Ghosts in the Machine: Ghostwriters in Publishing

We get pretty snippy about ghostwriters in publishing. They are thanked profusely in the front of celebrity memoirs, but there is still a cachet in those non-fiction chart-clogging autobiographies being actually written by the subject themselves. It is authentic. It is the real deal. When I am handing over my money and selecting my gift, those books somehow have a greater perceived value.

What is strange is that in music, the chart-clogging equivalent seems to embrace the collaborative. It is part of the creative process. Singers and bands work with uber producers or writers, with Max Martin or Ryan Tedder or whoever has sprinkled the most magic dust in their studio recently, expecting that the results will be more successful precisely because it has been a team effort. Individually, you have talent. Together, you make a hit.

Maybe publishing will change. Witness the recent success of Roddy Doyle and Roy Keane, where 1 + 1 seems to equal 3. Or maybe ghostwriters will remain below the radar, anonymous but highly prized by publishers and ‘writers’ alike.

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