In the near future, there will be a scandal in literature, I predict. I’m not sure if that’s in fifty years or in two hundred, but I feel it will happen one day. So far, I have zero proof that it is happening on a major scale but I do think it is happening now as we speak.
What is this conspiracy theory that has me wearing tinfoil on my head? Ghostwriting, and to be more exact, that major, blockbuster writers are actually frauds.
First, what is a ghostwriter?
As the name implies, it’s a phantom force that does the writing for someone. No, not a literal ghost that floats in a white sheet but someone else who writes for you.
Ghostwriting has been around for a long time. And as long as it’s out in the open, I see nothing wrong with ghost writing, as long as the reader is made aware.
Most biographies are co-written, meaning they were ghost written by another author. I’m sorry, but that reality star from Jersey Shore probably really didn’t sit down and write down their autobiography and was, more likely, just a recorded interview that was then later written by a ghostwriter. Sorry to break your heart.
But as I stated earlier, as long as the ghostwriter is acknowledged, usually following the non-writer’s name with a “with” I think there is nothing wrong with that. What I am suggesting is something more sinister. I’m suggesting that full on authors are not writing their books and are not who they claim to be.
I first came across ghost writing as a Tom Clancy fan. He had a new book out, Op-Center, and I couldn’t wait to get my teeth into it. After the first chapter or so, the book felt weird. It just didn’t seem like Mr. Clancy. It was as if his writing was…off.
I then see that it was co-written with another gentleman and upon reading the notes, it became clear the Mr. Clancy was more of an adviser than a writer on the project. I felt had at the time, but in retrospect, Mr. Clancy did nothing wrong. The co-author was right there, on the front of the book. Clancy fans would later dub these “asterisk books” since they weren’t really written entirely by Tom Clancy. And that’s fine. I think its great for an author to brand him or herself and become their own little empire. If a director can produce poor sequels and have the money come in by not doing any of the actual work, why can’t a writer?
However, later on I saw that Glenn Beck had written a book of fiction. This had me floored. How could a man, with a radio and television show be able to write a bestselling book? I looked right there, right on the cover, and Mr. Beck’s name and his alone was on the cover. My spidey-sense tingled that something wasn’t right.
As I did a little bit of research I found out, yet again, that there was no secret. Mr. Beck openly talked about that he didn’t actually physically write the books but they were written for him, based on his ideas. He even credits them inside the acknowledgments.
So I was wrong to assume that Glenn Beck was a phony, trying to pass himself off as a fiction writer. But that still got my wheels turning.
Doing an Internet search, however, one does come across plenty of ghostwriters who make small fortunes deceiving readers. These writers, write some of the bestselling stuff out there and have someone else’s name on the cover. This is what I’m talking about. And this is what bothers me.
As for the actual ghostwriter, I don’t feel that they are to blame. I completely understand creating something, getting a check, and then passing along the glory to someone else, someone more marketable. But the real villain is the person acting like they wrote the book.
No one has been outed, yet, but it’s just a matter of time before they are.
Sure the faux-writer has made the ghostwriter sign a million pieces of paper that he or she can’t disclose the fraud. It may even last a hundred years until everyone who is involved is outed. By then the ghostwriter and phony writer would be dead is dead. But what then? What happens when the years past and the truth comes out? Why aren’t these fake writers afraid of that?
Think about your favorite author (if it’s me, thanks for reading mom) and now imagine that you found out that he or she is a complete fraud, that they had someone else do the work for them. How would you feel? Deceived? Angry? All of thee above?
And that’s what I just don’t get. Why do it if you’re gonna get caught? And trust me, you will get caught. Maybe not now, but eventually you will.
Don’t worry. I don’t think it’s any one of the major writers like JK Rowling or Stephen King. These guys have written extensively about their writing habit. But I do see that some more, less famous writers will be made out.
And that’s what stuns me. When you and I are dead, do you want the world to look back on you as a fraud? I mean, sure, during your lifetime you had the fortune and honors of being a writer but what then? What about your legacy? All the work you may have done, either big or small, will be tossed to the trash bin of history, just another fake who wanted fame and fortune in their lifetime.
So that’s my fear. One day these writer’s will be found out. The public will cry out (as well they should) and then it will make all writers suspect. And that’s what burns me the most. Here I am, year four, five, or six, (I’m not sure) of slaving away and learning the craft and then some bozo is gonna through me and everyone else who worked hard into a shadow of doubt.
I guess the only solace that any writer and reader can have is that these people will be outed one day and with it, their legacy shamed. And there’s nothing worse than that, in this lifetime at least.