Today, when writer-ghostwriter Laura Young came to speak to the class, I was not expecting my perception of the world to be altered forever. Well…that might be an exaggeration. But I was pretty shocked at the concept of ghostwriters for fiction, not to mention increasingly disillusioned every time Young mentioned another series I’ve read that uses ghostwriters.
Though it would be a logical conclusion to come to, I had never even considered that any of the books I’ve read were written by someone other than the name on the cover would indicate. I have always trusted that The Author once did the physical work of typing out what I read.
I am torn about my feelings on ghostwriting fiction. On one hand, I have read and loved books that were apparently ghostwritten; I would still love the book regardless of who actually wrote it, and I would be glad the book exists (whereas it might not have were it not for a team of ghostwriters). But my more immediate, and stronger, response is horror. I am questioning the integrity of every YA series I’ve ever read.
How can one of these authors betray my trust by outsourcing their story to people whose names usually don’t even appear on or in the books? I imagine the feeling is something like what a teacher catching a student plagiarizing would feel, a student who has supposedly written a phenomenal paper and whom the teacher trusts and expects good work from. That the student has used another’s work doesn’t make the paper any less phenomenal. It ruins the trust the teacher (or, the reader) had in that student (or, an author whose name appears on a ghostwritten book).
So I’m glad books that can capture and entertain young minds exist, regardless of who wrote them. And I’m glad these series do their part in making money for the publishing industry. But I sincerely wish I had some warning when a book was ghostwritten, because the ghostwriter deserves credit for doing the work (a book or series is more than a plot!) and because it changes my opinion of the author taking that credit.