Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Boo! Who's Scared of Ghostwriting?

I know you probably have never thought about becoming a ghostwriter. In fact, if you are just beginning your writing journey, you may not even know much about them. Well, I'm here to break it down for you. A ghostwriter is a writer who writes a book for someone else and gives them the glory. Sound glamorous?

Okay, maybe not. But ghostwriting can pay the bills. There are may big names in ABA and CBA who have used ghostwriters. James Patterson and Tom Clancy, just to name a couple for ABA. I know of some in CBA, but I'm bound into silence (my dad is a ghostwriter).  Sometimes big name authors have a great idea, but can't write a well written book. Or they may not have the time and a publisher is wanting a certain type of book. There are many reasons why authors use them.

According to Wikipedia, compensation for ghostwriting varies:

Literary agent Madeleine Morel states that the average ghostwriter's advance for work for major publishers is "between $30,000 and $100,000"[2] In 2001, the New York Times stated that the fee that the ghostwriter for Hillary Clinton's memoirs will receive is probably about $500,000" of her book's $8 million advance, which "is near the top of flat fees paid to collaborators."[3]
According to Ghostwriters Ink, a professional ghostwriting service, this flat fee is usually closer to an average of $12,000 to $28,000 per book. By hiring the ghostwriter for this negotiated price, the clients ultimately keep all advances and post-publishing royalties and profits for themselves.[4] In Canada, The Writers' Union has established a minimum fee schedule for ghostwriting. The total minimum fee for a 200-300 page book is $25,000, paid at various stages of the drafting of the book. Research fees are an extra charge on top of this minimum fee.[5] In Germany the average fee for a confidential ghostwriting service is about $100.00 per page.[6].

Getting credit for your work can be just as varied. Sometimes a ghostwriter is given credit on the cover...in small print. Other times you might find the author giving credit to the ghostwriter in the acknowledgements or on the thank you page. The ghostwriter may not get any credit at all. All of this is decided before the contract is signed.

You might be interested to know that the music industry uses ghostwriters too. Mozart is widely known to have ghostwritten scores for wealthy patrons. Politicians use ghostwriters for speeches and correspondence. Company blogs have been known to use ghostwriters for their submissions and even have them to post comments. Interesting, isn't it?

What are your thoughts on ghostwriting? I've heard some speak their doubts about it being ethical. What do you think?



Sarah Forgrave said...

Very interesting, Sherrinda! The thing that I'm wondering about is the writer's voice. How does the ghostwriter write a book that sounds like it's the front-cover author's voice? That could be challenging.

Heather Sunseri said...

I've always been curious about ghostwriters. Thanks for the info.

Linda Kage said...

I think I might just have to look into a new career choice. But 30K to 100K??? That sounds awesome to me. Plus I don't much like standing in the spotlight, so taking a back seat while someone else did all the yucky promo stuff actually sounds kinda nice.

Thanks for the info. What a neat post.

patti said...

Wow! I really didn't know much about ghostwriting but can think of several writer friends who both enjoy it and feel that it is using God's talents to help others get their stories out.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I ghost wrote a story for a man who lost both arms in a farming accident several years ago, and it was recently published in an anthology. Because everyone in our town knows this gentleman, the book has been very popular here.

I don't see a problem with this type of writing, unless the person whose name is on the book tells the ghost writer's illustrations and anecdotes as if they were their own, like in an interview or sermon. That gets iffy, in my opinion.

I'm dealing with an ethical issue on my blog today, too.