Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ghost Writing

Let's talk about ghost writing.

I'm talking about some personage who has a story idea (usually a memoir) and doesn't have time, (or sometimes talent) but pays you money to write his/her story and keep your own name out of it.

1) should it be your best work?
2) why?


Townsend said...

I'd definitely make it the best I can do because:

1. The book will sell better if it is well done.

2. My contract would have a provision for a flat payment, plus a percentage of the royalities, plus an option to write the next book the person wants to have written.

3. It will give me excellent exposure to the "author's" agent and editor. If I don't already have them this would be highly useful.

4. Not least of all, it's the only way to go.

mmdevoe said...

great idea on the contract, but what if the ghostwriter's contract only gives him/her a large sum of money upon completion and not the excellent clauses you thought up. (this, readers is why you need to learn the business end of the business of writing, by the way!) -- additionally, most regular people who offer ghostwriting gigs do not have agents. Should an author pass these by? If he takes one to pay the rent, should he do his best work? This goes, incidentally, for day-job writing too. Is it better for a writer with, say, a pharma copyediting job to do his best and risk being burnt out creatively at the end of every day? Any readers have a day job like this and want to comment?

Townsend said...

There is a wonderful and funny article in the NYT Book Review section this week about memoir writing. The reviewer thinks the genre has run amock and offers four rules:

That you had parents and a childhood does not of itself qualify you to write a memoir.

No one wants to relive your misery.

If you're jumping on a bandwagon, make sure you have better credentials than the people already on it.

If you still must write a memoir, consider making yourself the least important character in it.

mmdevoe said...

I saw this article--totally cracked me up. :-)

I wonder if serious memoir writers found it offensive, though. It was fairly brutal.

(yet ultimately? funny)