You might have perused my January posts where I re-read some R.L. Stine books. If you haven’t – or you’ve blocked my insane rants from your memory – I discovered that this Fear Street Sagas series was ghostwritten. Entirely, I believe. Now that I’ve calmed down, I wanted to share some thoughts.
I am, obviously, aware that ghostwriting is a thing that exists. I just never thought I’d fall prey to it!
Stine is by no means a favorite author of mine (certainly not after my recent readings), however, he was a staple in my childhood. I loved the Goosebumps series as a kid and teen and thoroughly enjoyed the two Fear Street Saga books I owned.
Of note, I couldn’t find much to confirm that some of the Goosebumps books were ghostwritten, but it does seem pretty likely. We may never know how many of the books Stine wrote himself! So we’ll talk about what I know, which is that my two Fear Street Saga books credit authors who are not Stine on the copyright pages.
Having grown up reading his work, seeing his name on the cover, it was startling to find he didn’t actually write some of the books I enjoyed! Regardless of whether or not I still enjoy the books (not), I was more than a little mad to find he didn’t actually write them. I know many of y’all love Harry Potter; imagine that after seeing J.K.’s name on every cover, you read the small print and discovered she didn’t write half the books!
I know ghostwriting is (sadly) not uncommon for those popular authors with seemingly never-ending series. Maybe if I’d given it some thought, I wouldn’t have been shocked to find Stine employing them. The internet tells me there are 62 Goosebumps books alone. I get it, I guess. You’re popular, you’re making buckets of money, people are desperate for more of your books and you’ve got ideas but maybe don’t have the time to churn them out. Or maybe you want to work on other projects, but you still need to keep the people happy and keep making that dough. Or maybe you don’t care because you’re so rich that you’ll slap your name on any piece of trash someone else quietly writes for your franchise.
Ok, so maybe I don’t really thing ghostwriting is justified.
My issue here is the ghost part of things. How about, no matter what reason you hire someone else to write your series, YOU CREDIT THEM!?
Like, on the cover!
Is it James Patterson who does something like “James Patterson presents” or “James Patterson featuring” and then puts the name of whomever else probably actually wrote the book? I tried to Google this, but wasn’t really sure how to frame what I’m searching for.
But anyway, this makes sense to me. If you’re an established author who has created a series, or world, or characters, but you’re no longer writing your own books, that’s ok (I guess.) You still deserve to have your name on the book; it’s your creation! However, I think the person doing part of or most of the leg work also deserves the credit! On the cover, right next to “the author’s” name!
My ranting could have easily been prevented had these Fear Street book covers said something like:
R.L. Stine’s Fear Street Sagas Presents:
Book Title by Actual Author
Easy fix! Then I’d have known right away that Cameron Dokey wrote the hot garbage I used to treasure as a kid.
In summation (see, I can sound like an intelligent adult human when I choose to!), I just think that whoever is writing the damn book deserves easily readable credit on the book cover. I don’t like feeling like I’m being tricked by authors whose work I enjoy!
How about you? Do you think ghostwriters deserve more credit? Have you discovered any of your favorite books were ghostwritten?