Yesterday I stumbled across an interesting post by literary agent Janet Reid, “Ghosting Is Not Stealing, Unless It Is.” For those of you who may not have heard about this particular issue, someone in the world of romance writing decided to make novel-writing easier. She hired a ghost writer and supplied her with chunks of text to mush together into a novel. Unfortunately, this chunks were taken from other authors’ novels. I’m not sure if the ghostwriter did it with knowledge or without knowledge but she ended up helping plagiarise the work of other authors.
As Reid explains, there is nothing unethical about ghostwriting. Not familiar with this term? Ghostwriting is simply when an author or authors are paid to write, knowing that someone else’s name will appear on the final product.
Ironically, given yesterday’s Nancy Drew post, the Nancy Drew novels were plagiarized, So were the later Boxcar Children’s books. Not all series are ghostwritten but many are and that’s okay. The author name represents a brand that requires several authors to meet demand. These authors all work to write in the same voice, using the same characters and the same story world. This is essential for readers to have the “Nancy Drew” or whatever experience.
I have friends who have worked as ghost writers but it is something I’ve never done. I have to come near to a shared voice when I write series nonfiction but we each get our names on the books we write. If it is something that interests you, it is my understanding that ghost writing pays fairly well.
Like any other type of writing, if you are going to turn it in as your work, it has to BE your work. It seems pretty straightforward but apparently it confuses some people.