Ghostwriting - Contracted Plagiarism?
A Write Now with Terri DelCampo Blog
I personally know a writer who has contracted to ghost write novels on several occasions in the past. Harried writers who, for whatever reason couldn't fill their novel writing quota at a given time contracted his words. And some big names, too. Big names who, in the name of sickness, or a death in the family, or conflicting schedules, submitted manuscripts that they didn't write.
Perhaps it's just thoroughly ingrained in me that one does not publish, submit, or claim even a sentence that they didn't write completely themselves. From the time of my earliest reports done in third and fourth grade, the teachers vehemently enforced the no plagiarism rule and punishments were stiff if they found out that someone swiped a word of someone else's work.
And they were right to ingrain that respect for others' property into their students.
But what of ghost writers?
"Well, they contracted the work out, they were hired to do a job and they did it," you say. And I guess that's one way to look at it.
My question is, why would you want to buy someone else's words and ideas and claim them as your own? And on the other side of that coin, why would you want to let someone else take credit for your ideas?
There's one example that stands out in my mind, and if this had happened to me it would have eaten me alive, whether I was the writer or the ghostwriter.
The ghostwriter contracted his manuscript to a popular writer, and it sold well and received critical acclaim. Not just ordinary good reviews, which to me would have been hard enough to swallow - that some writer was taking credit for and gloating over the reviews he was getting on my ideas, my work - but the book got the Bram Stoker Award that year.
That to me, is a deal breaker right there. All bets should be off if a book receives awards. I can't imagine walking up onto a stage and receiving an award, making an acceptance speech and carting that award home to place it on my mantle knowing full well I didn't do the work to earn it. Every time I looked at that award, I would feel like a liar; a fraud. And what's worse, I would know that I was cheating some other writer out of their deserved recognition, that the readers should be following them and not me. Every compliment, ever clap on the back, every autograph request would ring hollow. I would feel like a hypocrite.
And I would be right.
While everyone must earn a living, sometimes it really isn't, nor should it be, about the money. If you don't have time to write that second novel this year, then collaborate. But when it comes time to put a byline on a book, your name should only appear on your work.
My fourth grade English teacher will back me up on that.
TD - 8/15/15