The Economics Of Ghostwriting

December 5, 2013 in Daily Bulletin

Alex Mayyasi took an in depth look at ghostwriting – the practice whereby a book is written by an individual other than the person it is normally credited to:

  • According to the dictionary an author is “a person who has written something or a person who starts or creates something, such as a plan or idea”. Readers normally think of authors in the first sense while publishers prefer to focus on the second.
  • There are four tiers of ghostwriters. The lowest tier can be found on freelancing websites and earn around $10,000 for each ghostwritten book, and are usually required to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
  • On the highest tier are authors with a history of writing multi-million dollar hits. They’re paid in the millions, usually receive a share of the profits, as well as some writing credit.
  • Some are surprised by how quickly ghostwriters can churn out books – it normally takes them around four months to finish one.
  • Celebrities hire ghostwriters because writing authoring can be lucrative. The bidding for the rights to Angelina Jolie’s autobiography are rumored to have reached $50 million.
  • They also might not find it worth their time to write their own – especially when a ghostwriter will likely do a better job of writing it.
  • According to experts ghostwriting is a billion dollar industry. 25% of the New York Times’ nonfiction bestseller list is thought to be ghostwritten, as well as virtually all celebrity books.
  • Readers usually react negatively to the idea of ghostwriters. Yet nobody minds that Obama doesn’t write his own speeches, Jon Stewart doesn’t write all his own jokes, celebrities don’t design the fashions that have their names attached to them, or that research assistants write the articles that Professors get credit for.

The full article takes a comprehensive look at the industry, and its past, present and future. It also reveals several books that you probably didn’t know were ghostwritten, and tips about how one can get into the business. Read it here.

Source: Priceonomics