Have you ever walked by a shelf in the library and wondered how on earth a particular author has managed to write so many books? *cough* James Patterson *cough*
Before you start to feel like you’re falling behind in the face of such output, though, let’s consider the figure lurking in the dark behind the big name: the ghostwriter, a skilled writer who will do a significant amount of wordsmithing while signing over credit to the person whose face and name will be attached to the book/email/social media post.
Ghostwriters are nothing new to the publishing industry, and can be called in for a number of different reasons. Perhaps, like Tom Clancy, the author has simply become too popular to keep up with demand. Another example of this situation is George Takei, who has a ghostwriter for his Facebook posts. Other times, a ghostwriter will work with someone whose expertise may lie in another area (think politicians or businesspeople). While they may have the insight and information to share, it is the ghostwriter who polishes and presents it to the public!
Goosebumps by R.L. Stine
As this creepy series became popular, it spawned a number of spin-off series as well, and R.L. just couldn’t keep up with the demand. Cue the reinforcements! A number of authors contributed to the series to ensure young readers could stay up late into the night, reading books that would make the hair on the back of their neck stand up.
The Babysitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin
Recognize the name Peter Lerangis? Known for penning some of the books from the 39 Clues series, as well as the Seven Wonders series, Lerangis wrote a number of well-known titles from The Babysitter’s Club, as well as some of the Sweet Valley books, usually credited to Francine Pascal.
With so much power behind the scenes, it’s not surprising that some authors have turned the tables to explore the world of ghostwriters themselves. Here are just a couple:
Ghostwritten by Isabel Wolff
Jenni loves her job as a ghostwriter – it satisfies her insatiable curiosity about people. It also means that she can hide behind the stories of others and not think about her own life too much. But when Jenni starts work on the memoirs of a survivor of the Japanese internment camps in Java, striking coincidences force her to examine her own past.
Ghosted by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall
Mason, a struggling writer, comes in from the cold after five years of drifting. His childhood friend, Chaz, a small-time gangster, loans him an apartment and finds him a job selling hotdogs. But instead of getting his act together, Mason digs himself even more deeply in debt to Chaz.
Then Mason has a bright idea. He’ll find the cash to pay Chaz back by becoming a ghostwriter of suicide notes, a fitting use of his talents. The trouble is that Mason is hard-wired to rescue people, and no one needs rescuing more than the suicidal.
Are there any authors here that surprise you? Or maybe someone I missed that you think is worth a mention? Let me know in the comments below!