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Ghostwriters: Who Are They And What Do They Do?

Nov 23, 2021

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A book is not always written by the person whose name is on the cover. Authors have plenty of assistants. Speechwriters write public speeches. Advertising texts are written by copywriters or content marketers. Books and articles are increasingly written by ghostwriters.

A ghostwriter is a person who writes articles or books on behalf of others (for others) or participates in writing, although this participation is hidden. Therefore, such an assistant is often called a ghost. Readers are usually unable to guess who is hiding under the cover – the real author or a ghostwriter.

Ghostwriters are hard to catch 

According to statistics, to create a full-fledged book, one needs to work for at least six months. Thus, if a writer publishes three novels a year – the authorship may well be questioned. But it is quite difficult to establish exactly who owns the “pen-writing”. There is special linguistic expertise that can determine the authenticity of the author by comparing, for example, his known vocabulary and the text being checked. However, any writing can be easily stylized as simple as basic proofreading. And since it is impossible to prove the deception, the commercially successful authors, without hesitation use the minds of the ghostwriters.

The system of collaboration between the three parties – the publishing house, the writer, and the ghostwriter, is extremely simple and has not changed over the years. The writer comes up with an idea, the function of the publishing house is to find the most reliable ghostwriters for high-quality execution of the order, and, finally, the task of the ghost is to create a work according to a given plot. As a rule, several people write the book to move the work faster. An ordinary novel may be written by as many as 10 ghostwriters, so the total fee comes out pretty decent, but if you divide it among all the ghosts – it becomes ridiculously low.

You can’t write alone

In the twenty-first century, you cannot write alone. In the age of knowledge and technology, even venerable authors do not hesitate to resort to the help of editors, consultants, beta readers, and again editors. Eminent persons, having no time to write themselves, limit their work to taking notes – the rest is composed and written by ghostwriters. The origins of such a literary division of labor are in the nineteenth century. A fascinating example in this economy and at the same time the artistic industry was set by Alexander Dumas, who wrote either three or six hundred volumes (researchers are still calculating) with the active participation of a team of assistants.

The twenty-first century is the century of the worldwide spread of technology. Verbal art is no longer alone – the time has come for collective creativity. However, under the control of the creator, the author, the leader, the director, who sets the rhythm of the group work in the same way as the conductor of the orchestra directs the play of each individual musician.

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The expression “ghostwriter”, denoting the real authors, whose names are a secret behind seven seals, indeed, came into use as early as the 19th century. In America, they’ve got their second name – slave writers. However, over time, not only the names have changed, but also the attitude towards the “slaves”. Nowadays, they are treated a little more respectfully. Their names can still be seen, if not on the cover, but in small print on the last page of the column “art editor”.

As a rule, young talents – students of literary colleges and English majors, feel positive about their “slave” work, because some want to get hard, but quick money, while others – just get their hands on it. 

The only problem is successful employment at a publishing house. Publishers cannot openly advertise the recruitment of “slaves”; hence one can only find veiled vacancies on the Internet. They look something like this: “A writer is required. The ability to instantly grasp the idea of ​​a text passage and write a continuation is a must.” Those who want to become the shadow of a popular writer would respond to such bait.

However, there are real professionals among the “slaves” who feed exclusively on this work. They clearly divide their work into two completely unrelated parts. For the money, they compose “moronic crap” or “trash” read. While under the table, they tremulously keep a masterpiece written from the heart, which is waiting for its finest hour and a publisher with real money.

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