Monday, September 15, 2008

Haunted Houses: Ghostwriting and Christian Publishing

Someone who writes for someone else without getting credit for the work is called a ghostwriter. While this is a common practice in the world of publishing, ghostwriting is a particularly egregious moral failing when it occurs within Christian publishing.

If ghostwriting involves deception, and if deception is morally wrong, then ghostwriting is morally wrong.

That is my stance both as a writer and moral philosopher. Biblically it is clear that truth is valued, while dishonesty is not. Ghostwriting by definition is dishonest.

Yet the practice of ghostwriting continues within Christian publishing, of all places. Why? First, some people probably really do not see anything wrong with it. Second, there is a financial factor involved coupled with the Christian celebrity mentality. Big names sell books, but big names can't always write. Third, ghostwriting is sometimes seen as expedient, particularly under deadline pressures. Fourth, the problem is perpetuated by ghostwriters who take the jobs. Fifth, the person whose name ends up being on the cover of a ghostwritten book is also morally culpable.

The solution is to stop the practice of ghostwriting. Allow the writer to collaborate with the author, giving the writer a "with" or "and" credit on the book, as well as better contractual terms.

But let's cut out this deceptive nonsense of having someone else write a book, then stamp another person's name on the cover. It's simply unethical.

1 comment:

Ben Mordecai said...

I agree with you here.

The whole process gets even more complicated.

Mel White ghost wrote books for Jerry Faldwell, Pat Robertson, and Billy Graham before coming out of the closet and admitting unrepentantly that he is homosexual.

A complete mess.