What Is Ghostwriting, and Why Is It Bad?

Every once in a while, maybe three of four times per year, a well-known celebrity along with a big publishing company will release a memoir, describing their story. Whether it be about their success or struggles in life, books by influential figures are sure to make money. The average purchaser of these books is most likely expecting a completely honestly and original product entirely written by the celebrity at hand. But alas, even the most well-known pieces are contributed to by a ghostwriter. Ghostwriting allows a second, or even third, person to crank out most or all of the words on each and every page, with minimal credit.

If you’re hearing about ghostwriting for the first time, you may be thinking, “What’s so wrong with that? Having more talent on a project means a better final product”. For the most part, I agree. The real issue that irks me is the lack of credit given to any contributors beside the celebrity. Even if the secondary writer is one-hundred percent okay with the scenario, the public is generally being lied to when the book is said to be “entirely written by ‘X’ celebrity” in advertisements and promotional material when it is simply not.

But as with what seems like any big corporation, a few people like me bickering on the vast Internet won’t stop them. I think a quote from Ira Silverberg, a literary agent, sums it up:

“Publishers are smart enough to cash in where it’s appropriate…The question, I think, for many of us is: Is it simply commerce and we should laugh it off? Or does it take a slot away from a legitimate writer?”

That’s what I think should be the focus of this issue. Any publishing house- or any business at all, for that matter- keeps its doors open and employees working for, mainly, money. Once again, celebrity books can make that money in an instant, so why take the risk of publishing for a newcomer in the writing business over a well-known figure?

Right now, there are too few mainstream ghostwritten books to put your readings habits, and your wallet, on lockdown. Amazon.com and other stores make it easy for original independent authors to put their two cents out into the writing world, and every major publisher still churns out unique and honest content. But next time you look for a new book to purchase, think about the integrity of the book, and the author.

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