Investigated – Ghost Writers and Co-authors

Posted April 7, 2014 by Emily in Investigated / 6 Comments


The two of these have something in common. They are both writers who don’t get all the credit they deserve.

Ghost Writers
Ghost writers are writers who write under the name of a different author. They are not to be confused as authors who use pen names and pseudonyms. Authors who use pen names are still writing as themselves and they will receive the credit for their own works. Ghost writers on the other hand, are writing under the name of a different person and that person will get the credit whether they want it or not. Their job is to write a book, but act like a ghost. An example of some books that are written by ghost writers are the most recent Vampire Diaries novels. While the first few are written by L.J. Smith, the ones that just got published weren’t written by her but are still published under her name because she lost the right to keep writing them herself.

A lot of times co-authors don’t get the credit they deserve either. Sure, sometimes that’s not the case, but many times it is. Co-authors are exactly what the name implies, an author who helps another write books. The sad part about this that while sometimes books written by co-authors can be really well written, a lot of times only the most popular author receives the credit. For example, if I asked you who wrote the Confessions series, most people will say James Patterson, but forget about his co-author Maxine Paetro. I’m not saying it’s entirely his fault that he gets most of the credit for writing the books, but it’ll be nice if she is acknowledged as well.

Long story short is that pay attention to who wrote your book if you really like it. Make sure it was solely that author before giving them all the credit. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen or heard people saying how good a writer an author is just because of a book written by a ghost writer or with a co-author (who seems to not exist). Everyone works hard to get the words of the stories you love into the pages of the books you enjoy. Don’t give one person all the credit when a whole team deserves it.

What do you think?
Have you ever read books written by ghost authors?
Have you ever forgotten about co-authors?



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6 responses to “Investigated – Ghost Writers and Co-authors

  1. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book by a ghost writer, but I’ve definitely read a couple with forgotten co-writers. In middle school, one of my favorite series was the Witch and Wizard Series by James Patterson, but I didn’t notice until recently that he wrote all the books with co-authors (a different co-author for each book, in fact!) It really bothered me because his name was huge, while the co-author’s name was so small I barely noticed it. I also read somewhere that the way James Patterson co-authors books is by telling the other co-author an idea, and then letting them write the story, which seems like an unfair amount of work– especially when they get less credit.

    • That situation with James Patterson is actually what made me want to write about this topic. I agree, it’s completely unfair that his name is bigger, even he is more well known. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    • Those are really good questions that I’m not completely sure about. The only reason I even know about ghost writers is because I used to be obsessed with LJ Smith and she blogged about how a ghost writer was the one writing the more recent VD books and she had no control. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    • Often if the book is ghost written if you look on the copyright page there will be a line like “With special thanks to ‘name here'”. This isn’t always the case, but if there’s a special thanks on the copyright page than it’s usually a good indicator

  2. Francine Pascal comes to mind for me. All those Sweet Valley books. When I was younger I did wonder how it was that she could write so much. Then I learnt about ghost writers. For pop culture series like that, I’m fine knowing that ghost writers wrote them. The brand lies in the name and if every ghost writer was credited as an author, it would’ve been even more confusing to find these books in the library as a kid.

    As for co-authors, I agree that not all of them get the credit. This is especially the case when celebrities decide to write books and have a co-author to help them. The celebrity name sells the book and the co-author becomes an afterthought. I think that’s sad.