The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
(John Steinbeck)

ghost-writing

Ghost-writing, loosely defined as “hiring a professional writer paid to write books, articles, stories, or reports which are officially credited to another person,” offers up a rich menu of moral puzzlers about authenticity, duplicity, and the “capitalismizing” of literature (that is, the capitalist practice of extracting profit from the labor of others applied to creating books).

My understanding of the process falls somewhere between a high-minded refusal to ghostwrite and The Beatles’ ever-flexible Paperback Writer (“I can make it longer if you like the style/I can change it ’round...”) As long as the project is about helping someone tell a story or make a statement that that person does not have the skill or time to tell, then I am all for providing what assistance I can, credited or uncredited.

However, there is a limit: I would never ghostwrite something for a fraudulent purpose, such as when pharmaceutical companies concoct a “study” under multiple authors to give an appearance of inevitability to the study's findings, which usually promote the companies’ products. (Physicians or scientists from academia have been known to sell their names for use as authors on papers that they have not written.) Nor would I write for any “academic mill” that churns out papers for sale to students.

Short of fraudulence, I am open to working on any project with any writer. My process for ghost-writing is simple: through conversations, research, notes, outlines, and any other information-hunting we do together, I put myself as much as possible into being who you are and writing from that sensibility.

Michael Bettencourt,
Content Producer

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