Just in case you’re thinking “Rodney Who?” let me briefly explain: Dangerfield was a stand-up comedian whose most famous routine was built around the complaint, “I get no respect,” followed by quips that supported his claim. “I get no respect,” he’d say. “I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous, everyone hasn’t met me yet.” (Sorry, that just cracks me up!)
So what has this got to do with ghost writing? I sometimes think that, as a profession, ghost writing just doesn’t get the respect it deserves. For example, unlike journalists, copywriters, columnists, speech writers and fiction writers, a lot of people don’t know what ghost writers actually are.
True story: when I first signed onto Twitter, I also looked into some Twitter-related sites, using the tools I thought would get me the best exposure and connections. One of them was Twellow.com, a directory of Twitter accounts where you can list yourself under relevant categories. Seeing that they had no category for ghost writers, I suggested that they create one. A short time later, someone from Twellow emailed me to let me know that, thanks to my suggestion, they created a category called Paranormal Writers. I’m not kidding.
I met with similar incomprehension when I began to tell others about launching the International Association of Professional Ghost Writers, or when I set about to line up member benefits. Not only did I find myself trying to explain the concept of launching an association, I had to go on to describe who the association would be for. Certainly the Horror Writers Association or the Screenwriters Federation of America never struggle with explaining their membership.
Then there are the occasional controversies that arise over whether or not someone famous has written his own blog entries, tweeted her own tweets or penned his or her own best seller. From John F. Kennedy to Kanye West, from Sarah Palin to Hillary Clinton, speculation regarding what has or hasn’t been ghost written ranges from the merely curious to outright derision. But anyone who has ever seriously sat down to write a book or blog on a consistent basis would completely understand why famous people, for whom writing is not their main source of income or celebrity, might choose to enlist the services of a real writer.
Ghost writing as a profession deserves all the respect and recognition that any other type of writing receives-perhaps even more so, with the unique challenges we face and skills that it takes to succeed. But it’s up to us to educate others on the important service we provide, and remind them of how many stories, and how much information, would never have seen the light of day without us.
Until then, maybe it’s not so bad to be the Rodney Dangerfield of writing. After all, he built up quite a formidable career by getting “no respect,” didn’t he?