Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Sariola's ghost

Those of you who love to worry over the ethics of ghostwriting can chew over this one for some time, I suspect. It comes from Finland (link from the Literary Saloon).

Here's the headline: Finnish novelist admits to using ghost writer for 16 crime novels. Publisher denies knowledge. (Hastily.) And the author is apologising. And they all have confusingly similar names.

There is no indication, by the way, that any of the people who bought and read these 16 novels are complaining. So quite why the 'author' feels the need to apologise I'm not sure -- unless she now feels that it was somehow wrong to put out a ghostwritten book in the first place. In which case I think she is misguided. Personally I am entirely relaxed about ghostwriting, as you may have gathered from previous posts.

Modern publishing is a business, and big-time writers are brands. And there's a class of reader that really doesn't care about art and literature (I'm one, for a start). Just gimme a good romance, they say. Or a thriller. And if it's got a name on it that I recognise, and it's the same sort of book as the last one with that name on it, that's fine. Tells me all I need to know. Who actually wrote it and how they divide the loot is none of my business.

Actually this Finnish ghostwriting affair looks very like the Michael Gruber/Robert Tanenbaum business. That is to say, there comes a time when the ghost decides to set up in his/her own right, and then the history of the ghosted books becomes a commercial asset for the ghost turned name author.

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