Is ghost-writing unethical?

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Paul33, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. Paul33

    Paul33
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    Well-known celebrity pastor has a ghost writer write his books. Is this ethical?

    Would the buying public buy the book if they knew it was written by someone else?

    Is this fraud?

    I don't care that the non-Christian world has no problem with this, should Christians have a higher standard?

    Well known celebrity is considered a "product line" by the publisher, so it doesn't matter who writes the books as long as his name goes on the cover. Again, is this honest?
     
  2. rlvaughn

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    The use of ghost-writers seems to be a commonly accepted practice in the publishing world. But I wouldn't feel I was being honest or ethical if I put my name on a book someone else wrote.
     
  3. mioque

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    Nowadays ghostwritten books are usually co-written. 2 names go on the cover, the one that is least famous actually did almost all of the work. This at least somewhat honest.
     
  4. preachinjesus

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    I've ghost written some stuff for various high profile speakers. Usually the process is they give me the topic/subject or particular event they are speaking for. I develop the first draft, we dialogue about it, then I finish it up with his comments and ideas. I don't think its unethical at all since they are involved in the process. For longer works (i.e. books) we usually will get together and talk over the course of a day or two about the topic, I record everything, then take their insights and roll with them.
     
  5. Phillip

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    It is done all the time in the publishing industry. Ghost writing actually makes up a large percentage of a free-lance writer's work.

    Now, to be clear about this, free-lance writer will obtain the information and final approval and edits will be made by the person who's name is on the book.

    Most people do not have the grasp of the actual "technology" (for lack of a better word), to write a book that people can read and is easy to follow. (Remains interesting from page to page.) A good ghost-writer can format the words, paragraphs and chapters so that the book will be both readable and exciting to the customer.

    There is certainly a difference between ghost-writing and writing using a psuedonymn. For instance, Steven King wrote as Richard Bachman for years. This is different because Richard Bachman wasn't a "real" or "famous" person.

    Donald Trump's new book was probably written mostly by his helper and he does give he credit in the book.

    I think the most honest way of doing it is by saying the name with so-and-so (the ghost writer). Then most people realize that the person with the story had help with the actual writing.

    Actual writing is VERY hard and most people cannot do it. (really) This is the reason there are so few John Grishams and other best seller authors.

    Often a ghost-writer, working as a freelance, who gets the contract to write the book for someone. A good writer; however, will make certain that the material is really from the source.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    Been there, done that, not even mentioned in the "credits" of the book. But it is not unethical. They paid me very good money, then took my pages and reworked them as their own.

    Not unethical. Everyone has folks who do research, etc, and get little or no credit.
     
  7. Paul33

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    I think the person who does the majority of the work/writing ought to receive the credit.

    I guess when we fail to give credit to an author we quote, we shouldn't feel so bad, since they probably didn't write it either! [​IMG]
     
  8. Broadus

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    I've always been troubled by the concept of "ghost-written" books. The book sells because of the name of the celebrity. I realize there are many arguments used to justify (rationalize?) the arrangement, but it seems to be a matter of the end justifying the means.

    Having someone to do research is another matter. The author tells his researcher what he needs and utilizes that research in his work. The author should, of course, give proper credit to the researcher.

    I know of a situation in which an author basically used the writing of several doctoral students for his commentary on a particular book of the Bible. Some of the chapters were almost verbatim the work of the grad students. He is being lauded as making such a wonderful contribution to biblical scholarship. They were paid for their work by the author.

    The practice of naming the author "with" the writer is less problematic, and many books which before may have had the anonymous ghost writer are now being published with both names.

    Bill
     
  9. rlvaughn

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    I'm wondering if some of us are talking about varying degrees of "ghostwriters"? The dictionary defines one as "a writer who gives the credit of authorship to someone else". I would think most "ghostwriters" are doing more than the research behind the book - they are doing the actual writing. Now there may be interaction between the ghostwriter and the stated author, but I am under the impression that there a quite a few books that are written almost totally by a person other than the one named as the author. Is this correct? It seems that someone who has written a substantial portion of a book ought to at least get a "with".
     
  10. Paul33

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    I agree.

    If one pays for research, that still doesn't release him from giving credit to the researcher in a footnote.

    If one pays someone to flesh out his ideas and write the manuscript, he still isn't released from giving credit to the writer.

    I have no problem with the celebrity author's name on the cover (his ideas presumably) and the actual writer's name on the cover as well. We all know who did the majority, if not all, of the writing.

    But purely ghost written books are fraudulent. The buying public is being ripped off.

    Why not publish the book in the name of the ghost writer? Because the publisher won't make as much money. This is fraud, pure and simple.

    And since when does paying for something make it ethical?

    If I pay you to write my Ph.D. dissertation, is that ethical? Why not? It is no different than paying a ghost writer to write my book.
     
  11. Jeff Weaver

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    Bro. Robert

    Yes, there are varying degrees of ghosting. And there are books out there which are written totally by someone other than is on the credit line. Its been going on for centuries too. I've seen books written during the civil war period with latin phrases, but when one reads ordinary correspondence the fellow is barely literate.

    I know several ghostwriters, some for "Well known" Civil War authors, and many of them get paid better than those of us who publish under our own name. Probably true as well of those who ghost for big name religious characters as well.

    Ethical? Maybe, maybe not, I have mixed feelings. There are lots of people who publish under pseudonymns. Is that ethical? Maybe maybe not. For fiction, comics, children's works, etc., it doesn't bother me. For serious non-fiction, however, I prefer to know who is actually writing something. Now the question is, what is serious non-fiction?

    Jeff
     
  12. Paul33

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    I don't have a problem with pseudonymns.

    What I have a problem with is someone taking credit for work they didn't do!

    If it's plagiarism when you don't give credit for a quote, why is it not plagiarism when you don't give credit for a whole book!

    Add "with John Doe" to the cover and the problem is solved. So why isn't it done more often? Pride and money!

    And again, just because I pay someone well to write for me doesn't give me the right not to give credit where credit is due.

    If its ok to publish a book in my name that I haven't written, why isn't it ok to submit a dissertation that I haven't written?
     
  13. donnA

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    From what I understand the 'author' creates the topic of the book, story if it fiction, or does the research if it is non fiction, he just doesn't know ot write it all out. It is his thoughts and wrok behind it, somoeen else puts it together to make it readable and understandable. It isn't really the ghost writers book, the actual work on the book was done by the 'author', the ghost writer knows how to type, and arrange it in a decent suitable order. I would think (especially in non fiction, like on lioving the christian life, or bible studies which seems to be the question here) the ghost writer isn't necessarily adding to the some total of the book, to it's meanings or anything. Plus they are usually better at english, which is one reason a lot of authors use them. Even chrsitan publishers want the books to have good english and put together in an orderly fashion.
    So not I don't think it's a bit dishonest.
     
  14. Paul33

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    What you describe makes sense. It would be more like an editor. Alot of authors add a tag line, with Jane Doe, meaning, Jane Doe did the writing, but the content is the authors.

    So why can't everyone do that when someone else does the actual writing?
     
  15. AVL1984

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    I don't believe it is unethical in the least. Most ghostwriters are paid, and just like anyone who is working for money, they are getting their due. Now, is it dishonest on the part of the one listed as "author"? I wouldn't think so. They definitely have their part in the book/article, etc.

    I don't believe it's dishonest to write under a pen name either. There's no compromise unless it is to intentionally defame someone or something.
     

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