Secrets of Successful Writers: Authors speak about writing and publishing in the digital age

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This is largely considered unethical unless the actual ghostwriting work is just light editing. Ghostwriters are hired for numerous reasons. In many cases, celebrities or public figures do not have the time, discipline, or writing skills to write and research a several hundred page autobiography or "how-to" book.

Even if a celebrity or public figure has the writing skills to pen a short article, they may not know how to structure and edit a several hundred page book so that it is captivating and well-paced. In other cases, publishers use ghostwriters to increase the number of books that can be published each year under the name of well-known, highly marketable authors, or to quickly release a topical book that ties in with a recent or upcoming newsworthy event.


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Ghostwriters will often spend from several months to a full year researching, writing, and editing nonfiction and fiction works for a client, and they are paid based on a price per hour, per word or per page, with a flat fee, a percentage of the royalties of the sales, or some combination thereof. One such market is the shorter book, best represented at the moment by Amazon's Kindle Singles imprint: texts of 30, words and under. Writers on the level of Ian McEwan have celebrated this recent change, mainly for artistic reasons.

It was once financially impractical for publishers to produce such novella-length texts they would have to charge too much ; but this new market is, by , already substantial and has been projected to be a solid part of the future of book publishing. On the upper end of the spectrum, with celebrities that can all but guarantee a publisher large sales, the fees can be much higher.


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There is also the consideration of different benchmarks in different countries. Research fees are an extra charge on top of this minimum fee. A recent availability also exists, of outsourcing many kinds of jobs, including ghostwriting, to offshore locations like India, China, and the Philippines where the customer can save money.

In some cases, ghostwriters are allowed to share credit. Sometimes this is done in lieu of pay or in order to decrease the amount of payment to the book ghostwriter for whom the credit has its own intrinsic value. Also, the ghostwriter can be cited as a co-author of a book, or listed in the movie or film credits when having ghostwritten the script or screenplay for film production.

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For nonfiction books, the ghostwriter may be credited as a "contributor" or a "research assistant". In other cases, the ghostwriter receives no official credit for writing a book or article; in cases where the credited author or the publisher or both wish to conceal the ghostwriter's role, the ghostwriter may be asked to sign a nondisclosure contract that legally forbids any mention of the writer's role in a project. Some have made the distinction between "author" and "writer", as ghostwriter Kevin Anderson explains in a Washington Post interview: "A ghostwriter is an interpreter and a translator, not an author, which is why our clients deserve full credit for authoring their books.

Ghostwriters are widely used by celebrities and public figures who wish to publish their autobiographies or memoirs.


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The degree of involvement of the ghostwriter in nonfiction writing projects ranges from minor to substantial. Various sources explain the role of the ghostwriter and how competent writers can get this kind of work. In some cases, a ghostwriter may be called in just to clean up, edit, and polish a rough draft of an autobiography or a "how-to" book.

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In other cases, the ghostwriter will write an entire book or article based on information, stories, notes, an outline, or interview sessions with the celebrity or public figure. The credited author also indicates to the ghostwriter what type of style, tone, or "voice" they want in the book. In some cases, such as with some "how-to" books, diet guides, or cookbooks, a book will be entirely written by a ghostwriter, and the celebrity e.

Publishing companies use this strategy to increase the marketability of a book by associating it with a celebrity or well-known figure. In several countries before elections, candidates commission ghostwriters to produce autobiographies for them so as to gain visibility and exposure. Two of John F. Kennedy 's books are almost entirely credited to ghostwriters. A consultant or career-switcher may pay to have a book ghostwritten on a topic in their professional area, to establish or enhance their credibility as an "expert" in their field.

For example, a successful salesperson hoping to become a motivational speaker on selling may pay a ghostwriter to write a book on sales techniques. Often this type of book is published by a self-publishing press or " vanity press " , which means that the author is paying to have the book published.

This type of book is typically given away to prospective clients as a promotional tool, rather than being sold in bookstores. Ghostwriters are employed by fiction publishers for several reasons. In some cases, publishers use ghostwriters to increase the number of books that can be published each year by a well-known, highly marketable author.

Ghostwriters are mostly used to pen fiction works for well-known "name" authors in genres such as detective fiction, mysteries, and teen fiction. Additionally, publishers use ghostwriters to write new books for established series where the "author" is a pseudonym. Dixon ", respectively, are actually pseudonyms for a series of ghostwriters who write books in the same style using a template of basic information about the book's characters and their fictional universe names, dates, speech patterns , and about the tone and style that are expected in the book for more information, see the articles on pseudonyms or pen name s.

In addition, ghostwriters are often given copies of several of the previous books in the series to help them match the style. The estate of romance novelist V. Andrews hired ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman to continue writing novels after her death, under her name and in a similar style to her original works.

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Many of action writer Tom Clancy 's books from the s bear the names of two people on their covers, with Clancy's name in larger print and the other author's name in smaller print. Various books bearing Clancy's name were written by different authors under the same pseudonym. Sometimes famous authors will ghostwrite for other celebrities as well, such as when H. Pascendi , for instance, was written by Joseph Lemius — , the procurator in Rome of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

There are ghostwriting companies [23] and freelancers [24] that sell entrance essays, term papers, theses and dissertations to students. Such services are sometimes offered by what is referred to as essay mills and frequently transacted through online interfaces. Although academic ghostwriting involves the sale of academic texts that are written on demand, it cannot be equated with plagiarism , since it does not involve an undisclosed appropriation of existing texts. As opposed to cases of plagiarism that stem from a copy-and-paste reuse of previous work, essays and assignments that are obtained through ghostwriting services as a rule have the originality of their text confirmed by plagiarism detection software packages or online services that are widely used by universities.

Universities have developed strategies to combat this type of academic services, which can be associated with academic fraud , that are offered to students and researchers. Some universities allow professors to give students oral examinations on papers which a professor believes to be 'ghostwritten. With medical ghostwriting, pharmaceutical companies pay professional writers to produce papers and then pay other scientists or physicians to attach their names to these papers before they are published in medical or scientific journals.

Medical ghostwriting has been criticized by a variety of professional organizations [29] [30] representing the drug industry, publishers, and medical societies, and it may violate American laws prohibiting off-label promotion by drug manufacturers as well as anti-kickback provisions within the statutes governing Medicare. It is permitted at some institutions, including the University of Washington School of Medicine , [34] [35] while it is prohibited and considered a particularly pernicious form of plagiarism at others, such as Tufts University School of Medicine.

Professional medical writers can write papers without being listed as authors of the paper and without being considered ghostwriters, provided their role is acknowledged.