A huge number of non-writers have “written” and published books. No doubt about it. Most of you will recognize the term “ghost writer” as the name of the professional who puts the story of the non-writer together. That is the best and most expensive way of getting your book written and ultimately published. (However, be cautioned: even obtaining the services of a professional writer who does his or her utmost on behalf of your story does not guarantee acceptance by a major publishing house, especially not in such difficult economic times. The way around this is self publication or submission to a smaller house.)
Does the ghost writer receive recognition? Only in the form of payment from the person to whom the story “belongs.” Think of the 1947 film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. The screenplay was adapted by Philip Dunne, co-founder of the Screenwriters Guild, from the novel allegedly penned by R.A. Dick. The ghost dictated his memoirs and Mrs. Muir claimed sole authorship. Someone, I would imagine Dick, had fun with the concept of the ghost writer.
What if a non-writer does not have the funds to attain the services of a professional ghost writer? That is what Tina, in the bus, asked me.
I had ideas for her:
- Take a creative writing class at a local community college and start writing your book that way. The teacher will have to help you. Make sure the teacher is on board with this project before the drop deadline so you can get your money back just in case.
- Approach the Humanities department at your local college and ask to speak with a few different writing teachers (not necessarily those teaching creative writing—they may be academic writing teachers of English 1A, etc.) These teachers may be able to recommend their most talented students, whom you will then have to approach for paid help. The objective here is to get a good writer to help you for less money.
- Try to find a professional writer and make a different sort of offer: double billing for half the royalties. If your story is good enough, why not, and who knows? If you cannot entice a professional local writer (writing teachers who are also professional writers are good choices) with your talented telling, then your story isn’t fascinating enough to be made into a book.