Saturday, October 19, 2019

Only Their Author Knows For Sure: You'd Be Surprised To Find These Books Were Ghostwritten

Readers are sometimes surprised to discover as much as half of all books traditionally published today are created with the help of ghostwriters or developmental editors. Even more so for self-published books. In fact, when you look at any nonfiction best seller list 50% of those books were ghostwritten. More and more fiction books are being ghostwritten as well. Plus, the majority of celebrity memoirs and biographies are ghostwritten. For example, John F. Kennedy’s classic Profiles in Courage was penned by his speechwriter Theodore Sorenson. 
Ghostwriters have been around for a while. Did you know that H.P. Lovecraft was Harry Houdini’s ghostwriter for Imprisoned with the Pharaoh, published in Weird Tales in 1924? Lovecraft also ghosted The Curse of Yig authored by Zealia Bishop. And, when H. P. Lovecraft died of cancer at 46 he left notes on a work he’d barely begun, The Lurker At The Threshold. August Derleth completed it, in other words, did pretty much all the writing on it. Derleth was credited as co-author
Have you ever wondered how authors are writing books years after they’ve died? Robert Ludlum, who wrote the Jason Bourne series, died in 2001. The books written after his death until 2017 were by the ghostwriter Eric Van Lustbader. Another author who appears to have been writing long after her death, over 25 years since she passed, is V.C. Andrews. Cleo Virginia Andrews penned seven books as V.C. Andrews before she died of breast cancer. Since 1990, the books have been ghostwritten.  The books by Mickey Spillane that were published after his death in 2006 were ghostwritten by Max Allan Collins.
 Popular series are often written by ghostwriters after the original author’s death or if the author wants to stop writing the series for various reasons. That includes such series as The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and The Babysitter’s Club. The Babysitter’s club originated with Ann M. Martin, who wrote the first 35 books in the series. But at the 36th book, the writing was turned over to Peter Lerangis. It was somewhat the same for Animorphs, the credited author, K. A. Applegate wrote the first 24 books. However, she mostly outlined the next 27 books in the series and a group of ghostwriters actually wrote them. In fact, not only did K. A. Applegate, unlike many authors, freely acknowledge this, she admitted that she was one of the ghostwriters on Sweet Valley High in her early career.
 Sweet Valley High like the Nancy Drew series has fictional author names on the covers. Those books were written by several ghostwriters based on a template and an expected style the publishers created. This is the case with many book series the authors’ names are simply made up by the publisher.
You’ve probably read many books you thought were written by the author on the book when they weren’t. You might be surprised to find that the actual writer of Tennis As I Play It By Maurice McLoughlin was Sinclair Lewis. Inside the Medium’s Cabinet by Joseph Dunninger was ghostwritten by Walter B. Gibson. My Chinese Marriage authored by Mae T. Franking was written by Katherine Anne Porter. And Robert Graves was the ghostwriter of Old-Soldier Sahib by Frank Richards.
However, ghostwriters do write in the style of their clients. That’s part of their job. Ghostwriters interview their clients and get all the information they can to write the book in their client’s voice. People hire ghostwriters to create books they can’t due to lack of time or know-how or in some cases the death of the original writer of a series. When you look at a book and think is it or isn’t it, often only the writer or ghostwriter knows for sure.

I am an author of 36 books of my own, and I’ve also ghostwritten memoirs, business books, and fiction for clients. I’m always available to discuss my work and what I can offer clients. Feel free to contact me at or visit my website

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