Ghosts Who Write

I got a book from the library written by what I thought was one author but it turned out to be written another author I’ve never heard of. So often, in these days when bestselling authors become brand names, after they are dead, their name lives on in the hands — and mind — of a different writer.

Which leads me to believe that old bestselling authors don’t die, they become ghost writers. (Though “writing ghosts” or “ghosts who write” might be more accurate.)

I got fed up with Sue Grafton and her characters long before she hit the middle of the alphabet, but I must admit I admire her for her stance on letting her series die with her. So Z really was for zero. (That was supposed to be the final book, Z is for Zero, but she never had a chance to start writing it.) Besides, once a new Sue Grafton writer finished with Z, so would the author be finished because there is no letter after Z. Unless, of course, her publishers started inventing new letters so that the series could continue indefinitely. (<~> is for <~>####, perhaps?) Luckily for us, Grafton put an end to that.

But other authors and publishers aren’t so kind. One author (who is still alive, by the way) has written and cowritten an estimated 278 books. (I think only 71 by himself, though such numbers are hard to find.) After he’s gone and each of those co-authors continue the brand, a thousand books — two thousand books — isn’t beyond possibility. According to one estimate, there are 26 new releases from this fellow. Some people only read books with his name on the cover, which is okay because I never do. His less than stellar writing does not appeal to me. What surprises me is that people don’t care about this particular book farm (where he raised books like cattle). They buy his books anyway.

But that’s not what this particular blog was supposed to be about. The whole purpose was to post my silly thought about dead authors being ghost writers.

My writings might continue to be read after I’m gone — after all, blogs are forever, and some of my books are on the Amazon treadmill (as long as people order them, they will be published) — but no one will continue writing in my name except by accident. (Mine is not a common name.)

I’m glad that I won’t be a writing ghost, though I would be just as glad (I think I would, anyway) if my books sold well enough for my name become a household brand.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

9 Responses to “Ghosts Who Write”

  1. theburningheart Says:

    If your books produce money, and you do not leave in your will that anyone who may intend to profit from your name may be sued, you bet you will be a Ghost writer, who knows? Maybe even with many reincarnations! 😉

  2. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    Ghost writing has always seemed fraudulent to me; even the ‘original’ kind where someone has an idea but asks another person to write the story for them. I’ve been an avid reader all my life, and would often buy a book because of who the author was, but I’ve learned to look more carefully before purchasing since discovering that favourite authors are not necessarily the people writing their books anymore.

    For instance, I used to really enjoy Patterson’s mystery stories until suddenly I didn’t. I pushed on through that particular book until I realized it was a ‘co-written’ one and the reason I wasn’t enjoying it was that the dominant author’s voice was no longer the one I liked. I tried a few more of his co-authored ones but finally gave him up entirely. I came to the conclusion that the unknown writers might have been mentored by him, and the final text approved by him, but there was no way someone else could duplicate his actual writing voice … and to have his name dominant on the covers of his co-authored books seemed like deception. In my mind it’s ‘name-dropping’ of the worst kind.

  3. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Sounds like James Patterson. I liked his early Alex Cross novels, but after he started bringing in “co-writers,” it got boring.

  4. Joe Says:

    I know what you mean. After Anne McCaffrey (author of many science fiction and fantasy novels, including “The Dragonriders of Pern” series) grew too infirm to write, her son Todd co-wrote later books in the Dragonriders world, and after she died, I believe he wrote further books in her world. It’s probably inevitable that the tone changed as time went on and the books were less likeable and felt “recycled.” Also I noticed some social and gender themes that did not age well, but that were probably taken for granted during their original publication from 1969 through the 1970’s. It’s a little like looking at old magazines from that era and seeing cigarette ads, and wincing.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The only time I liked that someone finished a series when the author died was “The Wheel of Time.” In fact, I think the new author meandered less than the original fellow, who seemed to lose focus after the first five or so books.

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