AGENCY INSIDER: GHOSTING FOR THE GREATER GOOD

"Ghosting" gets a bad rap when it comes to personal relationships, and rightly so. But professionally, "ghosting" can be a great game-changer, especially for entrepreneurs and executives who aspire to become authors. Today, Milli Brown and COO Tom Reale are giving you an inside look at ghostwriting and the critical role ghostwriters play in bringing big ideas to life.   

Many books, so many books, have been authored by exceptionally talented and impressive executives and public figures. They just weren’t written by them. When you think about it, this arrangement absolutely makes sense. When you get sick or hurt, you might administer some medicine to yourself, or bandage yourself. But when you need to go to the next level you go the doctor. You might change the oil or add radiator fluid to your own car, but next-level requirements will send you to a mechanic or dealership.

Who among us would expect the president of a major Fortune 500 company to have the skill set of someone with a PhD in literature? By the same token, who would expect a credentialed journalist with decades of experience writing for a top U.S. newspaper to have the same skill set as a prominent U.S. prosecutor? Both of the teams I describe here are actual pairs: author and ghostwriter, ghostwriter and author, for whom it has been my absolute pleasure to publish.

Do you really think Hillary Clinton wrote Hard Choices? Her authorship of It Takes a Village came under criticism in the mid-1990’s for not providing enough credit to Georgetown journalism professor Barbara Feinman, who wrote most of the text. What was scandalous 20 years ago is passé today. The public (or at least the media) have come to understand that people running for president don’t have the time to write a book! But here’s the thing: there is no one but a presidential candidate who can convey their own perspective. And there is no skill but that of a highly qualified writer who can interpret that perspective into book form.

Even in the fiction world this is not unheard of, although it is fairly rare. In a recently published edition of the Star Wars trilogy, George Lucas acknowledged in his foreword that the novelization of Star Wars: A New Hope was ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster, who went on to write many novels within that universe. This, too, follows completely. George Lucas is a visionary film director, and Alan Dean Foster is an accomplished novelist. Each applied their craft to the same story: the rest is history.

I have been proud over the years to be involved in some top-flight ghostwriting projects, as a key part of our publishing program. My reason is simple: without it, many of the highly acclaimed books that we have published would never have been. And it would have disappointed me to see so many important perspectives, so many incredible stories, go untold over the years. There is a special satisfaction that comes from watching a well-paired author-ghostwriter team in action. We work with the best. It might cost a little more, but it makes life so much easier for everyone.  We are as exclusive about our authors as we are about our ghostwriters. I should know: this article was ghostwritten by my Chief Operating Officer, Tom Reale




 


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