Ghostwriters – Are They Accepted?

Ghostwriters - Are They Accepted?

These days it seems like almost everyone has been publishing books. From comedians to singer and television actors to Youtube stars. It’s almost as if publishing a book is your claim to fame. Which for some reason, we don’t really get. Because publishing a book once used to be something that only writers did. Writing used to be an art, but now it seems like almost anyone and everyone can “write”. Our biggest gripe to this whole social change is the existence of ghost writers. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically an individual who writes content and gets paid to do so, so that someone else can put their name on the work.

Sounds a little crazy doesn’t it? Pretending to be a writer so that people who read your book actually think that you can write that well. The biggest concern is the recent controversy behind a well known Youtuber, Zoella, who penned a book that instantly became a Bestseller, but was then outed for using a ghost-writer. Her novel, Girl Online, deals with a wide range of issues that the internet has created for us. One being the ever constant presence online bullying.

Zoella (otherwise known as Zoe Sugg), with the help of her ghost writer, Siobhan Curham, penned a book that instantly grew popular, and when news of her ghostwriter came out, many stood on the side that Zoe didn’t have talent and that wanted to cash in her on her fame by using another outlet. While another camp ran with the idea that Siobhan Curham wanted to cash in on Zoe’s fame since her full name was printed in the back cover of the novel with a thanks from Zoe. Regardless of the situation, it’s the fact that a ghostwriter that was used which stirred up all of these emotions. But it’s important to note that ghostwriters have always been part of the publishing industry and because we haven’t been completely aware of it is why we don’t vibe well with this knowledge.

Ghostwriters - Are They Accepted?


  1. Abertaway

    You might not like her for what ever reason but being an author, blogger and vlogger of some popularity means she certainly is not a nobody. As for being vapid I guess that is in they eye of the beholder and I have not read/watched any of her stuff so couldn’t say but the issues she discusses (bullying, mental health and homophobia) are not vapid.

    What articles on publishing should they be writing instead?

  2. RickTaLife

    I don’t think anyone cares if she used a ghost writer or not, I think people care about her putting her name on the book and not being honest and upfront that she didn’t write the entire thing herself.
    She should have put by Zoe Sugg AND Siobham Curham and at least her fans would know it wasn’t all her own work.

  3. Kwoles

    This is clearly going to be an issue when books are effectively commissioned. They have to succeed. Books that are written by one author without a publisher’s initial support will then have to pitch for backing. So had to be a no-fail situation and required a considerable amount of input from others.

  4. Arvind

    I think the assumption that her fan base would not assume the book is ghost written (like just about every other celebrity book) is somewhat insulting to her fans. Zoella is a brand. That is how she makes money and why the book is a number one bestseller.

    Do we care that David Beckham doesn’t write his own books or that Kim Khardashian doesn’t make her own perfume? People aren’t buying these products because of their expectations of quality, they are buying into the brand.

    All this jealousy over a young, successful woman for having the nerve to use a ghost writer is unbelievable. Did anyone honestly expect her to write it herself? If there is a problem with ghost writing per se, I can accept that, but why pick on one individual when there is a whole world of deception, smokes and mirrors that is not uncommon across the media.

    We also have to remember, Curham didn’t want credit for this. She took on a ghost writing commission, a commercial arrangement that suited both parties. I don’t see the issue here.

    If you want to criticise the content of the book, fine. But to criticise one celebrity for successfully using an age old practice is just nasty and does nothing to tackle the broader issue of ghost writing.

  5. Marion Depaty

    Her fanbase is 10-15 years old. They believed her. She’s the one insulting them here. If the issues (anxiety, homophobia etc) are so close to her heart then why didn’t she write it herself. It didn’t have to be perfect. I would actually said if it had been imperfect it would have made her more human. Instead she is a mere marketing tool (no pun intended). I suggest you check this page of her book :
    This is so distressing to think this is her vision of anxiety. It’s frankly insulting to anyone suffering a mental disorder.

  6. JerrardButlerStyles

    Ok let’s try to understand what happened:

    Zoe offers makeup tips for ten year olds and gets really popular. They lap it up knowing they’re going to need it if they’re going to be popular too.

    This fits because British females are already known to be the most overly made-up specimens on earth; wanting, as they do, to be popular. Talking trowel cement.

    Penguin sees big Xmas sales in the offing, targeting hapless parents of said ten year olds who want to be popular. Cross marketing opportunities with makeup manufacturers, beauty ‘industry’.

    Zoe comes up with a storyline that ‘dealt with serious issues – out of a desire to help her fans’, including how-to advice on affairs with American pop stars, but can’t write worth mascara. That smile though, whew! So popular.

    Penguin hires Curham, a very serious ‘professional editorial consultant’, for crash write up. She delivers the goods in time for Christmas, for paltry sum. Maybe she has learned tips on how to become more popular from the experience, however.

    Parents cough up, knowing how much their girls need make-up advice because they’re just not pretty enough and they want to be popular!

    Best selling book in British publishing. Really popular.

    All credit for writing goes to Zoe, however. Lie leads to minor glitch, but more publicity.

    Stay tuned for who takes credit for this ace, nay diabolical, strategy: it’s all about being popular! We want to know!

  7. ClarrieLove

    Looks right. You’re probably far too polite to append the three or four “Ker-ch!ngs” that the situation merits.

  8. Portlander99

    Another Penguin Classic, surely.

    A culture that likes to pretend anyone can write novels gets the simulacra it deserves.

  9. Vanessa

    What annoys me is this Zoella is getting rich off the back of someone elses work. Its bad enough that you can make a career out of Youtube videos.

  10. JuiicyCoutoure

    Has the practice of ghost-writing novels been going on for years? Or is this a new low?

    I’m genuinely interested. I know autobiographies are very rarely ‘auto’ any more, that seem somewhat different for some reason.

  11. Faye

    Who’s aggrieved here? Those who bought the book or journalists coming down hard on a young woman who has dared to be a success in a medium which may threaten their own?

  12. Lee

    Nobody moans when Prime Ministers, Presidents or Royalty make speeches or hand out press comments written by others though…

  13. Jason White

    @Lee: “Nobody moans when Prime Ministers, Presidents or Royalty make speeches or hand out press comments written by others though”

    They do, and that’s why few people feel that politicians are genuine and honest.

    The Zoella phenomenon is a totally different kettle of fish, because she’s traded on being the girl next door, the teenage girl’s online friend – and a large part of her stock is about being (to the gullible) authentic and genuine. She’s cashed out on that authenticity by releasing a book that she only partly wrote.

    If you can’t write, then why release a book? One reason: for the money. And if you do it for the money, you have to live with it when people call you out. Even teenagers aren’t so shallow and dense that they can’t see what this is all about.

  14. Jonny

    Fair play to the writer, people make a living doing that. It’s all about the branding of Zoella and people are showing a fair bit of naivety slagging off Zoella. Gods how many biographies are written and released every year, you think their all written by their respective subjects? Next we’ll demanding Britney Spears doesn’t use Autotune, there will be no end and Peter Jackson will be reduced to Puppet shows.

  15. Sam S. J

    When it comes down to it people are tired of being manipulated, deceived, and lied to. That the two women and the publisher do not fathom the lack of ethics is part of the problem.

  16. Kenny

    I feel rather sorry for Zoella. We seem happy enough to accept that most celebrity ‘autobiographies’ are no such thing, so I’m not sure why she’s been singled out in this way.

  17. Simon

    Isn’t this technically miss-selling? People bought a book which turned out wasn’t written by the advertised author? I think people should be entitled to a full refund.

    Publishers need to start removed the ‘ghost’ from ‘ghost written’. The people who wrote the book – whoever they are – should get their names on the front cover. Celebs who want to take full credit and pass themselves off as authors might not like it, but it’s only fair the readers knows what they are truly getting.

  18. Michael Fraser

    I don’t understand the problem.
    - She’s not a professional author, so it’s perfectly reasonable that she might need some help.
    - We don’t know how much of the book (in ideas / storyline if not actual words) was her work vs the ghostwriter, so none of us can comment on how much each of them ‘should’ have earned.
    - Ghostwriters are used all the time, and we except it in pretty much every other case.
    - She thanked the ghostwriter in the book, and the ghostwriter is happy with the situation. If she’s happy with the result, why do we have the right to be so arsey about it?

  19. Philip Sigh

    The problem is that these bloggers pose as friendly and genuine online, while undeclared marketing operations beaver away in the background. It’s all rather underhand. I was a meeting recently where a marketing manager gleefully described paying bloggers popular with teenage girls to promote a certain product – when I looked at the relevant blog spots not one declared they’d been paid to like and gush about the product.

  20. Jeremy

    using such a popular online presence with a big following is just an easy money making method for Penguin. It makes sense that it is ghost written. They just wanted her name to guarantee big sales. From the way you described it.. this seems like such a childish and absurd book. I think i’ll stay away.. seems more for younger kids.

  21. Rachel

    The fact that Zoe keeps saying “the plotline and characters were mine” to defend herself makes me think that she didn’t write any of the book, or maybe she wrote just a bit. Because if she did write the book, even if it wasn’t all of it, she would have said so to calm down the people hating. The main thing that upset me was the lying, I felt like she tricked us and the fact that she considers herself a bestselling author who beat JK Rowling’s record on most book sold within a week of publication annoys me because she didn’t even write the damn book. Authors write, not just say “I want a book where this happens and I want the characters to be like this”

  22. Wanda

    Well, i’m not surprised the book is ghost written. I mean, a book has to be longer than a 140 character tweet ;)

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