I’ve been contacted by a few people recently about ghostwriting their novels. I’d like to take this opportunity to give a loud and collective, “No, thank you,” to anyone who is looking to have this type of work done, and if you read on, you’ll learn why.
It has been assumed that I won’t ghostwrite fiction for reasons rooted in envy (maybe I won’t be able to stomach seeing someone else get the credit for my work). Much to the contrary, the true reason is ethics. When I pick up a work of non-fiction, I assume that the author’s profession is that which is stated in the text and on the cover. When I pick up a novel, I believe that I am reading the work of a writer — someone whose cherished mode of communication is the written word, and whose knack for storytelling has been honed with exercise, sacrifice, and dedication to the art. Just as I hope that my surgeon is not a Frank Abagnale, Jr. wanna-be, I’d like to believe that fiction writers are just what they claim to be.
You’ll notice that even in mass media, professionals who put out non-fiction works are not called writers as much as they’re called authors. There is a difference. Authors author books. Writers write books. Both deserve proper recognition; however, this proves that the public does carry certain assumptions, one of them being that novelists are writers.
Even without the phone introduction or the email subject line, these people (those requesting that fiction be written for them) are easy to spot. They call the prospective works “fictional novels,” want the work done in a month, and/or cannot resist communicating in texting shorthand. These people don’t love language. They have no idea how to tell a story. They simply want a part of that dream in the sky that begs people to believe that anyone can be J.K. Rowling for $500 (Don’t even get me started with that).
I find fiction difficult, if not painful, to write; however, I know that if I keep working on it, I’ll get better. I think this is true of every writer, no matter at which mile marker they’re staring. I would beg those who want a novel written to at least attempt to learn the craft — to direct the passion they feel for the story they’ve devised toward learning to tell that story. A common declaration in many writers’ biographies involves a tough time in school with language, or a teacher who assumed they would never build a cohesive sentence. Toil accomplishes far more than talent ever will in this realm. I beg you, If you have a story to tell, take your paces, run your laps, do your push-ups…and tell it in your own words. Even if it takes a lifetime, it will be yours.
I think ads like this post’s heading are just as unethical as requests for academic writing (I admire Kana’s covert solution to her academic assignment). Of course, not everyone feels this way. That’s what makes us unique and keeps us thinking and evolving. If you have an opinion on this matter, I’d love to hear it. I feel compelled to understand why anyone would want another person to write fiction for them (barring greed).