Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spotlight on "Ghosts"


To me, one of those funny things about the publishing media is the "ghost writer." I understand the thinking behind it. Famous people (politicians, actors, nuts, etc.) can sell books simply by putting their names on it. So, the publishers toss money to the celebrity for their name, and then hire someone else to write the books. For whatever reason, everyone else thinks it's just a wink-wink-nod-nod type of thing that doesn't matter. However, I've actually been in the position of "ghost writer" on some things in the past, and while I knew what I was doing, it has always bothered me that someone else gets to claim credit for the work I did. I'm also just cynical enough at this point to never believe any politician or celebrity ever writes their own books. I am, however, willing to at least give due to the "autobiographical" books in that I honestly think those books are usually more of a collaboration between the celebrity and the author. Heh. Although even then, there are exceptions. When Hillary Clinton supposedly wrote her life story, I remember a TV interview where she couldn't "remember" things she had "said" in her own book. But can I just say that my road to cynicism began when I discovered that John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize winning book PROFILES IN COURAGE had actually been written by Theodore Sorenson. To me, that's just outright lying to claim authorship of something you didn't write...and especially something as profoundly resonant as that book. Then, to discover over my life how many books I thought were authored by one person were actually written by someone else. For example, who wrote STAR WARS? George Lucas? Well, that's what it says on every edition I've ever seen of the novel STAR WARS (actually originally subtitled FROM THE ADVENTURES OF LUKE SKYWALKER). But no, it was written by Alan Dean Foster.

Anyway, over the years of my disgust, I've gotten to where I play a little game whenever I walk in a bookstore and see a new novel "written" by a celebrity. The game is: FIND THE REAL AUTHOR. In recent years, it has become a bit easier because the less egotistical of the celebrities will allow the ghost writer(s) to share credit on the cover (i.e., William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens). But it is still a rampant practice to hog all the credit for the celebrity when he (or she) probably never wrote one word. That's where the game comes in. Digging through the always lengthy acknowledgements requires some skill to sift and shake until the true author's name finally pops up.
This first installment is for Mr. Glenn Beck's new novel THE OVERTON WINDOW, a political thriller, from the massively popular but also incredibly irritating radio host. Well, let's see....digging through Beck's b.s. takes us to special thanks to first his Viewers, Listeners, and his "Insiders" (who I guess are people who actually pay money to the idiot to get even more garbage from him than his radio show, tv show, and free web presence). Then he declares that they are not racists. What? Then he thanks his poor, unfortunate wife, kids, and some other radio folk. Ah, now he gets to thanking his editor and staff at his publisher Simon and Shuster. That's good...but still no clue as to the actual writer. Did Beck actually write his own novel? No way. Let's turn the page on his incessant acknowledgements...
Page 2. Ugh. Now he's thanking the people that syndicate his radio show and then praising Fox News Network. Blah blah blah. Then a bunch more thanks listing people but not singling one out. What? This can't be right. Let me go back to page 1 and check again....ah. Hahaha. There it is. I actually missed it on first scan. Here it is. One sentence between his family and the editor, he writes: "JACK HENDERSON for pouring his heart and soul into this project. And to Jack's wife, LORI, for letting him."

The nebulous thanks is always the true author. Usually it says something more along the lines of "Without whom this project would never have happened..." or "I couldn't have done it without you..." That sort of thing.

So...hats off to ghost JACK HENDERSON, author of THE OVERTON WINDOW. Hope you get your due in attention and money for this sure to be an instant best-seller.


My new resume' for your perusal and consideration. Thank you.

1 comment:

Thank you for your feedback! I always appreciate it.