For some reason, as a small child I learned about ghostwriters (from where? No clue), and instinctively learned to keep away from ghostwritten series. I could spot one from a mile away. Other than The Boxcar Children, and a few “horsie” stories here and there, I never read ghostwritten books because even as a kid, I could tell the quality wasn’t there. I didn’t want to waste my time on something the writer didn’t care about, heart and soul. So I spent my days reading Avi or Eoin Colfer instead. And okay, The Boxcar Children too, but I definitely liked the ones written by the original author the best.
To me, something’s missing when a ghostwriter creates something, excluding perhaps autobiographies (I’ve never really read any so I don’t know). Writing something in six weeks isn’t crafting something. I won’t deny that it’s skillful, and probably a very interesting job, but it feels…cheap. Churning out these books with little substance to unknowing children. I mean, the Babysitter’s Club? Sweet Valley High? Barf-worthy. They are fluff. There are hundreds of children’s books out there written by the original author that are easy to read but contain…that higher something.
In an effort to explain what I mean by that, when I write fiction, though I rarely do, I’m invested in what I’m writing. I love the words and the ideas, and I really care about the entire process. It also takes me ages to write anything. I could not see myself writing over a hundred pages in a month–I can barely write ten in that time. But then again, those ten are good, on an amateur writer’s level, that is. They have passion, and care, and soul. Ghostwritten books lack that. The idea is not the writer’s own. He or she may be interested in the story, or interested in the audience that story will be read by, but I doubt many ghostwriters actually care that much.
When I was a kid, I hungered for quality. I’m sure most people in our class grew up with the Harry Potter books. Do you remember how excruciatingly wonderful it was waiting for each one to come out? I wouldn’t have been that excited about The Babysitter’s Club releasing a new book. Part of being a kid is that wonderful waiting feeling–the entire week leading up to Christmas, the last few days of school before summer starts, etc.
This is not to say that I’m demeaning a ghostwriter’s job. I understand entirely taking the job. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to it myself, although I think I’d find it wasn’t a good fit for me. I’m more opposed to the business of it all. Sure, making tons of money is awesome, but at the expense of children? Come on. Quality over quantity, always.