Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I ain't afraid of no ghost(writer).

The other day, BBC 1's The One Show ran a piece on how "dishonest" the labelling of a kids book as "Enid Blyton's The new Adventures of the wishing chair" was. The reason for this is because the book was written by a ghostwriter.

Now, I've applied for work as a ghostwriter before. I've spoken to some people who have done ghostwriting. It is hard graft for very little reward, but it is also very definitively a skill. Now, the morality of supposedly making it appear that the book is written by Enid Blyton aside, personally as an ex-freelancer I feel there is a bigger issue at work that the one show didn't pick up on.

Now, for a lot of freelancers, a lot of work comes in because of reputation. and the like are a great referral service, but the best freelancers I've seen on line are making money because people are coming to them with work.

The last ghostwritten book I bought was Eddie Guerrero's autobiography Cheating Death, Stealing Life. WWE have always been very fair to their ghostwriters, since from what I gather, they become 'one of the boys' when they're on the road with the wrestlers. You'll notice on the cover of Eddie's book that Michael Krugman, the ghostwriter, is given a cover credit. Same goes for William Regal's Walking a Golden Mile (Neil Chandler), and Ric Flair's To Be The Man (Kevin Elliot Greenberg).

Moving away from wrestling Biographies, James Hunt's Against All Odds gives Eoin Hunt fair credit for writing it, as did Robbie Williams with Somebody Someday. In the case of a lot of these, its a hardcover credit on the inside of the sleeve, with a small passage from the ghostwriter. The book is primarily credited to the celebrity, which is fair enough - thats who people are buy the book for.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Ghostwriting process, for a lot of writers it consists of interviews, spending a lot of time with the subject, a Dictaphone and a notepad.

But recently, I've noticed what, to me, is a rather disturbing trend: ghostwriters not getting a proper credit. what the one show pointed out, was the ghostwriter was named only as a dedication in the 'Enid Blyton' book.

Katie Price - better known as Jordan - has supposedly written four Autobiographies and a string of fiction novels. Except she hasn't. All the books were written by a ghostwriter named Rebecca Farnworth.

I'm sure that this doesn't come as a surprise to you. I'm pretty sure everyone figured out that Jordan trying to write would be like a dog quoting Aristotle. Also, I'm fucking AMAZED that Farnworth managed to stretch Jordan's life to four books.

Random house, Price's publisher, released a statement saying beforehand that "Rebecca Farnworth's name is clearly credited on the copyright page of the books."

Really? have you ever tried reading a book's copyright page? Its legalese blurb in the smallest available print. It's very difficult to wade through.

Now, before you think I'm slagging off celebs, I'm not. Ghostwriter's provide a valuable service by writing books people want to read. Katie Price has fully admitted she isn't a writer. She does come up with the ideas for her fiction books, but she doesn't have the ability to write them, so Farnworth does it for her. That's fair enough. Ms Farnworth has also been allowed to describe what working with Katie Price is like. It's a fascinating read, as Ghostwriters have to spend so much time with the subject.

But surely she deserves a bit more credit than a single line on the copyright page? how difficult is it for the publishers to do what WWE does and have KATIE PRICE in big screaming letters and "with Rebecca Farnworth" underneath? I have to say, it was incredibly difficult to find out who ghostwrote Steven Gerrard's book.

I don't object to the practice of Ghostwriting the way the One Show do. But I'm of the opinion that Ghostwriters deserve a fairer amount of credit for the work they do. And I'm very VERY glad I'm not one of them. In a way, writers like the one's mentioned above are luck, in that their names are getting out there. For new ghostwriters coming in, this won't be the case, and thats the kind of thing that can make or break careers.

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