
ZOMG! You mean that speech the president gave wasn't written by him?! You mean he only delivered it? You mean he didn't put any effort into it yet he spoke it like he did? I feel so cheated!!! Next thing you're going to say is that desk reporter on CNN didn't write their own report!

Quite honestly if you look, there are people who work behind the scenes without much credit if any ALL THE TIME. Stuntmen, body doubles, speech writers, broadcast writers, *gasp* ghost writers.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 04:26 AM
Sometimes it never comes out that the book was ghostwritten. The celebrity not only won't tell, but swears in interviews that he/she wrote the book, and even goes into detail about writing hours, etc. The publisher won't tell of the celeb wants to pretend he did write the book. The ghostwriter can't tell because it's in the contract, and revealing that you were the ghostwriter can have dire, and extremely expensive, consequences.
.
I don't know what the law is about this kind of thing, but it sounds a lot like fraud to me. At the very least they're being really shitty to their fans.

The Lonely One
10-21-2009, 04:46 AM
To me, (this is a general response, not to anyone in particular) I don't care about the writers. They're not being victimized. They're agreeing to the lie. The celebs are also agreeing to the lie. Neither one is a worse person than the other on that basis alone, one just happens to be rich and famous, the other willing to utilize that to their own financial gain.

I don't think it's a noble, meager thing, like they're just blue-collar people trying to feed their families shinnin' shoes. I think that's a crock. You choose your own path in life, you choose the contracts you sign. If you have a problem with the meager wages or shitty celebrities or lack of recognition why not take your abilities elsewhere?

As for readers, well, that's on them for believing celebrities are telling them the truth to begin with. I don't like being lied to either but I'm pretty careful who I trust.

Trust strangers at your own peril, but don't bitch to me about it when they lie.

JJ Cooper
10-21-2009, 05:03 AM
I understand ghost writing in the non-fiction market. Someone has a story to tell that requires a little help to get it on paper. Contract is signed, credit or not, and the book hits the shelves.

But, I don't get ghost writing for fiction without credit. Even if the ghost writer is a genius and writes a great novel, there is little credibility with the work in my opinion by placing the name of a celeb on the cover and that person then claiming it as their own.

I know there is a lot of writers who launch their careers through ghost writing, but I assume most started out in the non-fiction market then moved to fiction under their own name.

It's got me wondering if publishers struggling to keep mid-list authors on the books will start asking their clients to ghost write a novel for a celeb - maybe it's already happening. And, I don't blame any writer for going down this path - cash is cash after all.

JJ

BenPanced
10-21-2009, 05:04 AM
Turns out William Shatner's "collaborator" was actually the ghost for the TekWar series, even though Shat insisted for the longest time it wasn't so.

Still thought the series was absolute garbage, regardless of who the "real" author was.

KTC
10-21-2009, 05:22 AM
I don't know what the law is about this kind of thing, but it sounds a lot like fraud to me. At the very least they're being really shitty to their fans.

IT'S BUSINESS. 101.

katiemac
10-21-2009, 05:34 AM
But, I don't get ghost writing for fiction without credit. Even if the ghost writer is a genius and writes a great novel, there is little credibility with the work in my opinion by placing the name of a celeb on the cover and that person then claiming it as their own.

There are two kind of celebrity novels of which I'm aware. One (although I guess we'll never know for sure), the celebrity actually wrote the novel. From what I've seen of these types, and again, what I know isn't the end-all, the novel itself has little to do with his or her celebrity persona. It's a novel, like any other writer can produce.

The novels I know that are ghostwritten are essentially autobiography-turned-fiction. Lauren Conrad, who starred on a "reality" show, has a YA novel coming out about a girl who becomes a reality star. Pamela Anderson and Jenna Jameson (?) both "wrote" novels about porn stars. To this end, it makes more sense their names are on the covers. It's loosely based on their lives.

But a ghostwritten novel that has nothing to do with the celebrity's celebrity persona? I guess I don't see the selling point. If it was a good enough novel that the ghostwriter could have sold it as his/her own book, then they should have done it that way, I guess. But if the celebrity is the inspiration, a truer tie-in to the existing celebrity brand, then that's where the industry is saying the celebrity's name on the cover is "justified."

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 06:06 AM
ETA: This is aimed at the industry, not any particular person.

Call it what you may, but to say "I wrote this" when you didn't is a lie. You can justify it whatever way you want it's still a goddamn lie. There should be some standard, some measure of truth that authors should be held to. If you lie to make money, you're no better than the people who make up memoirs. If you don't care about the truth because money justifies telling lies then don't judge other people who do the same.

After all the shit I've been put through about the truth the truth the truth, to be told that lying is perfectly fine after all makes me want to spit.

Ghostwriting is fine with me. But for someone to go on a tour lying through their teeth and everyone saying "Meh" disheartens me to say the least.

And stop acting like there's some kind of nobility to this profession if it's the norm.

icerose
10-21-2009, 06:22 AM
Darling, I tell lies for a living, I'm a writer.

KTC
10-21-2009, 06:34 AM
Ghostwriting is a business, Wayne. You don't have to like it. There's no need to look for either nobility or shame in it. Writer takes on a job. Writer gets paid for said job.

You write memoir. What you've been told about memoir it true. Especially in today's world...lies in memoir is becoming more and more unacceptable. As so it should.

Ghostwriting is not memoir writing. It's not about telling the truth. It's about taking on a writing job and fulfilling that job to the dictates of the contract entered into by both parties. Ghostwriting is not evil. It's not a disgrace. It's not immoral. It's not ignoble.

Your hostility seems misguided at best.

katiemac
10-21-2009, 06:36 AM
There should be some standard, some measure of truth that authors should be held to. If you lie to make money, you're no better than the people who make up memoirs.

I asked myself earlier why I was annoyed with James Frey but apparently not all that miffed about celebrity authors. And what it came down to again, for me, was the story. In a perfect world Frey would sell his "memoir" as a novel and it's all good. It's fiction. But trying to sell fiction as non-fiction, in an attempt to make the story more interesting and sensational, well, that doesn't work for me.

But if it's a celebrity author, and we're talking fiction, then at the end of the day, the story is what it is. It doesn't matter whose name is on the cover. The celebrity is lying about her life in that sense ("I'm a writer"), making her life more interesting and sensational. I don't give a crap about a celebrity's life, I know she didn't write the book, so I guess I'm not offended.

To the ghostwriter it's just another pen name. Is the pen name now wrong because the name belongs to a real person? What about the examples, as others said earlier, like Carolyn Keene? She never existed, but a gang of writers wrote the Nancy Drew mysteries under that name. Why is it different if the money goes to the guy who invented the character who is using a bunch of writers, instead of a celebrity using one writer?

Or how about when the publisher hires an actor to go on the book tour and signings and pretends that she's the author, when really it was just a pen name for a bunch of ghostwriters? This happens a lot.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 06:37 AM
I didn't say any of that. I said to go around saying you wrote a book when you didn't is wrong. It's a lie and no matter how much money is involved, it's still a lie.

KTC
10-21-2009, 06:43 AM
I didn't say any of that. I said to go around saying you wrote a book when you didn't is wrong. It's a lie and no matter how much money is involved, it's still a lie.

They paid for the right to say it. They paid a ghostwriter to write a book for them. That's what ghostwriting is. They write as the person who is paying them to write (Or rather...as the person they are being paid to write as--as it is not always the person who pays them). I think you know what ghostwriting is...your problem is some big moral dilemma you have against it. In which case, you're wasting your time. It's a business...a pretty big one. Just ignore it if you wish...but I see it pointless to cast dispersions on it. These writers make their living doing this. I bet their extremely happy that the market exists. They do their best work, they get paid...at the end of the day, when you're trying to make a living, that's all that fucking matters. Moral high-grounds bore me.

virtue_summer
10-21-2009, 06:55 AM
I don't mind if a celebrity gets their novels published, if they can write. Or, if they use a ghostwriter, then they darn well better have that in there somewhere. I don't care if it says "ghostwritten by anonymous" but I think they should acknowledge that they didn't write the book. I mean yes the president has speech writers and yes actors have body doubles, but we know that. It's not a secret. It's not lied about. On the other hand if a book says it is by the celebrity (or anyone) when it's not, then that's wrong. It's a lie and a fraud on the readers.

katiemac
10-21-2009, 07:14 AM
I mean yes the president has speech writers and yes actors have body doubles, but we know that. It's not a secret. It's not lied about. On the other hand if a book says it is by the celebrity (or anyone) when it's not, then that's wrong. It's a lie and a fraud on the readers.

I really thought most people realize most celebrity books are ghostwritten, despite what it says on the cover. Isn't that just as common knowledge as actors using stunt doubles and the president using speech writers? Are the majority of readers actually being "fooled"?

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 07:21 AM
If you mean when an author says "I wrote this" and the publisher says "Yes, he wrote this" and the person who actually wrote it doesn't contradict it, so I believe what they're saying, yes. I'm fooled. How stupid of me.

katiemac
10-21-2009, 07:32 AM
If you mean when an author says "I wrote this" and the publisher says "Yes, he wrote this" and the person who actually wrote it doesn't contradict it, so I believe what they're saying, yes. I'm fooled. How stupid of me.

Actually I was more thinking of readers seeing Britney Spears' name on a book while on display in a store. Is the average person likely to believe Britney really wrote that book? I wouldn't. But I didn't second guess when I saw Hugh Laurie's name, because of his writing background. Maybe someone who saw his book thinks it's ghostwritten for the same reason I think Britney's would be ghostwritten. (Note, I have no idea if Britney has a book.)

Maybe I should watch more talk shows to hear these celebrity authors claim they wrote the novel when it's known to be ghostwritten. I haven't yet had the pleasure.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 07:35 AM
I'm going to ask someone who knows about this because I think you guys have it wrong. I think it's fine to have someone ghostwrite something for you, but there has to be some kind of ethical violation to lie and say you wrote it when you didn't. I don't believe that it's allowed, and I don't believe that it's the norm. It would hurt the whole industry to allow that.

katiemac
10-21-2009, 07:42 AM
I'm going to ask someone who knows about this because I think you guys have it wrong. I think it's fine to have someone ghostwrite something for you, but there has to be some kind of ethical violation to lie and say you wrote it when you didn't. I don't believe that it's allowed, and I don't believe that it's the norm. It would hurt the whole industry to allow that.

I see what you're saying. That was my next question. How many celebrity authors actually claim they wrote the book when they didn't? I think I may have seen one celebrity in an interview (don't know who) and they talked about the content but they did not talk at all about the writing process. So it would have skirted the issue. I agree, I think that's more common? But maybe there is some violation in actually voicing otherwise.

It'd be a shame if a celebrity is truly talented, crosses over and writes a novel but nobody believes her.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 07:47 AM
I have the ear of a few people who would know, one being an agent and a lawyer. She'll know for sure. Rather than argue something I'm not sure about, I'll get the facts first.

aruna
10-21-2009, 11:48 AM
To the ghostwriter it's just another pen name. Is the pen name now wrong because the name belongs to a real person? .

That's how I feel about it. Let me translate this into my own situation:

I have three unpublished novels I have given up on. They are just lying around in my hard disc.
Right now, I need money. I want to pay off my mortgage and buy some land in India for my retirement.
If some publisher offered me a lot of money for any one of those mss in retrun for publishing them under a celebrity's name, I'd certainly go for it and I wouldn't care.

I'd even be willing to spend a few months writing a whole new novel to go out under that celeb's name, for the right price.

The thing is, I've never been much concerned with the kudos that come with being a successful writer. I'm happy with anonymity. If it's a really good book and becomes succesful, even with somebody else's name on the cover, I'd be happy to have written such a well-loved book but I wouldn't like to play the "famous author" role in the least.

The only caveat I have is that I am really, really biased against empty-headed celebrities. It would make me cringe to have Paris Hilton's name on a book I wrote. But, say, Meryl Streep? Barack Obama? I'd be OK with that.

Just give me the money. A great advance, or 50% of the royalties. I'm happy in the shadows.

As for the lie: that's the celebrity's problem, not mine.

The Lonely One
10-21-2009, 11:58 AM
Personally, I wouldn't write without a byline. I was pissed when a paper we shared stories with called me "contributing writer" rather than by my name. I did all the work for the article.

I don't write stories for other people (you know what I mean...), but that's just me personally. Maybe it's vanity but I want my name on my stuff.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 12:33 PM
From what I'm reading online ghost writing is a debate. Some say it's unethical and some say it's not. Me,(as I've said) I don't have a problem with it. Most people seem to give some kind of credit to a contributing writer, but that I've covered--I don't have a problem with.

Even if someone says nothing, I don't have a problem with it. But when someone lies to the readers, it's fraud. Simple.



Fraud:
noun

1. deceit; trickery; cheating
2. Law intentional deception to cause a person to give up property or some lawful right
3. something said or done to deceive; trick; artifice
4. a person who deceives or who is not what he or she pretends to be; impostor; cheat

http://definitions.uslegal.com/f/fraud/


Fraud is generally defined in the law as an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage. Fraud may also be made by an omission or purposeful failure to state material facts, which nondisclosure makes other statements misleading.

The damages or property is the money people pay for books because they are lied to. I know, it's not a lot of money, but it is legally damage.

I'm interested to see what the lawyer has to say about this. If I am wrong, I'll be more than happy to come right here and admit that I am wrong.

KTC
10-21-2009, 01:28 PM
To say you have no problem with ghostwriting, but a problem with the celeb putting their name on it and calling it theirs is a contradiction. If they have a book ghostwritten for them---THEY DO NOT NEED TO SAY THAT PERSON WROTE IT FOR THEM. The ghost 'becomes' them while writing the book. Then, poof, they disappear with their cheque. Then celeb (or whoever) puts their name on the book. That's the deal. You either have a problem with the WHOLE thing, or with none of it. Talk to your lawyer and your agent. If they tell you otherwise, they are WRONG.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 01:36 PM
Once again I DIDN'T SAY THAT. I said I have a problem with people saying they wrote a book they didn't. Going on tour telling people all the late night hours at the typewriter and all that shit. It's a lie and it's fraud. You can't buy the right to tell deliberate lies to the public.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 02:12 PM
Sometimes it never comes out that the book was ghostwritten. The celebrity not only won't tell, but swears in interviews that he/she wrote the book, and even goes into detail about writing hours, etc. The publisher won't tell of the celeb wants to pretend he did write the book. The ghostwriter can't tell because it's in the contract, and revealing that you were the ghostwriter can have dire, and extremely expensive, consequences.
.
This is the post I was responding to.

KTC
10-21-2009, 02:18 PM
Once again I DIDN'T SAY THAT. I said I have a problem with people saying they wrote a book they didn't. Going on tour telling people all the late night hours at the typewriter and all that shit. It's a lie and it's fraud. You can't buy the right to tell deliberate lies to the public.

Read my post, Wayne. I said that the celeb has every right to put their name on the book, because that's the service they (or somebody) paid for. You may think it corrupt, immoral or fraud...but they CAN say they wrote the book if they have it ghostwritten. Read my post...I was debating the whole going on tour and saying they wrote it bit...they CAN say they wrote the book. The ghostwriter becomes them. and then vanishes, you might say like a ghost. Like they were never there. Therefore, the celeb 'wrote' the book.

KTC
10-21-2009, 02:20 PM
This is the post I was responding to.

Yep. I know what you were responding to. I was debating the exact thing. So obviously you read my post wrong. The celeb CAN and DOES say they wrote the book. It's called GHOSTWRITING.

JJ Cooper
10-21-2009, 03:06 PM
I kinda wish my teachers accepted ghostwriting as a professional service for students when I was at school.

JJ

KTC
10-21-2009, 03:29 PM
apples and oranges. when it's mandated that you write your own work, THEN it's wrong.

Wayne K
10-21-2009, 03:38 PM
You have your opinion and I have mine. Neither of us is going to convince the other, so I'm done with this discussion.

mathewferguson
10-21-2009, 03:40 PM
I've done ghostwriting and it is terrible soul-destroying work. The two major projects I worked on are still unpublished and will remain forever so. One was because the guy realised that a book would destroy all reason for people to go to his website (that had been my first question to him on day one). The other was another businessman who it turns out knew just enough to fill about three A4 pages.

The worst project though was a ghostwritten article where I was also responsible for sending it to the magazine and ensuring the art was all good, etc. The art director read the article and then proceeded to tell me how Guy with His Name on It was so clever and such a great writer and blah blah and where does he get this innovative ideas and so on. It was me! My brief had been: write something cool for this magazine. No guidelines. I was gritting my teeth and couldn't say anything. Then out came the magazine with his name on it. Horrible.

I could see writing a biography that is pretending to be autobiography but it takes a large chunk of cash to get over not having your name on it and you can never talk about it.

KTC
10-21-2009, 03:42 PM
You have your opinion and I have mine. Neither of us is going to convince the other, so I'm done with this discussion.

fine. but mine is not an opinion.

KTC
10-21-2009, 03:43 PM
I could see writing a biography that is pretending to be autobiography but it takes a large chunk of cash to get over not having your name on it and you can never talk about it.

This is a personal vanity issue. Not everybody would feel this way.

JJ Cooper
10-21-2009, 03:44 PM
apples and oranges. when it's mandated that you write your own work, THEN it's wrong.

Both are fruit.

I'd suggest the majority of members here are aware that Celebs don't often pen their own books. But, we are just a small sample of the book-buying public. I'll admit that I had no idea what a ghostwriter was until a couple of years ago.

Up until the point when I ventured into writing I'd never read the inside fine print of the book where it may mention a collaboration. I simply looked at the name on the cover. I'm guessing that's why Patterson, Clancy and Cussler have their names in bigger fonts. It's a name that sells the book and I'm willing to suggest that the majority of readers who buy that book in good faith expect the name on the cover to have written the book. And, most will read to the end and judge that book by the name on the cover. If it's shite and fiction there's a good chance the next book will be written by different ghostwriter. Fans will just think they've improved their writing for book two.

JJ

icerose
10-21-2009, 05:28 PM
I have the ear of a few people who would know, one being an agent and a lawyer. She'll know for sure. Rather than argue something I'm not sure about, I'll get the facts first.

Definition of a ghost writer.


A ghostwriter is a professional writer (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Writer) who is paid to write books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person. Celebrities (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Celebrity), executives, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Autobiography), magazine articles, or other written material. In music, ghostwriters are used in film score composition, as well as in pop music such as Top 40 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Top_40), country (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Country_music), and hip-hop (http://www.absolutewrite.com/wiki/Hip-hop). The ghostwriter is sometimes acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services.

Please note the underlined and bolded definition.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostwriter

And here's from a publisher. http://www.griffithghostwriting.com/ghostwritingbook.pdf

Covers all about ghostwriting. Now the writer of the book in his opinion feels that they should acknowledge the fact it was ghost written and not claim they did it in public. But he states it is his opinion and there isn't anything illegal, yet, about doing otherwise.

MarkEsq
10-21-2009, 05:36 PM
I had an interesting experience along these lines.

I had an idea for a book, the bio of someone who wasn't famous but had an amazingly interesting life and was involved in many, many events you all would know about and be interested in. I spent hours and hours interviewing him, I wrote four chapters and a proposal. I managed to get a top NY agent on board, who said before we went further I'd need a collaboration agreement with this guy.

He was cool with that - we'd agreed to split all monies 50/50.

And then he decided he wanted his name as the author. He'd never written anything before, was not going to write ONE word of this book, and had NO name recognition.

My agent told me it wouldn't be worth my time to do all the work and get minimal recognition, so the project died and my heart got all sad for a while about other people's greed.

So what I learned is this: be sure at the outside the parameters are clear, that each party's expectations are on paper and defined. For me, I wasn't prepared to do all the work and get none of the credit - I'm proud of what I do and don't feel ashamed of that.

On the fiction front, I understand that a celeb has a legal right to claim a ghost-written novel as his own, if such a deal has been reached with a writer and publisher, but I think it's a fraud on the public if he claims to have written something he didn't, no different than James Frey's fiction masquerading as fact.

Perks
10-21-2009, 05:39 PM
I picked up a book last summer specifically because Hugh Laurie wrote it. The prose is sharp and clever, exactly the kind of writing I'd expect from him.

The Gunseller is one of my favorite books. I wish he'd get another one out, but I suppose he's been busy.

Phaeal
10-21-2009, 05:55 PM
I just wonder, would you feel deeply betrayed if you found out some famous actress/model had used an anonymous starving writer as body double for a photoshoot/movie? Is it the anonymity (not getting credit) or is it that it's writing? Would you think, "Damn that famous person, passing that poor writer's boobs off as her own!" Or would you just think, "Wonder how much the writer got paid to flash her boobs?" Just curious.

I'd rather see the actress's real boobs or the actor's real butt. So what if they're "imperfect"? Integrity.

Not that I need to see anyone's boobs or butts. Um, unless it has artistic merit.

Phaeal
10-21-2009, 05:58 PM
I bet Kevin's just talking shite because he's employed someone to be his ghostposter. That's not really him at all; it's some schmo he pays a pittance to sign in to AW and abuse us.

Ah ha! This explains much...

;)

I'm too poor to hire a ghostposter. I hear they get big bucks.

Phaeal
10-21-2009, 06:12 PM
The only caveat I have is that I am really, really biased against empty-headed celebrities. It would make me cringe to have Paris Hilton's name on a book I wrote. But, say, Meryl Streep? Barack Obama? I'd be OK with that.



I bet Meryl Streep or Barack Obama would write their own novels, or refrain from pretending to. You're more likely, alas, to have to ghost for the airheads.

bearilou
10-21-2009, 06:12 PM
I kind of get where a lot of the arguments are coming from on the board. We're all writers here and that's the ground we're writing from.

This is me, speaking as a reader, which I was, long before I decided I would try to write. Understand this goes for celebrities claiming to write fiction and not celebrity biographies.


If the author who actually wrote the book has no problem with Naomi's name on it, why should I?

We all know Naomi can't put two words together in a sentence. No one honestly believed she wrote anything except maybe signing her name on a check to the actual writer.

and


Like I said, I pay for the story and not the name. But I will buy that name again after it's proven itself.

But I do care and I didn't know who Naomi Campbell was before this thread.

*in the bookstore with no clue who Naomi Campbell is* "Oh look! A novel written by a Naomi Campbell." *reads* "This is fantastic! I look forward to her next book."

And so it goes, every time Naomi Campbell writes a book, I eagerly go out to read it because I love her writing style. "Man, she's good!" *buys more books by Naomi Campbell*

"Except this last book. She seems to be slipping here. Her voice is off. Maybe she's just getting lazy." *investigates and discovers Naomi Campbel never wrote the books to begin with*

*devastation*

I was buying books by Naomi Campbell believing she was a good writer when all along someone else was writing the books. I wasn't a Naomi Campbell fan. I was a fan of the writer whom never got credit for writing it. Sure they got paid and I'm glad for them. But I was a fan of their writing, not Naomi's and that was not what I was promised when I pickd up that book that had her name sprayed all over the cover with no mention of the true writer behind it.

I was lied to. Yes. I enjoyed the stories. But I was lied to. The creative mind behind the books was not Naomi's and that was what was promised to me when only her name appeared on the book cover.


I read for the writing, I'm crazy like that. So if I read Sharon Osbourne's book and love the writing, how exactly do I follow an author who can't take any credit for the book. <-a question, not a debate. Is there a way to find out?

Exactly what I'd like to know. I want to support writers which means I will buy their books. I'd rather buy on their name than on a celebrity's name who didn't even have anything to do with the writing.


I'm glad, thrilled, that some writers are making huge chunks of cash ghostwriting. We all would like to be able to make a living off doing what we love. But it's still disingenuous for someone to put their name on a novel and claim they wrote it when in fact, they did not.


I love a good story myself and find that the author name usually doesn't influence a first time buy. But if that writing is good enough to impress me, then that name does begin to influence my purchases.

Jim Butcher is a good example. I love his Dresden Files. I just recently discovered he wrote high fantasy. Now, based on his name and what I've come to appreciate about his writing, I will go out and get these books.

IF I find out that he didn't write them like he claims? I will be sorely disappointed and most probably won't buy any more of his books.

You can argue all you like about the true definition as a ghostwriter. I, as a reader, feel cheated if one of my favorite celebrities (or writers) claims to be a writer, takes credit for being a writer, discusses their 'newest project' they are writing...and discover they didn't set down one word to the page but paid someone else to do it so they could take the credit (legal and binding in their contract or not).

Toothpaste
10-21-2009, 06:32 PM
Lots of people in this thread think that it's obvious that celebs have ghostwriters, but they are wrong. Most readers do not know about ghostwriters. Most people out there truly think Lauren Conrad for example wrote her novel. This bugs me. It bugs me when I read reviews that say, "Lauren Conrad has managed to write a tale of. . . " when we know the reviewers know she didn't write a word of it. What also bugs me is such celebs are giving the impression that it's easy to write a novel, that anyone can do it. The celeb writers can't answer any questions as to how one writes a book, the most they can say is how they recorded some thoughts on a recorder. Many of these celebs have extremely busy lives, the idea that they can also write a novel makes their fans think that it must not take that much time, or worse, that this total airhead is a genius to be able to ALSO write a book. It can even frustrate some fans who might think, "How does she manage her time? Look how busy she is and everything she can do, why can't I?" (you see the same thing with new mothers witnessing celebs and their kids, forgetting that they have nannies and personal trainers etc etc.)

I don't actually mind celeb books, they make money and allow publishers to take on works by unknown authors or more risky stuff. But the concept of ghostwriting is so odd to me, especially fiction ghostwriting. I get that an author is being paid, and KTC calls it vanity that some ghostwriters may feel bad in not getting the credit, after all they were paid for their work. But isn't it sad that authors need to sacrifice credit and reputation because they need the cash, because some celeb, who doesn't need any more money felt they needed one more venue to become yet more famous?

At any rate, I'm not quite aghast by it as some, but as a very naive person once upon a time, I can tell you that when I learned about ghostwriters for fiction I was truly shocked. I couldn't understand how it was allowed, and why someone who did absolutely nothing got all the credit, got to go to the signings, and got the bulk of the income. It's odd to me.

KTC
10-21-2009, 07:00 PM
The vanity comment was meant to be more about at an article level. I think I quoted the wrong piece of Matthew's post. I just naturally assume that anybody writing a book length manuscript as a ghostwriter does not have a problem with not seeing their name in the credits. If they're writing at this level, they know the ins and outs. They get what is entailed in ghostwriting.

On an article level...some may not sit well with not getting a credit. My suggestion to them would be DON'T DO IT. There are all kinds of writing gigs out there where the writer doesn't get a by-line. Not just ghostwriting. All the writing I do is hobby writing. Even my freelancing. A lot of the advertorials and the like that I take on--I pour my heart into them. Some can be as big as a full page article in a newspaper, or a company profile on the back of a magazine...writers never get credit for stuff like this. But they get a paycheque. Working as a ghostwriter is the same, only someone else actually takes credit for writing what you wrote. You still get the paycheque, you don't get the credit.

I guess anybody can disagree with the ethics of this sort of thing. But it doesn't stop the fact that it is a lucratic market that brings in a lot of money for writers. Writers who do this willingly. And I am, quite frankly, shocked that ghostwriting is not well known. I don't remember a time when I didn't know what ghostwriting meant...or that it was out there, happening.

Darzian
10-21-2009, 07:51 PM
I can only speak for myself.

I would be pissed if I found out the Beatles album I bought wasn't even performed by the Beatles.

Or that Andy Warhol painting I paid $200,000 for wasn't painted by him.

Or Stephen Spielberg didn't even touch the movie he supposedly "directed."

Or Kate Beckinsale wasn't in the movie starring Kate Beckinsale.

Or the novel written by Naomi Campbell wasn't actually written by her -- not even one word or an idea came from her.



Agreed.




I'm honestly astounded by this "who cares" mentality.

Agreed.


I'm astounded by all these people claiming not to buy books for their name.

Agreed.

Disclaimer: The use of the name "Rowling" in the following example is for illustration purposes only. I am in no way implying that Rowling has books ghost written for her.

1) I am the reader.
2) I go into a bookstore and buy a book ( A FICTION book). Suppose that the cover says that Rowling is the author. Since I'm delighted with the Harry Potter books, I proceed to buy the book.
3) Two possibilities here. Either I enjoy the book or I do not.
4) I find out that the book was not written by Rowling but by a ghostwriter.

The ghostwriter got paid for a business transaction. Done deal. I do not care about the ghostwriter (except in considering the ghostwriter's writing ability).

5) I have now realized that Rowling LIED TO ME by stating that she wrote the book.

Simple. It's a lie. Fraud.

So people don't look at authors before buying a book? That may be so but if it were, then celebrity books should not necessarily sell at higher rates than average books.

In the ghost writing business, I have no issue whatsoever with the ghostwriter because they were paid for their work. However, I'm being deceived by the fake 'writer.' If I were a fan and I walk upto them at a signing and ask about how they get ideas, how they formed ideas for said book, etc etc....(or any other typical fan questions) and if the fake writer replies then I'm being deliberately lied to and misled.

I'm astonished that people don't mind others lying to them.

KTC
10-21-2009, 07:57 PM
Well...you guys should really consider banding together and wiping out this travesty. This entire market. Close it down. I mean, really. How dare they.

Darzian
10-21-2009, 08:01 PM
Well...you guys should really consider banding together and wiping out this travesty. This entire market. Close it down. I mean, really. How dare they.

Not necessarily. All that is needed is a statement that the book was ghostwritten. The actual writer need not even be mentioned. A statement that the book was not written by the 'author' on the cover is, basically, the truth.


I'm just discussing morals here.

bearilou
10-21-2009, 08:06 PM
Well...you guys should really consider banding together and wiping out this travesty. This entire market. Close it down. I mean, really. How dare they.

I'm not sure I follow. Those of us who take issue with the writer who is trading on their name being upfront as to whether they actually wrote this book of fiction or not, are not suggesting that the contract between big name and ghostwriting stop.

We just would like the 'writer' to be honest that they didn't write it and it's not their words we're reading. Will the market crumble if they exercised a little of integrity? I don't see it happening.

We just don't like being lied to, that's all.

Darzian
10-21-2009, 08:11 PM
We just would like the 'writer' to be honest that they didn't write it and it's not their words we're reading. Will the market crumble if they exercised a little of integrity? I don't see it happening.



Actually, I think that the market would substantially drop. The vast majority of readers are likely unaware of the existence of ghostwriters and do not even consider that someone other than said celebrity wrote the book. If readers were to discover this, then they may not be as interested in buying the book.

But it's false marketing! If I buy a manuscript from a writer, paying him for the work, and say that I wrote it, how is that considered fair to the reader?

If I were to say that I did not actually write it but that I am branding my name on it, then it would be fair to the reader(IMHO).

Again, we are talking about writing fiction to which the fake author contributed little, if anything.

ChaosTitan
10-21-2009, 08:12 PM
Not necessarily. All that is needed is a statement that the book was ghostwritten. The actual writer need not even be mentioned. A statement that the book was not written by the 'author' on the cover is, basically, the truth.


But then the entire POINT of using a ghostwriter becomes moot. There is no...well, point in advertising:

SUPERSTAR, by super-model Elle MacPherson, on sale now! Ghostwritten by Janey Lake.

The entire reason for using this ghostwriter is to sell the book as a book by Elle MacPherson, not by Janey Lake. By stating it's ghostwritten, you might as well just let Janey Lake publish it under her own name. So Kevin's statement stands.

Darzian
10-21-2009, 08:15 PM
But then the entire POINT of using a ghostwriter becomes moot. There is no...well, point in advertising:

SUPERSTAR, by super-model Elle MacPherson, on sale now! Ghostwritten by Janey Lake.

The entire reason for using this ghostwriter is to sell the book as a book by Elle MacPherson, not by Janey Lake. By stating it's ghostwritten, you might as well just let Janey Lake publish it under her own name. So Kevin's statement stands.

Coloring mine.

And that is the snag. The book is being falsely advertised.

As I said earlier, I do agree that doing such a thing would drastically affect the market for ghostwritten books.

Darzian
10-21-2009, 08:19 PM
I don't want to praise someone for something they did not do.

bearilou
10-21-2009, 08:25 PM
Actually, I think that the market would substantially drop. The vast majority of readers are likely unaware of the existence of ghostwriters and do not even consider that someone other than said celebrity wrote the book. If readers were to discover this, then they may not be as interested in buying the book.

Hmmm...good point. But have Clancy or Patterson suffered? I'd be curious. I knew Clancy used a stable of writers but wasn't aware Patterson did. I don't read very much of either of them so I don't know.

editing in: I realize they aren't in the same category as ghostwriters so my example may not really work.

katiemac
10-21-2009, 08:26 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by scarletpeaches http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4169430#post4169430)
I'm astounded by all these people claiming not to buy books for their name.

Agreed.

Disclaimer: The use of the name "Rowling" in the following example is for illustration purposes only. I am in no way implying that Rowling has books ghost written for her.

1) I am the reader.
2) I go into a bookstore and buy a book ( A FICTION book). Suppose that the cover says that Rowling is the author. Since I'm delighted with the Harry Potter books, I proceed to buy the book.
3) Two possibilities here. Either I enjoy the book or I do not.
4) I find out that the book was not written by Rowling but by a ghostwriter.

The ghostwriter got paid for a business transaction. Done deal. I do not care about the ghostwriter (except in considering the ghostwriter's writing ability).

5) I have now realized that Rowling LIED TO ME by stating that she wrote the book.

Simple. It's a lie. Fraud.

I'm one who said I don't by books for the name, I buy it for the story. Let me clarify. I do not buy for the name at first. "Augusta Robsinson" doesn't mean anything to me if I see that name in the store. But if I read the back blurb and I like the sound of the story, I will buy it. If I read it and like the story, I will go back and see if Augusta Robinson has more books. I will read those blurbs, too. If I see more where I like the sound of the story, I will buy them. In that sense, after I've decided this author is worth it, I will look for more by the same name. If I've read two or three or four by Robinson and loved them all, sometimes I will stop reading the blurbs.

Same goes for someone famous, like King. I've heard of the name. I have heard good things--good buzz is "proof" there's a chance I might like the book. Again, I check out the story like I did above.

But I still won't buy a book unless there's a chance the story will be good. It's not about the name. I don't buy Hemingway books so that when people come to my house they will see his books strategically placed around and think I am awesome. But if I like the author, then yes, I agree the name is worth something. But that doesn't always mean the name is real. (Like Patterson. Some are strictly brands.)

In your example, I'm really not trying to be nitpicky but I am truly interested in the response: What if Rowling had never written any of the Potter books? It was a ghostwriter all along, and this ghostwriter has now written a new book under her name for her in the style of Harry Potter. A "brand" extension. Does that make a difference?

Or is the example Rowling, who in fact did write all of the Potters, now has a ghostwriter working for her and pushing out more books?

aruna
10-21-2009, 08:29 PM
I can only speak for myself.

I would be pissed if I found out the Beatles album I bought wasn't even performed by the Beatles.

Or that Andy Warhol painting I paid $200,000 for wasn't painted by him.

Or Stephen Spielberg didn't even touch the movie he supposedly "directed."

Or Kate Beckinsale wasn't in the movie starring Kate Beckinsale.

Or the novel written by Naomi Campbell wasn't actually written by her -- not even one word or an idea came from her.

Maybe I'm just weird that way.

Ray -- there's a difference between the four first examples you listed, and the last.

With the Beatles, Warhol, Spielberg etc, they are famous for the things you bought their work for. You know they are good at those things, and that's why you're pissed off when you get a fake.

With Naomi Campbell, it's difference. She's not famous as a writer. If you buy a book with her name on the cover, you know that she's a famous model, not a famous writer. You're really only buying her name, and if you're silly enough to do so, and to believe it's her, then -- well, you're silly. But you haven't been seriously defrauded.

In other words: it's perfectly reasonable to demand that a Beatles is really sung by the Beatles. It'd be silly (or naive) to expect that a novel "written by" Paul McCartney was really written by him.

Darzian
10-21-2009, 08:35 PM
I'm one who said I don't by books for the name, I buy it for the story. Let me clarify. I do not buy for the name at first. "Augusta Robsinson" doesn't mean anything to me if I see that name in the store. But if I read the back blurb and I like the sound of the story, I will buy it. If I read it and like the story, I will go back and see if Augusta Robinson has more books. I will read those blurbs, too. If I see more where I like the sound of the story, I will buy them. In that sense, after I've decided this author is worth it, I will look for more by the same name. If I've read two or three or four by Robinson and loved them all, sometimes I will stop reading the blurbs.

Same goes for someone famous, like King. I've heard of the name. I have heard good things--good buzz is "proof" there's a chance I might like the book. Again, I check out the story like I did above.

But I still won't buy a book unless there's a chance the story will be good. It's not about the name. I don't buy Hemingway books so that when people come to my house they will see his books strategically placed around and think I am awesome. But if I like the author, then yes, I agree the name is worth something. But that doesn't always mean the name is real. (Like Patterson. Some are strictly brands.)



I appreciate the clarification. Most people try out new authors frequently and it's always about the name.



In your example, I'm really not trying to be nitpicky but I am truly interested in the response: What if Rowling had never written any of the Potter books? It was a ghostwriter all along, and this ghostwriter has now written a new book under her name for her in the style of Harry Potter. A "brand" extension. Does that make a difference?


If Rowling were a real human but had no written any of the Potters and had had then written by a ghostwriter, then yes I would feel the same.

If Rowling had not been a real person and was instead a pen name chosen by said ghost writer (who automatically becomes 'writer' instead of ghostwriter) then I would not be offended. There, the writer was simply concealing their identity. The author name on the cover is not truly a lie as no person with said name exists. If I like the book, then, indirectly, I'm still praising the original writer. The chosen pen name is a fictional person who does not exist. But I would associate that pen name with either 'this writer is good' or 'this writer is bad.' To be clear: Since no man with that name exists, I'm still crediting the original writer with my thoughts.



Or is the example Rowling, who in fact did write all of the Potters, now has a ghostwriter working for her and pushing out more books?

In this case I would consider it a lie. Regardless of whether Rowling wrote any books at all, saying that she did so when she didn't is a lie.

Darzian
10-21-2009, 08:39 PM
It'd be silly (or naive) to expect that a novel "written by" Paul McCartney was really written by him.

I have no data to back me up but I think it's safe to say that a lot of people are not aware of the existence of ghost writers at all and so assume that the book would have been written by him. Why else would they buy the book? If they knew that someone else wrote the book and Paul simply put his name on it, then why buy the book?

Just curious here. :)


In general, the issue is this. There is no reasonable way to differentiate between ghost written celebrity fiction and actually written celebrity fiction. There should be a way to differentiate, (and this would effectively negate the reasons for ghost writing at all)

bearilou
10-21-2009, 08:47 PM
So...all a celebrity has to do to be considered an author is have someone write a book for them.

Sorry, that's what I'm hearing.

Phaeal
10-21-2009, 08:50 PM
But then the entire POINT of using a ghostwriter becomes moot. There is no...well, point in advertising:

SUPERSTAR, by super-model Elle MacPherson, on sale now! Ghostwritten by Janey Lake.

The entire reason for using this ghostwriter is to sell the book as a book by Elle MacPherson, not by Janey Lake. By stating it's ghostwritten, you might as well just let Janey Lake publish it under her own name. So Kevin's statement stands.

Sad but true. The whole point of ghostwriting is to make the reader think he's buying product by the celebrity. It would utterly defeat the purpose to give the ghost credit. So, by the nature of the beast, everyone involved in it must lie about it.

Collaboration is another story -- that naturally calls for citing the collaborator, probably in much smaller print, but citing her nevertheless.

I imagine that one reason for celebs putting out ghostwritten novels is so they can dish under the legal cover of fiction. I mean, what are fans looking for from celeb lit but tasty bits of gossip?

Darzian
10-21-2009, 09:03 PM
So, by the nature of the beast, everyone involved in it must lie about it.


Technically, I'd say that the ghostwriter, at least, does not lie. He simply writes and is paid for it. He's hired to do a job and he does it. The ones doing the lying are those who are marketing the book as written by someone else. They are saying that the writing skills in the fiction story belong to someone else. That is lying.

If it was a memoir, then it's understandable. The celebrity does not have much writing skill and so hires a writer. The cover should say it was ghost written and people may still buy it because the celebrity's story is there in the book and that's what they want.

But it's different with fiction. IMO.

Phaeal
10-21-2009, 09:14 PM
Technically, I'd say that the ghostwriter, at least, does not lie. He simply writes and is paid for it. He's hired to do a job and he does it. The ones doing the lying are those who are marketing the book as written by someone else. They are saying that the writing skills in the fiction story belong to someone else. That is lying.

Nonrhetorical questions:

Would the ghostwriter have to lie if directly questioned: "Ms. X, did you write Celeb Y's book, Z?" What would be her contractual obligations faced with this inquiry?

I imagine it's rare for a ghostwriter to face such interrogation. However, it is possible, so I'd imagine contracts would cover the situation.

Darzian
10-21-2009, 09:24 PM
Nonrhetorical questions:

Would the ghostwriter have to lie if directly questioned: "Ms. X, did you write Celeb Y's book, Z?" What would be her contractual obligations faced with this inquiry?

I imagine it's rare for a ghostwriter to face such interrogation. However, it is possible, so I'd imagine contracts would cover the situation.

I, too, believe that the contract would bind the situation. If so, then the ghostwriter would likely lie (as decreed by the contract) by stating that she did not write the book. However, if such a clause is in the contract, then the ghostwriter is not being forced into lying. He made the choice to accept the contract.

Of course, this is an extremely hypothetical situation that, like you said, would likely almost never arise.

aruna
10-21-2009, 09:29 PM
I have no data to back me up but I think it's safe to say that a lot of people are not aware of the existence of ghost writers at all and so assume that the book would have been written by him. Why else would they buy the book? If they knew that someone else wrote the book and Paul simply put his name on it, then why buy the book?


I'm saying, that it's pretty silly to expect Paul McCartney to be able to write (good) fiction. Most readers of celebrity fiction may not indeed be aware of the existence of ghostwriters; but it's as dumb to expect, say, Posh Beckham to write a novel as it is to expect Steven Spielberg to play a solo violin, or David Beckham to paint a masterpiece portrait. You don't expect the latter, so why do you expect the former? The fact is that people somehow think that "anyone can write a book". After all, we all use words in our everyday life.

I'm saying that the whole celebrity fiction thing depends on the stupidity of people who buy books just 'cos, you know, Jordan has turned into an overnight novelist. If those people did not exist the whole business would fall apart.


Technically, I'd say that the ghostwriter, at least, does not lie. He simply writes and is paid for it. He's hired to do a job and he does it. The ones doing the lying are those who are marketing the book as written by someone else. They are saying that the writing skills in the fiction story belong to someone else. That is lying.

.

Exactly. In a perfect world ghostwriters would certainly prefer to get the same money under their own name; but the world ain't perfect and isn't going to be for some time yet.

Darzian
10-21-2009, 09:39 PM
Exactly. In a perfect world ghostwriters would certainly prefer to get the same money under their own name; but the world ain't perfect and isn't going to be for some time yet.

Agreed.

The sole purpose (that I can see) of celebrities hiring ghost writers to write fiction stories and market the book as written by said celebrity is to increase the popularity of the celebrity. If anyone can suggest any other reasons, feel free to do so.

As such, the celebrity uses false methods to boost their own fame.

Toothpaste
10-21-2009, 09:51 PM
What would happen if we got rid of ghostwriting, said that the only person who was allowed to put their name on the cover of a book was the person who wrote the book? Could be interesting . . .

Also . . .I'm just curious. Are those defending ghostwriting doing so because it keeps said writers employed? I'm not sure if doing away with ghostwriters would actually make the situation for writers worse. I guess it could, no more celeb books to ghost write . . . then again, with fewer such books on the market, would the ghost writers now have a chance to have their work published? I'm not really sure, but I'm not sure we can say definitively that if we did away with ghost writing, writers would suffer because of it.

And please please can we stop saying that "anyone who doesn't know about ghost writers are stupid" thing, because that's insulting and it also is extremely cynical. When someone thinks that the author of the book is the author of the book, how does that make them stupid? Usually when people say, "Look what I did" they are supposed to have actually done it. I guess in this day and age we are meant to be cynical, suspect everyone. That's just sad. But it doesn't make the few people who trust stupid, it actually makes them very logical. It's irrational to assume that someone saying they created something didn't.

Alpha Echo
10-21-2009, 09:53 PM
I haven't read all of this thread yet (I will - it's an interesting debate), but I wanted to comment.

I do get what Ray is saying. I would feel cheated, I think, if, for instance, Patrick Swayze's memoir (yes, I bought it - haven't read it yet, but I liked the excerpts) wasn't written by him. I totally would.

But...on the other hand, I don't every buy a book based on who they are. Well known author or not. Most of the books I own, actually, are by authors I've never heard of at all. And as long as it's a good book, I'm happy. And if I found out that Joe Blow hadn't written it afterall, it wouldn't bother me.

But if I read and enjoyed something written by a celebrity and found out it wasn't written by them after all, that would be disappointing.

I'm not sure why that is.

But I rarely buy anything by a celebrity anyway. A couple memoirs, and now I want to buy Ethan Hawke and Hugh Laurie's stuff...but other than that, I haven't seen anything interesting.

KTC
10-21-2009, 09:54 PM
So...all a celebrity has to do to be considered an author is have someone write a book for them.

Sorry, that's what I'm hearing.

You are correct.

Phaeal
10-21-2009, 10:02 PM
It's irrational to assume that someone saying they created something didn't.

If one has observed the human proclivity for lying long enough, it is no longer irrational to suspect lies, given certain circumstances. Such as the possibility of gain.

Is Phaeal cynical? Yeah, she is. But only rationally so. ;)

But the above is not to say that readers who don't know about ghostwriters are stupid. They're likely just readers who aren't also writers or publishing professionals. Hard to believe, I know, but not everyone is fascinated by the nuts and bolts of the business.

Alpha Echo
10-21-2009, 10:03 PM
Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Babysitter's Club and many more were filled in with ghost writers. Do I feel cheated? No, I don't. I don't care. I buy books to be entertained, if they do their job, I got my money's worth. But then again I don't buy books for a name.

Really? I didn't know that.

I am disappointed actually. I loved Nancy Drew and the Babysitter's Club series'.

aruna
10-21-2009, 10:06 PM
And please please can we stop saying that "anyone who doesn't know about ghost writers are stupid" thing, because that's insulting and it also is extremely cynical. .


That's not what I was saying, Toothpaste. I'm saying the whole celebrity-culture thing is stupid. It's stupid to buy anything -- book, perfume, bra, whatever, which has nothing whatsever to do with the celebrity you so admire, JUST BECAUSE that celebrity's name is on it.

It's a ridiculous and fairly recent phenomenon, and unfortunately it's even grabbed hold of kids. Look at this whole Hannah Montanah thing -- even someone as celebrity-unconscious as I am can't fail to see this name on kid stuff all over the place: hairdryers, clothes, bags etc.

Of course, as long as it makes money, that justifies everything!

I've heard it said that the huge sales from celebrity books helps finance the industry so that publishers can take a chance on unknown writers. I don't know if that's true or not.

Alpha Echo
10-21-2009, 10:39 PM
Not necessarily. All that is needed is a statement that the book was ghostwritten. The actual writer need not even be mentioned. A statement that the book was not written by the 'author' on the cover is, basically, the truth.


I'm just discussing morals here.

I agree.

Alpha Echo
10-21-2009, 10:41 PM
I'm one who said I don't by books for the name, I buy it for the story. Let me clarify. I do not buy for the name at first. "Augusta Robsinson" doesn't mean anything to me if I see that name in the store. But if I read the back blurb and I like the sound of the story, I will buy it. If I read it and like the story, I will go back and see if Augusta Robinson has more books. I will read those blurbs, too. If I see more where I like the sound of the story, I will buy them. In that sense, after I've decided this author is worth it, I will look for more by the same name. If I've read two or three or four by Robinson and loved them all, sometimes I will stop reading the blurbs.

Same goes for someone famous, like King. I've heard of the name. I have heard good things--good buzz is "proof" there's a chance I might like the book. Again, I check out the story like I did above.

But I still won't buy a book unless there's a chance the story will be good. It's not about the name. I don't buy Hemingway books so that when people come to my house they will see his books strategically placed around and think I am awesome. But if I like the author, then yes, I agree the name is worth something. But that doesn't always mean the name is real. (Like Patterson. Some are strictly brands.)

In your example, I'm really not trying to be nitpicky but I am truly interested in the response: What if Rowling had never written any of the Potter books? It was a ghostwriter all along, and this ghostwriter has now written a new book under her name for her in the style of Harry Potter. A "brand" extension. Does that make a difference?

Or is the example Rowling, who in fact did write all of the Potters, now has a ghostwriter working for her and pushing out more books?

Good post, and that's exactly what I tried to say only much, much better. I'm too tired...my post was too rambly.

bearilou
10-21-2009, 10:58 PM
When I buy books (fiction, biographies are a different animal), I expect the author listed on the front of the book to be the one who actually wrote it. No, it won't destroy my enjoyment of the book but I'm still disappointed that it was marketed to me, leading me to believe they did.

And being disappointed, I'm less inclined to buy anything by that 'author' again, no matter how good the storytelling/writing is because the trust I had was broken.

edited in: guess that shows different people have different expectations and priorities, huh? :)

Richard White
10-21-2009, 11:32 PM
So, how many people were disappointed that:

a) George Lucas didn't write the original Star War books?
b) There never were nine books "already written" about the series before the first movie?

Because, I remember in 1977 how everyone bought into those stories. Even now, knowing the truth, it doesn't take away any feelings I have for either the movies or the books.

(The second trilogy of movies? I'll just keep pretending they never happened.)

bearilou
10-21-2009, 11:45 PM
So, how many people were disappointed that:

a) George Lucas didn't write the original Star War books?
b) There never were nine books "already written" about the series before the first movie?

Because, I remember in 1977 how everyone bought into those stories. Even now, knowing the truth, it doesn't take away any feelings I have for either the movies or the books.

(The second trilogy of movies? I'll just keep pretending they never happened.)


He didn't? Which books are those? Because if he didn't, then, yeah, I'm pretty disappointed IN HIM and yeah, it kind of does color my respect for him. And it does throw the movies into a different light for me.

The Lonely One
10-22-2009, 12:16 AM
So, how many people were disappointed that:

a) George Lucas didn't write the original Star War books?
b) There never were nine books "already written" about the series before the first movie?

Because, I remember in 1977 how everyone bought into those stories. Even now, knowing the truth, it doesn't take away any feelings I have for either the movies or the books.

(The second trilogy of movies? I'll just keep pretending they never happened.)

Well, I think Star Wars is known as a movie franchise first and foremost. The literature is secondary, IMO. I have a fondness in my heart for ANH, Empire and Jedi (not so much the others--I'm with you there), though I've never enjoyed a Star Wars book aside maybe from Shadows of the Empire (the N64 game was pretty badass also).

Frankly, and I might be living under a rock, but, I had no idea about Lucas and the books until you mentioned it here. But I don't really give a darn.

I would care if someone else was behind the films.

Richard White
10-22-2009, 12:25 AM
I was talking about the novels "Star Wars", "The Empire Strikes Back", "Return of the Jedi" (originally titled, "Revenge of the Jedi" . . . my wife has a copy of the script with that title page on it). They were all ghostwritten for Lucas.

The new Star Wars line has been written by a number of authors who got to put their names on the books (our own A.C. Crispin being one of them), as well as the ancillary books in the 70's and 80's (Alan Dean Foster wrote a bunch of them to include "Splinter of the Mind's Eye" . . . a rather interesting take on the Star Wars mythology, considering it was written well before Empire came out).

But the original core books . . . not Lucas.

bearilou
10-22-2009, 12:40 AM
I was talking about the novels "Star Wars", "The Empire Strikes Back", "Return of the Jedi" (originally titled, "Revenge of the Jedi" . . . my wife has a copy of the script with that title page on it). They were all ghostwritten for Lucas.

Okey, I'm confused. Those were books published before the movies? After the movies? Were they published and marketed as being written by him?

(I knew about the title change of the Return of the Jedi and remember the whoopla surrounding the choice of wording on that.)

editing in:

See, my memory has it that there were the three books written as tie-ins after the movies came out. Alan Dean Foster did ghostwrite the first one and two other authors (whose names escape me at the moment) wrote the other two. I don't recall them being ghostwriters but I do remember ADF was.

And yes, he wasn't truthful and it does color my perception of him and it does affect how I view the movies. I will still love the movies and I will still watch them. But George Lucas' word is now worth spit and anything he puts out afterward will be suspect in my eyes because he can't be counted on to tell the truth. I will always wonder with anything he does now if it is truly his work.

Not that it is worth it now considering his love for retconning his work and even his own personal story and acting like he had said it/meant it all along...

HAN DID SHOOT FIRST, DAMN IT!

Phaeal
10-22-2009, 12:48 AM
I like the first trilogy. Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor. Natalie Portman. Jumping Jack Yoda. Light-saber fights in volcanoes. Mmmm.

Well, the first three SW books are just novelizations of the movies. Which is another whole phenomenon. Star Wars Trilogy, a collection of the three, lists George Lucas, Donald F. Glut, and James Kahn as the authors. It does appear that Lucas is credited alone for the first novelization (SW IV, A New Hope).

Authors for the second (first) trilogy are Terry Brooks, R. A. Salvatore, and Matthew Stover.

katiemac
10-22-2009, 12:55 AM
Okay, I think I've reached a personal conclusion. Ray asked pages ago if I would be disappointed if I learned Hugh Laurie did not write his book and in fact it was a ghostwriter.

Really I think it's the same personal conclusion I had before, but perhaps with a bit of a clarification:

My opinion of the "author" would change. Disappointment? Probably not that drastic, but yes, I wouldn't be impressed with Hugh Laurie any more than I would be impressed if it came out that JK Rowling had a ghostwriter. They didn't write it. I won't praise them for it.

But my opinion of the story would not change. I would still reread Harry Potter whenever I felt like it because I think it's awesome. I would not return my copy of The Gunseller to the publisher with an angry note.

Instead, I would look for more things written by those ghostwriters if I could, and if they continued to write under Hugh Laurie and JK Rowling I would probably read those, too. I'll continue to read any author I like until the books start to suck.

That all being said, I've only ever read the one celebrity-penned novel. And the only times I recall discovering an author I read somewhat frequently was a collection of ghostwriters--V.C. Andrews--I don't think I cared so much. I read some Nancy Drews when I was younger, too, but I don't recall being upset about the pen name/ghostwriters after I found out. So I know I don't have the same perspective, but I guess that's kind of the point of a discussion.

blacbird
10-22-2009, 12:58 AM
My opinion of the "author" would change. . . .

But my opinion of the story would not change.

Funny how it doesn't work that way with paintings, though. Once that multi-million dollar Vermeer hanging in the Guggenheim is determined to be a fake, the painting doesn't change a single molecule, but the public opinion of its value damsure does.

caw

Richard White
10-22-2009, 01:10 AM
Okey, I'm confused. Those were books published before the movies? After the movies? Were they published and marketed as being written by him?

(I knew about the title change of the Return of the Jedi and remember the whoopla surrounding the choice of wording on that.)

editing in:

See, my memory has it that there were the three books written as tie-ins after the movies came out. Alan Dean Foster did ghostwrite the first one and two other authors (whose names escape me at the moment) wrote the other two. I don't recall them being ghostwriters but I do remember ADF was.

And yes, he wasn't truthful and it does color my perception of him and it does affect how I view the movies. I will still love the movies and I will still watch them. But George Lucas' word is now worth spit and anything he puts out afterward will be suspect in my eyes because he can't be counted on to tell the truth. I will always wonder with anything he does now if it is truly his work.

Not that it is worth it now considering his love for retconning his work and even his own personal story and acting like he had said it/meant it all along...

HAN DID SHOOT FIRST, DAMN IT!

OK, I'll try to be clear.

In 1977, the novel Star Wars came out about the same time as the movie. The myth around the books was that Lucas had written 9 novels based on the Star Wars Universe (3 prequels, 3 involving Luke and Leia and 3 later on with their descendants) long before he ever tried to make them into movies.

The Star Wars novel was not promoted as a novelization. It was Star Wars. It was supposed to have been the basis for the movie.

Remember - at the time, no one was sure if a second movie would be made, although it soon became obvious there would be more . . . especially when it played for over 100 weeks at Kansas City's largest theater on it's biggest screen.

Empire and Jedi were supposed to have been based off books 5 and 6.

This also was pre-internet, so the average fan only knew what Lucas and his studio put out about the movies in interview in fan magazines and the few SF/F magazines that covered movies and TV like Starlog. It was years down the road before anyone outside of a very few people knew that Alan Dean Foster wrote the first book and put George's name on it. It also is one of the reasons he got to write the very profitable spin-off books - besides the fact he's a damn good writer in his own right.

My assumption is, ADF decided the ability to write the spin-offs more than made up for not putting his name on the first one. *shrug* Might not be fact, but it's a reasonable guess.

You can say Lucas played loose with the truth, but no one has ever doubted his business acumen. He knows how to generate hype and hype sells.

katiemac
10-22-2009, 01:18 AM
Funny how it doesn't work that way with paintings, though. Once that multi-million dollar Vermeer hanging in the Guggenheim is determined to be a fake, the painting doesn't change a single molecule, but the public opinion of its value damsure does.

caw

I don't know much about art. ;) But yeah, on World News last week they had a story about a guy who is trying to prove a painting he purchased (for a large price tag) was actually a lost da Vinci. They're doing crazy studies on it at the museum with laser technology and whatcha-ma-callits and if it is a true da Vinci the owner will have made out big on the deal, for sure.

KTC
10-22-2009, 01:20 AM
oh crap. this reminds me. i once did a painting for someone that they took credit for. I guess I'm lying scum. Oops. I forgot all about that. Bad bad blacbird.

icerose
10-22-2009, 01:24 AM
Funny how it doesn't work that way with paintings, though. Once that multi-million dollar Vermeer hanging in the Guggenheim is determined to be a fake, the painting doesn't change a single molecule, but the public opinion of its value damsure does.

caw

I'm calling apples and rocks. They have absolutely nothing to do with one another.

With the painting you are dealing with a single fixed item. They go up in value depending on who painted it.

The book never changes and often goes into a discount bin and there can be MILLIONS of exact duplicates that have no less quality than the one next to it.

Furthermore the writing world if FILLED with this sort of stuff. I will again point out professional examples. Speech writers. How many presidents have thanked their speech writers and named them after giving a speech? How many of them say thanks when they are told that was an excellent speech?

Broadcast writers. How many broadcast writers do you know by name? How many news reporters thank their writers and give them credit on air? I'm hearing crickets.

Body doubles/stuntmen. How many actors/actresses thank their body doubles and name them by name when they accept awards for their performances? I'm guessing the number is at or below zero.

Pen names. How many writers lie about their identity. How many actors and actresses lie about their real name?

Series that have multiple contributing authors under a single umbrella name. Nancy Drew series has been pulled up multiple times. That person doesn't even exist and the real writers never get credit and some never even get royalties. One of the main Hardy Boys writer made 200 lousy dollars a book even though the series made millions. Talk about a raw deal!

Anne McCafferty's lastest books are written by her nephew under her name.

These things have been going on for centuries and probably will continue to go on for centuries. Chances are you've happened across more than a few like this and you didn't even know it. This is not a new thing, it's merely a revisited trend.

DWSTXS
10-22-2009, 01:49 AM
I've never really agreed with this argument that These things have been going on for centuries and probably will continue to go on for centuries in any context.

Lots of things have been going on for centuries and that doesn't make it right.

Murder, for instance. Child-abuse. Corruption in government. This list can go on and on. Doesn't make it right in my mind.

JJ Cooper
10-22-2009, 01:49 AM
Writing under a pen name isn't ghostwriting or claiming credit for something the name on the title didn't write. I write under a pen name. That name is on the cover and is registered for copyright under that name.

In my bio it mentions my time as an interrogator and some other background information. If that were false the reader should feel cheated even though it is a work of fiction. I'm not claiming my real name is JJ Cooper - it's the name I publish under. I've made this statement in several media interviews as well.

If someone else wrote the novel and my bio was attached - the reader should feel cheated.

If my publisher wanted a couple of novels a year and had someone else write one and I the other, and they were published under my pen name without credit to the ghostwriter, it's not being honest to the reader.

JJ

scarletpeaches
10-22-2009, 01:51 AM
JJ, you need to stop posting stuff I agree with. It's unnerving...

icerose
10-22-2009, 02:22 AM
I've never really agreed with this argument that These things have been going on for centuries and probably will continue to go on for centuries in any context.

Lots of things have been going on for centuries and that doesn't make it right.

Murder, for instance. Child-abuse. Corruption in government. This list can go on and on. Doesn't make it right in my mind.

So we're down to the murder and child abuse argument.

It's business. Either you're okay with that business exchange or your not.

Stepping back from the thread because we're really just going in circles.

Darzian
10-22-2009, 02:33 AM
I've already addressed pen names, Ice Rose, and your analogies are not valid in the context of this discussion. Since you won't be returning here, I won't clarify.

JJ Cooper
10-22-2009, 03:09 AM
JJ, you need to stop posting stuff I agree with. It's unnerving...

It's kinda freaking me out too.

Cheers,

JJ

djf881
10-22-2009, 03:14 AM
There are actually books out that are written by fictional characters. Showtime is pimping a book written by David Duchovny's character from "Californication". I think there's also a crime novel out that's written by the character from "Castle."

There was a "Lost" tie-in book that was credited to and ostensibly written by a tangential character (I think somebody who died in the plane crash).

Wayne K
10-22-2009, 03:29 AM
The answer from a lawyer. She's never heard of someone having a book ghost written and then going on tour claiming to have physically written it themselves. She also says the question of it being unethical or not is a debate, not a fact. Unethical doesn't equal unlawful either. It's her OPINION that a reputable publisher wouldn't allow someone to make that claim.

KTC
10-22-2009, 03:32 AM
But you're telling me she actually knows what ghostwriting is? Because from what you're saying here...sure doesn't sound like she's heard of it.

Wayne K
10-22-2009, 03:41 AM
I'd really rather not discuss it any further. I'd rather be wrong than have bad feelings and fight with people I like.

KTC
10-22-2009, 03:43 AM
I'd really rather not discuss it any further. I'd rather be wrong than have bad feelings and fight with people I like.

Creepy, Wayne. I was LITERALLY just thinking the same thing. I'm sorry. I like you too much to do this too. That is all on this for me, my friend.

MacAllister
10-22-2009, 04:00 AM
And on that note, with Kevin and Wayne agreeing to disagree, SP and JJ both completely freaked to discover themselves in agreement about something, and multiple folks confirming that the thread is circling the drain: Clearly it is the Apocalypse.

Oh LOOK! A cow! -->

Soccer Mom
10-22-2009, 05:05 AM
http://s611.photobucket.com/albums/tt194/maryrbutler/Cows/?action=view&current=DSCN0466.jpg