According to Google, a ghostwriter can be defined as:
“a writer who authors books, manuscripts, screenplays, scripts, articles, blog posts, stories, reports, whitepapers, or other texts that are officially credited to another person”
When I read a book part of me feels happy and, unfoundedly, proud for the author despite only knowing them by name. For a moment, I think about who they are, how hard they worked to put the book together and the joy they must have felt in getting to publish it for all to experience. However, when I find out that the name on the cover doesn’t match the name of the person who wrote the text, that part of me feels betrayed because of the unspoken contract between readers and authors that their work is their own. We grow up with the idea of plagiarism, such as this could be considered, being morally wrong yet here it is presented as profitable and acceptable. I am not against the idea of ghostwriters entirely, they obviously feel comfortable with the arrangement they are in and what harm is really done? Readers still get a book to read and writers are paid for the material they create. But ghostwriting a book removes the element of trust and belief a reader has in it and its creator as an unfair advantage is given to some authors over others who may have done all of the writing themselves instead of just slapping their name on the cover.
The release of Zoella’s book Girl Online last year is a prime example of a ghostwritten book that received a lot of criticism. As an Internet celebrity of sorts, Zoella gained a mass of fans in the way she presented herself. Her bubbly and girl-next-door personality made her likeable. In choosing to ghostwrite her book, this online personality gained a contradictory trait of being deceptive, which only went on to enrage the public through her lack of effort for substantial financial gain. With her book selling more copies in its first week that some of the Harry Potter series, the least that could be expected is that it would be genuine. Most of all what we want our money and gratitude to go towards when buying a novel or non-fiction text is those who deserve it. Therefore, when this value is tarnished we can’t help but feel unsatisfied and let down.
This also goes for ghostwriters on social media. Jobs have now been created to set up and maintain social media accounts for companies and individuals to keep them in the social spotlight. Now social media is of great interest to many, it is extendedly important for organisations and celebrities in particular, to interact with their audience in a receptive way, as personality is a large element of what sells an individual on a product or a person. In every instance you and I would be none the wiser to if a book, film or social media account was written by someone other than who we believe it to be as there is no way of knowing what goes on behind the scenes. What it all stems down to the question of how much people really care.
Do people mind if their favourite creators may not be deserving of the credit they receive?