Saturday, January 20, 2007


I am one of at least seventy-five Christian novelists who have become increasingly concerned and dismayed about the practice of ghostwritten novels. Though most publishers do not do this, we know the practice is ongoing in the Christian publishing industry (because some of us have been offered these jobs), and we believe the situation is deceptive, a form of false advertising, and ultimately demeaning to the work God has called us to do.

Erickson’s Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology defines honesty as “truthfulness, openness, and fairness in all of one’s representations and business dealings.” Scripture tells us: “False weights and unequal measures—the Lord detests double standards of every kind” (Prov. 20:10). Ghostwritten novels deceive the book buying public, and scandals arise when it occurs even in the secular marketplace. Why should it be condoned in the Christian publishing industry?

What are we talking about? A ghostwritten novel lists one person as the author when someone else has actually written the book. It’s tantamount to plastering one of our names on a Picasso painting and taking full credit (and the sales price) when we don’t know the first thing about painting. Even if one of us said, “Picasso, why don’t you paint a one-eyed blue man?”, that’s not enough. Even if we supplied the paint, that’s still not enough to take full credit for work we didn’t do. Even if we paid Picasso for his labor, that still doesn’t give us the right to claim that we created the painting.

We are not talking about dual author teams where one person supplies ideas and research and another does the writing. We’ve seen many of these duos in recent years, and we have no complaint when the writers’ name is listed with a partner’s. We trust that they have come to an equitable arrangement to share the work, the reward, and the responsibility.

Our concern is with the purely ghostwritten novel. A novel is an art form that arises after years of work and studying the craft. We are committed to excellence in our fiction, and we write to glorify God. For a publisher to propose that a novel be cranked out, stamped with a celebrity’s name, and sold to an unsuspecting public demeans our work and dishonors our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Truth and tells the Truth.



Pamela S. Meyers said...

I so agree with you! I just read Robin Lee Hatcher's blog and she pretty much shared the same thing. This has always irked me and I've questioned how as Christians writers can do this.

When I was asked by a man from my church if I would be interested in writing a book about his life for him as a ghostwriter I told him no. I then explained why, listing many of the same reasons you and Robin have stated in your blogs.
I hope the publishers are listing!


Suzanne said...

I also agree with you! I think that the work someone does (in any field) should be accredited to the person who did it. If I spent months writing a book I don't think any amount of money would make me want to let someone else stick their name on it!

eva said...

I've always felt uncomfortable with the idea of "ghostwritten" books. I don't think I could have expressed that feeling quite the same way you did.

On a slightly separate note...are you going to do BOMs again? I enjoyed reading those and catching up on books of yours that either I haven't read or learning about the process for the ones that I have.


Angela said...

Yep. I'll start another BOM on Feb. 1.


Lillie Ammann said...

I totally agree that a book, column, or article should not be written by one person but show someone else as the author. However, I have several clients who have me actually write something for them - especially articles. In every case, however, I have the person whose name will appear on the article either give me a written draft or dictate to me what they want to say. I will transcribe what they say and heavily edit it, but I never create the material from scratch. The work is always the author's with a lot of help from me. Using a ghostwriter to write a book that is published by a Christian publisher as being written by someone else is not right.

Andrea said...

I am positively speechless that this is happening in the Christian market!! I was well aware of this practice, and never did like it, but never DREAMED that Christians would be participating. I don't get it.....Isn't this obvious?

Angi said...

If I knew an author was doing this I would so NOT ever read anything of theirs again.

Anonymous said...

Angie, I just posted a message on my blog about the ethics of ghostwriting and linked to this post.