Monday, September 17, 2007

"Written with ..."

I got a chuckle out of a Gary Burbank "little news" item today, about an athelete who was questioned about a statement in his autobiography. (Gary's the afternoon guy on WLW.) When called out on an embarrassing passage in the book, the athelete blurted out, "I was misquoted!"

This, in an autobiography--a book he had alledgedly written by himself.

Obviously, the book was ghosted. And either the athlete was misquoted, or he changed his mind about the statement.

Such things frequently happen when you mix writers and non-writers. Similar things happen when you get too many writers involved in a book, and don't let the guy who wrote most of the book and did most of the research have a final look before publication. I've had this happen to me more than once.

How frequently do books get ghost-written, and how often do books carry names of people who didn't write them? More often than you might think. I can give you a long list of soi-disant "entreprenurs," business gurus, scientists, and even a few novelists who didn't write books with their names on them. I've written some. Among others, I've ghosted a famous science fiction author's novel and collaborated with a dead man.

Non-authors end up listed as "authors" for any of several reasons. Often the appearance of a name on a book's cover happens for the same reason that so-and-so is listed as "Executive Producer" or with a similar title in film credits: the person in question was involved in financing the film.

I'll talk more about ghostwriting and collaborating in future posts, but bear in mind that when you see two or three names as authors of a book, it's almost always the last name who did the work.

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