When during a televised skirmish President Reagan’s recently published memoirs came up, former president wryly remarked: ‘I hear it’s a terrific book. One of these days I am going to read it myself.’
Of course, the statesman hadn’t written his biography but he was hardly alone in employing a ghost-writer whose name never appears on a book’s cover. Interviewed by Vanity Fair about her autobiography, Ivana Trump warbled: ‘To my surprise, I find I have a great imagination. I don’t say I am the Shakespeare, but it’s not just about the beautiful people and the gorgeous yachts and the fabulous homes and lots of sex. I tried to put in more the feelings.’
It was a great sales spin but Ivana reportedly paid ghostwriter Camille Marchetta $350,000 to write For Love Alone.
Whatever the ethics involved in book editing (ghostwriting), Michael Walsh, who edits authors books for those who lack his writing flair, is matter-of-fact and asks: ‘Does anyone really believe that celebrities have the time or the skills needed to set down their life story?’
John Blake, of Blake Publishing, estimates that as many as 80 percent of celebrity books are ghosted. Lucie Cave who penned Jade Goody’s My Autobiography says; ‘It is a must-have accessory for anyone who has reached a certain level of fame. Obviously, these people cannot write their books themselves, so they need someone else to do it for them.’
The list of names adorning the spines of books is often impressive but their true authors are rarely known. Earl Conrad ghosted Errol Flynn’s My Wicked, Wicked Ways.
One would need to wade through 529 pages of Hilary Clinton’s autobiography to discover that her speechwriter was responsible for most of her biography.
In 1957 John F. Kennedy was accused of using a ghost for his Profiles of Courage and Why England Slept. Henry Ford’s My Philosophy of Industry (New York Coward McCann 1929) was written by Fay Faurote.
Many famous authors are heads of writers’ syndicates that churn out novels on an industrial scale. Some famous writers allow less well-known writers to use their names on the cover of their books ~ for a fee. These include Andrew Neiderman, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Naomi Campbell, and Clive Cussler. Clancy’s publishers say: ‘Tom Clancy creates the ideas for these series and the writers execute Clancy’s ideas. All are subject to his supervision.’
It is claimed that 40 percent of books are ghosted but is it ethical? Michael Walsh has helped scores of writers to bring their books up to retail standards:
‘If there were no co-writers there would be few books. We take advice in fixing our cars, having our photographs taken but why stop there?
‘There are hundreds of fascinating people with interesting stories to tell or experiences to pass on, but few who can bring life to them. If a co-writer achieves that then everyone benefits from the partnership.’
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