Ghostwriters

It has emerged that the best-selling debut novel Girl Online, supposedly written by Zoe Sugg – famous for her online vlogging (that’s video blogging for the uninitiated) on YouTube under the monicker Zoella, was in fact ghost-written by Siobhan Curham a freelance writer and novelist specialising in the young adult market.

Of course, we all know and accept that famous personalities’ autobiographies are almost invariably ghost-written. One cannot imagine the notoriously impatient and frequently apoplectic Alex Ferguson sitting down with a glass of red wine at hand and typing out 350 pages of his life story, without a single “F-word” to boot. But to hold oneself out as an author and take credit for the writing of a novel is a different matter.

Katie Price, erstwhile glamour model and now permanent fixture of “celebrity” watching magazines such as Hello and OK, makes no bones about the fact that she did not write the fluffy, soft-porn romances published in her name. And that’s fine with me.

There is also the open continuation of the Virginia Andrews Flowers in the Attic series following her death in 1986 with books in the continuation of the series written by Andrew Neiderman under the banner “The New Virginia Andrews”.

It is the deception I don’t like in this case.  The attempt to pass off as her own work the words of another. I understand the marketing perspective. Look at the sales figures.  Girl Online comfortably out-sold JK Rowling. In the publishing business it is difficult to argue with the money.

One can imagine Trollope’s reaction. Did he really write all 47 novels? Was there in fact some army of ghostwriters working behind the scenes to maintain his prolific output? Were his plots concocted by a committee to meet the demands of his market of loyal readers?

Laughable isn’t it?

But I feel that the revelation that Penguin/Random House think it is acceptable to pass off this work as the product of Zoe Sugg’s imagination and pen devalues the status of all authors everywhere and I see it as a sad step to have taken.

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