Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Because They Could Not Stop for Death

I have been on panels with ghost-writers; these are folks who write a book, knowing they will never be acknowledged as the "author," but they do the writing strictly for money. Hubby and I were in a bookstore recently, and he picked up a "new" book by an author who is deceased. Long deceased, actually, and I told him that he might want to move on, because the volume he held had probably been written by a ghost-writer. Indeed, some authors have published many volumes after death; Forbes ran an article about this phenomenon, including the statistic that V. C. Andrews has published more than twenty books since her death.

Now, I have nothing against ghost-writing, as long as the so called "author" just hires some help and if the help is satisfied with a check rather than being credited as an author. This is often the case when a "celebrity" decides to pen an autobiography. But when authors write for decades beyond their deaths, that's cheating. Publishers, reluctant to give up the fame (and fortune) of an established author, sometimes keep new titles coming, and many readers don't seem to be discerning enough to spurn these knock-offs. Some of the aforementioned Andrews titles have reached best-seller status.

About a month ago I loaded up my PDA with some eBooks, and one action adventure was a "Rogue Angel" novel. The number of books being released in this series (nearly thirty titles in four years) suggested that these novels are being written by a series of ghost-writers, and this is confirmed by various sites, including Good Reads. While this approach seems odd, it seems more ethical than the volumes of works attributed to the deceased.

Nowadays, it is often easier to write a check than to actually do the work yourself. I have someone who tutors my kid, someone who cleans my house, and someone who helps with yard work. Why not hire a writer rather than write?

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