Everyone has a story, but some stories are simply better than others, and as an über-famous person, yours is one of the best, easily in the top three of all time. There’s The Bible, The Fountainhead, and Your Forthcoming Book. You and your manager want to confess your darkest, skankiest secrets to the world, but who has time to sit in a room and write them down? Imagine the toll on your body. It’s not like Tim Tebow wrote his memoir while quarterbacking for the Broncos or Bristol Palin polished drafts while dancing with the stars and rearing her child. They got one of their smart, religious, writerly friends to do it.
Ghostwriters, they’re called, including the nondenominational ones. The problem is ghostwriters are very different than you, the megastar. In fact, they’re completely the opposite. Here are some common questions about these mysterious “people you must deal with to publish a book.”
My ghostwriter doesn’t look well. Is he/she sick?
Not likely. Most ghostwriters remain very pale from staying indoors all day. Their skin is nearly translucent and would be theoretically beautiful if it wasn’t dusted with mild acne. They prefer loose clothing, tend to mumble, and shift around when they walk. Really, it’s no accident they’re called ghostwriters! A good rule of thumb is the less healthy your ghostwriter looks, the harder working he or she will be. So don’t worry. It sounds like you snagged a fantastic ghostwriter.
My ghostwriter seems so very sad. Why?
Great question. Ghostwriters are emotionally haunted people. There is no one reason, only various theories. In his or her spare time, your ghostwriter writes other more personal things, which obviously don’t pay the bills. Never under any circumstances should you read your ghostwriters “literary” work, or you will begin to toe the depressing gulf between art and commerce your ghost is trapped inside. You see, in the same way real life ghosts are condemned to haunt one area, all writers, including ghostwriters, have one central issue they “circle around.” Think of it as their persona, only not lucrative like yours. Your persona evolves with each album, movie, or TV season, and the public demands more, in the form of money! Writers can’t help but write about one thing. Again, we know not why. Even the fanciest, most respected ghostwriter is slogging away at a book that will sell only a fraction of what yours will.
Not to put your ghostwriter down. That they try deserves admiration. However, the topics they tackle tend to be really depressing. Imagine sitting at a desk all day, obsessing over war and animal cruelty, like Hemingway did. Now replace Hemingway with your no name ghostwriter and war with a made-up family living in Connecticut. Exactly. Wouldn’t you be sad too? Consider it a service you’re doing for these forlorn spirits. Your ghostwriter is undoubtedly thrilled to walk three hundred pages in your expensive shoes. He/she just has a hard time showing it, because of a latent personality disorder.
Can I lie to my ghostwriter?
Please! Did you get to where you are today by not lying? Is it a lie to print “by you” on the front cover, regardless of whether you also put “with (someone who no one knows)” in tiny type? If human memory is fragile, then celebrity memory is super delicate gilded bone china filled with the finest cocaine. You can barely separate what happened at this year’s Teen and/or People’s Choice Awards. Do readers expect you to recount your rise to fame without elaborating on some details? Readers are bored, half-frightened, and most likely purchasing your book en masse at an airport or Wal-Mart. Rise from the ashes of your imagined difficult childhood. Be the complex person no one knows you may or may not be.
Can I have sex with my ghostwriter?
Some weirdo celebrities do sleep with normal civilians. In spite of their pallor, your ghostwriter may seem interesting and sensitive. But imagine the consequences of introducing your ghostwriter to your lifestyle. What if he/she uses your moisturizers? Then they’ll ask to borrow your car. Next they’ll be working out with your personal trainer and doing Transcendental Meditation with your live-in guru. It’s a dangerous game to play. If you can’t control your desires, the same rule applies to ghostwriters as it does to vampires: never let him/her cross the threshold to your dwelling. Intimacy should happen on neutral ground, like a hotel or in a supply closet at the publishing house.
My book is almost done. It looks like a lot of work and I don’t have time to read it. Do I have to?
Remember, this is your story! You’re the most qualified person to fudge your way through a meeting or three. Fallback critiques are “the middle needs work,” “it needs to be grittier,” and the crit/warning combo, “should I just write the last chapter myself?” Make sure you nail the photo captions in those glossy pages that everyone can’t help but turn to when they’re deciding on whether to buy your book. Speaking of pictures, maybe you should just come up with a children’s book in five minutes and force your ghostwriter to work on that. Those things are selling like hotcakes.