Ghostwriting Fees 2012 Presidential Election
Citation: Bosch X, Esfandiari B, McHenry L (2012) Challenging Medical Ghostwriting in US Courts. PLoS Med 9(1): e1001163. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001163
Published: January 24, 2012
Copyright: © 2012 Bosch et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Funding: No specific funding was received for writing this article.
Competing interests: BE has participated as an attorney in litigation involving Prozac, Paxil, and Avandia and other pharmaceutical products. LM is a member of Healthy Skepticism and research consultant for the law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, Los Angeles, California. He has participated in litigation involving Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Avandia, and other pharmaceutical products. All other authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
Abbreviations: FCA, False Claims Act; KOL, key opinion leader
Provenance: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Complaints about the ethics of medical ghostwriting have increased in the last decade, but little has changed –. Corruption of the scientific literature through ghostwriting persists in medicine due to the enormous profits for all stakeholders , including the pharmaceutical industry that creates the publication strategy, academic researchers acting as key opinion leaders (KOLs) for industry, universities employing KOLs, medical journals and their proprietors, including medical societies and publishers, and medical communication companies employing ghostwriters.
Ghostwriting openly infringes academic standards and, in many cases, as recently argued by Stern and Lemmens in PLoS Medicine, contributes to fraud . Typically, the practice involves industry-financed writers generating articles that either promote the sponsor company's products or discredit competing ones, with eventual authorship credited to academic researchers who provide little or no input, thereby concealing industry involvement and contributing to distorted drug profiles. In the United States, cases relating to gabapentin , rofecoxib , paroxetine , sertraline , fenfluramine/phentermine (fen-phen) , and Prempro  are well documented, while many others, relating to rosiglitazone, olanzapine, quetiapine, valdecoxib, and celecoxib, remain under seal by the courts. These cases demonstrate the dangers inherent in permitting pharmaceutical companies to maintain the status quo.
Some editors, fully aware that ghostwritten manuscripts are submitted to their journals, refuse to police their content . Although other journals, most notably PLoS Medicine, as well as several editors' associations have produced policies against the practice, in some cases adopting clear and visible positions, little has changed ,,,–. In addition, despite efforts to reinforce authorship and publication requirements, journals' responses to ghostwriting remain unsatisfactory, as shown by a recent study of 630 articles from six high impact medical journals . In 2008, the overall prevalence of articles with honorary authorship, ghost authorship, or both, was 21.0%, which represented a decline from 29.1% in 1996. Although the prevalence of ghost authorship showed a significant decline, there was no change in the prevalence of honorary authors relative to 1996 . This study concluded that inappropriate authorship remains a significant problem in high impact biomedical publications.
Indeed, even the policies adopted by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors have failed to clarify how the corruption of medical literature could be curtailed . Substantial contribution to manuscript design or drafting is of little significance when marketing messages are planted in the ghostwriter's first draft well before a nominal author is selected. Authors may give approval when the paper is submitted for publication, but this only occurs after the sponsor company has ensured the manuscript meets its marketing goals and the legal department has transferred ownership to the submitting author. The manuscript and message are therefore controlled by the company rather than the nominal authors ,.
Since self-regulation has not produced results and the government has failed to have any significant impact, we argue that the only remaining option is the legal system. Building upon the recent Stern and Lemmens article that proposed viewing ghostwriting as fraud , this Essay expands on the possible legal remedies for medical ghostwriting that can help outlaw a practice that has long tainted journal content and jeopardized patient safety.
Legal Remedies for Medical Ghostwriting
Stern and Lemmens recently advanced various legal theories under which “guest authors” can be held accountable, including filing an action under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) . They opined that monetary damages could include a reduction in the subscription value of the journal publishing ghostwritten articles. They concede individual damages would be nominal but suggest that potential liability and reputational harm may curb ghostwriting. We endorse this novel theory and the other theories (i.e., fraud on the court) Stern and Lemmens advance. We question, however, whether a law firm would undertake the Herculean task of filing RICO actions against guest authors when the potential of recovery (even if aggregated and trebled) would be, in litigation values, fairly modest and nominal. In reality, the transactional costs of such an endeavor, the novelty of the theories, and the nominal damages at issue would likely discourage law firms from prosecuting such cases.
We fully agree with Stern and Lemmens that the legal system could be effective in curbing ghostwriting, and suggest the following models of liability.
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Damages Caused by the Guest-Authors' Misrepresentations
Guest authors lending their names to ghostwritten articles touting the safety and efficacy of a drug have an independent duty to exercise ordinary care and prevent injury to others as a result of their conduct . As the influential Justice Benjamin Cardozo noted long ago: “It is ancient learning that one who assumes to act, even though gratuitously, may thereby become subject to the duty of acting carefully, if he acts at all.”  When US courts have considered misrepresentations that implicate a risk of physical harm to others, they have often looked to the rules set forth in the Restatement Second of Torts, sections 310 and 311 .
Sections 310 and 311 of the Restatement allow injured third parties to recover from a person who has made an intentional and negligent misrepresentation inducing action that involves a risk of physical harm . The Restatement emphasizes that liability “extends to any person who, in the course of an activity which is in furtherance of his own interests, undertakes to give information to another, and knows or should realize that the safety of the person or others may depend on the accuracy of the information” .
The following hypothetical case, which is applicable to many real world events, illustrates how liability can be established: A drug manufacturer conducts a study whose primary endpoints show the study drug poses serious risks and is not effective. The drug manufacturer manipulates the data and creates post hoc secondary and tertiary endpoints to create favorable outcomes. Once a favorable outcome is created, the manufacturer hires a ghostwriting firm to draft an article falsely touting the purported benefits of the drug and failing to disclose the side effects. The manufacturer then retains various KOLs and reputable university professors to lend their names and credentials to the drafted article. The article is published in a widely read medical journal and physicians begin to prescribe the drug in reliance on the article's claims and the “authors'” reputations. Placebo responses help mask efficacy issues, but some patients begin to suffer from the undisclosed side effects—which in many cases cause serious and fatal injuries. Under these circumstances, the injured patients and their families sue the manufacturer for injuries and death caused by the drug's side effects. The guest authors, however, are never named as defendants. We argue that when an injured patient's physician directly or indirectly relied upon a journal article containing false/manipulated safety and efficacy data, then pursuant to the legal authority outlined above, the authors of that article, including guest authors, are legally liable for patient injuries and could be named as defendants.
Accordingly, guest authors should know that the information to which they have affixed their name (and purportedly “authored”) will be relied on by other medical professionals to make treatment decisions and that, should the information be false, the patients receiving the drug are placed in peril. Guest authors cannot claim immunity from the law by stating that they relied on data summaries presented by the pharmaceutical company. Such facts would fall squarely within the elements of liability outlined in Sections 310 and 311 of the Restatements discussed above. Even if the prescribing physician never actually read the ghostwritten article but its messages were relayed to him or her by colleagues, under established case law, the prescriber can be deemed to have relied on the ghostwritten article . We therefore recommend that in cases where patients are harmed as a result of a pharmaceutical manufacturer's fraudulent representations involving ghostwritten articles, serious consideration should be given to naming as defendants the guest authors who lent their names to the misrepresentations.
In a few current pending pharmaceutical mass-tort litigations, plaintiffs' lawyers have begun naming ghostwriting firms such as Excerpta Medica, Inc. and Elsevier, Inc. as defendants , although we are aware of no published decisions or cases in which guest authors have been named as defendants. The transactional costs involved in naming guest authors as defendants are minimal given that a suit will already be pending against the manufacturer. The potential damages at issue can be significant and will depend on the plaintiff's injury and the egregious nature of defendants' conduct. Such potential liability serves four purposes. First, guest authors will be held accountable for their fraud and negligent conduct. Second, they will be confronted with the consequences of their actions and will have to answer at pre-trial depositions and at trial. Third, this will, we hope, force guest authors to review the data and independently confirm the conclusions prior to lending their names to articles drafted for them by manufacturers. Finally, once guest authors realize they could be personally liable for the bodily injuries resulting from their misrepresentations, they and other potential guest authors will be deterred from engaging in such unethical and illegal behavior.
False Claims Act
In addition to the claims for personal injuries caused by the guest authors' fraud, should the article constitute illegal off-label promotion by the pharmaceutical company, then the guest author may be held liable potentially as a conspirator under the federal False Claims Act (FCA) . The FCA has effectively been used by private persons and the federal government to prohibit off-label promotion when company representations encouraged health care professionals to submit false payment claims to government health care programs. As recently reported by Kesselheim et al. , private individual actions under the FCA (also known as qui tam actions) allow company insiders and others with special knowledge of potential violations to initiate legal actions, which the government may join or take over. In particular, the FCA qui tam provision permits a private person, known as a relator, to file a lawsuit on behalf of the US government, on grounds that he or she has information that the named defendant has intentionally submitted, or instigated the submission of, false or fraudulent claims to the United States . The relator, who need not have been personally affected by the defendant's demeanor, stands to receive a portion (usually about 15%–25%) of any recovered damages. A qui tam suit initially remains under seal for at least 60 days, during which the Department of Justice can investigate and decide whether to join the action.
This bounty system has acted as a powerful enticement in a variety of health settings, leading to a wellspring of FCA litigation , and such claims have become a usual feature of trials for off-label promotion ,.
The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) governs drug safety; under it, manufacturers are forbidden from directly marketing a drug for a use other than the FDA-approved indication . Under the FCA, lawsuits have been brought for FDCA violations against drug companies, based in part upon the company's utilization of ghostwritten articles to support illegal off-label use that induces physicians to prescribe medication for unapproved uses. In 2004, Pfizer pleaded guilty to charges that its Warner-Lambert unit flouted federal laws (FDCA and FCA) by promoting non-approved uses for a drug, alleging it used an illegal marketing strategy to drive up sales. Pfizer paid US$430 million in settlement, including US$24.6 million to the whistleblower who first reported the marketing manipulations. The lawsuit alleged that the Neurontin (gabapentin) marketing campaign included compensating doctors for putting their names on ghostwritten articles, paying them hefty speakers' fees, and covering the costs of “educational” trips at lavish resorts ,.
Obtaining formulary coverage for off-label drug uses in the US can be especially hard, but approval can be advanced by articles supporting off-label use. If ghostwritten articles published by Medicare- and Medicaid-recognized peer-reviewed medical journals are used as clinical evidence to establish medically accepted indications for off-label drugs, they are arguably inducing prescriptions to be written and paid for by the US government under false pretenses. The ghostwritten articles may then form the basis for FCA claims ,.
FCA inflicts civil liability against persons or entities presenting false payment claims or using false records or statements to get claims paid or approved or causing third parties to do so. Statutory damages include up to US$11,000 per false claim submitted (i.e., per each reimbursement submitted for an off-label indication), plus 3-fold damages for the government . If the ghostwritten article causes physicians to prescribe a drug for off-label use to patients on government assistance, the prices paid by the government for these off-label prescriptions can be obtained as damages (and trebled) in a successful FCA prosecution. The potential that participating in a ghost authored article can result in liability for conspiracy under the FCA may be another deterrent to the unethical practice of guest authorship.
Liability under the Anti-Kickback Statute
If it is established that, in consideration of prescribing the manufacturer's drug, the manufacturer agreed to the naming of the physician as a guest author, such arrangements would violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute , the primary federal law governing physician-manufacturer consulting provisions. Enacted to protect Medicare and Medicaid programs against inappropriate use of services and unnecessary expenditures, it criminalizes suppliers inducing the use of products or services by providing remuneration to ordering physicians who knowingly offer, pay, solicit, or receive remuneration (in cash or kind, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly) to induce (or in exchange for) the prescribing, purchasing, or recommending of goods or services reimbursable by any federal health care program .
Since paying physicians to become honorary or guest authors of a ghostwritten paper may influence their clinical judgment, subsequently increasing product sales (and government health care costs), and putting patients at risk by misrepresenting risk-benefit, both physicians and sponsor companies may be legally liable. The FCA, in conjunction with the Anti-Kickback Statute, can also be utilized to curb unethical ghostwriting. Via the FCA, a claim can be filed on behalf of the government by anyone possessing information regarding the anti-kickback violation and, if successful, the claimant or “relator” can share in any damages collected on behalf of the government. In addition, once the government is apprised of a kickback violation, the Department of Justice may bring criminal actions against violators of the Anti-Kickback Statute. Classified as a felony, the maximum individual punishments are fines of up to US$25,000 and imprisonment for up to five years . Furthermore, individuals guilty of violating the statute can be excluded from participation in government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid . The threat of civil and potential criminal prosecution is another potential manner of curbing guest authorship, especially when it is the result of reciprocal agreements between physicians/guest-authors to prescribe the drug and manufacturers promising to use the physician as a guest author.
No Recourse to the First Amendment
In their defense, guest authors and pharmaceutical defendants may try to argue they have a First Amendment right to participate in ghostwriting. The US has a rich history of protecting anonymous speech, especially in the area of political speech . However, the same level of protection does not apply to commercial speech, i.e., speech promoting the safety/sale of a drug. Moreover, the US Supreme Court has firmly held that “the First Amendment does not shield fraud”  and courts have consistently rejected such First Amendment arguments in cases in which drug companies have been sued for fraudulent or off-label promotion . Accordingly, the First Amendment should not provide any sanctuary to guest authors and pharmaceutical companies engaged in fraudulent commercial speech.
In addition to openly infringing academic standards and contributing to fraud, the crisis of credibility resulting from medical ghostwriting persists in published reports on the efficacy and safety of proposed treatments. The situation is so dire that the public is forced to seek judicial intervention to curb dangerous, unethical medical ghostwriting. Stakeholders, including universities, journals, pharmaceutical companies, and academic KOLs, have largely failed to heed public calls for honesty in reporting clinical research. Since these complaints have fallen on deaf ears, we believe the courts now have the task of restoring the integrity of the medical literature.
We wish to thank Michael Baum for suggestions on style. We also thank Trudo Lemmens for the invitation to BE and LM to present parts of this paper at “The Ethics of Ghost Authorship in Biomedical Research: Concerns and Remedies,” Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, May 4, 2011.
Conceived and designed the experiments: XB BE LM. Analyzed the data: XB BE LM. Wrote the first draft of the manuscript: XB BE LM. Contributed to the writing of the manuscript: XB BE LM. ICMJE criteria for authorship read and met: XB BE LM. Agree with manuscript results and conclusions: XB BE LM. Jointly developed the structure and arguments of the paper: XB BE LM. Made critical revisions and approved final version: XB BE LM.
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- Despite growing concern about medical ghostwriting, pharmaceutical companies, universities, medical journals, and communication companies employing ghostwriters have thus far failed to adequately stem the problem. As a result, some commentators have proposed that legal remedies could be sought by patients harmed by drugs publicized in ghostwritten papers.
- In this Essay, we build on a recent analysis by Stern and Lemmens in PLoS Medicine to outline specific areas of legal liability.
- For example, when an injured patient's physician directly or indirectly relies upon a journal article containing false or manipulated safety and efficacy data, the authors, including guest authors, can be held legally liable for patient injuries.
- In addition, guest authors of ghostwritten articles published by Medicare- and Medicaid-recognized peer-reviewed medical journals used as clinical evidence for indications for off-label uses may be liable under the federal False Claims Act for inducing the United States government to reimburse prescriptions under false pretenses.
- Paying guest authors of ghostwritten papers may influence clinical judgment, increase product sales and government health care costs, and put patients at risk by misrepresenting risk-benefit. Therefore, both physicians and sponsor companies may be liable under the federal Anti-Kickback Statute.
- Although guest authors and pharmaceutical defendants may argue a First Amendment right to participate in ghostwriting, the US Supreme Court has firmly held that the First Amendment does not shield fraud.
For other uses, see Ghostwriter (disambiguation).
A ghostwriter is hired to write literary or journalistic works, speeches or other texts that are officially credited to another person as the author. Celebrities, executives, participants in timely news stories, and political leaders often hire ghostwriters to draft or edit autobiographies, memoirs, magazine articles, or other written material. In music, ghostwriters are often used to write songs, lyrics and instrumental pieces. Screenplay authors can also use ghostwriters to either edit or rewrite their scripts to improve them.
Usually, there is a confidentiality clause in the contract between the ghostwriter and the credited author that obligates the former to remain anonymous. Sometimes the ghostwriter is acknowledged by the author or publisher for his or her writing services, euphemistically called a "researcher" or "research assistant", but often the ghostwriter is not credited.
Ghostwriting (or simply "ghosting") also occurs in other creative fields. Composers have long hired ghostwriters to help them to write musical pieces and songs; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an example of a well-known composer who was paid to ghostwrite music for wealthy patrons. Ghosting also occurs in popular music. A pop music ghostwriter writes lyrics and a melody in the style of the credited musician. In hip hop music, the increasing use of ghostwriters by high-profile hip-hop stars has led to controversy. In the visual arts, it is not uncommon in either fine art or commercial art such as comics for a number of assistants to do work on a piece that is credited to a single artist. However, when credit is established for the writer, the acknowledgement of their contribution is public domain and the writer in question would not be considered a ghostwriter.
A consultant or career-switcher may pay a ghostwriter to write a book on a topic in their professional area, to establish or enhance her credibility as an 'expert' in their field. Public officials and politicians employ "correspondence officers" to respond to the large volume of official correspondence. A number of papal encyclicals have been written by ghostwriters. A controversial and scientifically unethical practice is medical ghostwriting, where biotech or pharmaceutical companies pay professional writers to produce papers and then recruit (via a payment or as a perk) other scientists or physicians to attach their names to these articles before they are published in medical or scientific journals. Some university and college students hire ghostwriters from essay mills to write entrance essays, term papers, theses, and dissertations. This is largely considered unethical unless the actual ghostwriting work is just light editing.
Ghostwriters are hired for numerous reasons. In many cases, celebrities or public figures do not have the time, discipline, or writing skills to write and research a several-hundred page autobiography or "how-to" book. Even if a celebrity or public figure has the writing skills to pen a short article, they may not know how to structure and edit a several-hundred page book so that it is captivating and well-paced. In other cases, publishers use ghostwriters to increase the number of books that can be published each year under the name of well-known, highly marketable authors, or to quickly release a topical book that ties in with a recent or upcoming newsworthy event.
Ghostwriters may have varying degrees of involvement in the production of a finished work. Some ghostwriters are hired to edit and clean up a rough draft or partially completed work, while others are hired to do most of the writing based on an outline provided by the credited author. For some projects, such as creating an autobiography for a celebrity, ghostwriters will do a substantial amount of research. Ghostwriters are also hired to write fiction in the style of an existing author, often as a way of increasing the number of books that can be published by a popular author.
Ghostwriters will often spend a period from several months to a full year researching, writing, and editing nonfiction and fiction works for a client. Ghostwriters are paid either per page, per each word or via total word count, with a flat fee, with a percentage of the royalties of the sales, or by using some combination thereof.
The division of work between the ghostwriter and the credited author varies a great deal. In some cases, the ghostwriter is hired to edit a rough draft of a mostly completed manuscript. In this case, the outline, ideas and much of the language in the finished book or article are those of the credited author. If it is agreed upon, for example in a signed contract, the ghostwriter will sign over all the rights to everything he or she adds into the work that is not otherwise copyrighted to someone else. In many cases, a ghostwriter handles most of the writing, using concepts and stories provided by the credited author. In this case, a ghostwriter will do extensive research on the credited author or their subject area of expertise. It is rare for a ghostwriter to prepare a book or article with no input from the credited author; at a minimum, the credited author usually jots down a basic framework of ideas at the outset or provides comments on the ghostwriter's final draft.
For an autobiography, a ghostwriter will typically interview the credited author, their colleagues, and family members, and find interviews, articles, and videofootage about the credited author or their work. For other types of nonfiction books or articles, a ghostwriter will interview the credited author and review previous speeches, articles, and interviews with the credited author, to assimilate his or her arguments and points of view. Most of this work can be done over email via the Internet, through postal mail, phone or video calls, and other methods of instant communication.
Also, ghostwriters may work on accompanying documents, such as treatments for screenplays. Often, ghostwriters will work on related projects beyond the scope of professional ghostwriting, such as marketing, promotions, sales, publishing or other related services for pay, in order to procure more clients and increase the total amount of their business.
Remuneration and credit
Ghostwriters will often spend from several months to a full year researching, writing, and editing nonfiction and fiction works for a client, and they are paid based on a price per hour, per word or per page, with a flat fee, or a percentage of the royalties of the sales, or some combination thereof. Some ghostwriters charge for articles "$4 per word and more depending on the complexity" of the article.Literary agent Madeleine Morel states that the average ghostwriter's advance for work for major book publishers is "between $15,000 and $75,000". These benchmark prices are mirrored approximately in the film industry by the Writer's Guild, where a Minimum Basic Agreement gives a starting price for the screenplay writer of $37,073 (non-original screenplay, no treatment).
However, the recent shift into the digital age (15–20% world market share of books by 2015) has brought some changes, by opening newer markets that bring their own opportunities for authors and writers—especially on the more affordable side of the ghostwriting business. One such market is the shorter book, best represented at the moment by Amazon's Kindle Singles imprint: texts of 30,000 words and under. Such a length would have been much harder to sell before digital reader-technologies became widely available, but is now quite acceptable. Writers on the level of Ian McEwan have celebrated this recent change, mainly for artistic reasons.
As a consequence, the shorter format makes a project potentially more affordable for the client/author. Manhattan Literary, a ghostwriting company, states that "book projects on the shorter side, tailored to new markets like the Kindle Singles imprint and others (30,000–42,000 words) start at a cost of $15,000". And this shorter book appears to be here to stay. It was once financially impractical for publishers to produce such novella-length texts (they would have to charge too much); but this new market is, by 2015, already substantial and has been projected to be a solid part of the future of book publishing. So, with its appearance the starting price for the professional book writer has come down by about half, but only if this shorter format makes sense for the client.
On the upper end of the spectrum, with celebrities that can all but guarantee a publisher large sales, the fees can be much higher. In 2001, the New York Times stated that the fee that the ghostwriter for Hillary Clinton's memoirs will receive is probably about $500,000 of her book's $8 million advance, which "is near the top of flat fees paid to collaborators".
There is also the consideration of different benchmarks in different countries. In Canada, The Writers' Union has established a minimum fee schedule for ghostwriting, starting at $40,000 for a 200–300 page book, paid at various stages of the drafting of the book. Research fees are an extra charge on top of this minimum fee. In Germany, the average fee for a confidential ghostwriting service is about $100 per page. The Editorial Freelancers Association also suggests rates of 26 cents to 50 cents per word, which would be about $15,000 to $30,000 for a 250-page book.
A recent availability also exists, of outsourcing many kinds of jobs, including ghostwriting, to offshore locations like India, China and the Philippines where the customer can save money.Outsourced ghostwriters, whose quality levels vary widely, complete 200-page books for fees ranging between $3000 and $5000, or $12–$18 per page. The true tests of credibility—the writer's track record, and samples of his or her craft—become even more important in these instances, when the writer comes from a culture and first-language that are entirely different from the client's.
In some cases, ghostwriters are allowed to share credit. For example, a common method is to put the client/author's name on a book cover as the main byline (by Author's Name) and then to put the ghostwriter's name underneath it (as told to Ghostwriter's Name). Sometimes this is done in lieu of pay or in order to decrease the amount of payment to the book ghostwriter for whom the credit has its own intrinsic value. Also, the ghostwriter can be cited as a coauthor of a book, or listed in the movie or film credits when having ghostwritten the script or screenplay for a film production.
For nonfiction books, the ghostwriter may be credited as a "contributor" or a "research assistant". In other cases, the ghostwriter receives no official credit for writing a book or article; in cases where the credited author or the publisher or both wish to conceal the ghostwriter's role, the ghostwriter may be asked to sign a nondisclosure contract that legally forbids any mention of the writer's role in a project. Some have made the distinction between 'author' and 'writer,' as ghostwriter Kevin Anderson explains in a Washington Post interview: "A ghostwriter is an interpreter and a translator, not an author, which is why our clients deserve full credit for authoring their books."
Ghostwriters are widely used by celebrities and public figures who wish to publish their autobiographies or memoirs. The degree of involvement of the ghostwriter in nonfiction writing projects ranges from minor to substantial. Various sources explain the role of the ghostwriter and how competent writers can get this kind of work. In some cases, a ghostwriter may be called in just to clean up, edit, and polish a rough draft of an autobiography or a "how-to" book. In other cases, the ghostwriter will write an entire book or article based on information, stories, notes, and an outline, interview sessions with the celebrity or public figure. The credited author also indicates to the ghostwriter what type of style, tone, or "voice" they want in the book.
In some cases, such as with some "how-to" books, diet guides, or cookbooks, a book will be entirely written by a ghostwriter, and the celebrity (e.g., a well-known musician or sports star) will be credited as author. Publishing companies use this strategy to increase the marketability of a book by associating it with a celebrity or well-known figure. In several countries before elections, candidates commission ghostwriters to produce autobiographies for them so as to gain visibility and exposure. Two of John F. Kennedy's books are almost entirely credited to ghostwriters.Donald Trump's famous autobiography was produced by a ghostwriter. Several of Hillary Clinton's books were also produced by ghost writers.
A consultant or career-switcher may pay to have a book ghostwritten on a topic in their professional area, to establish or enhance their credibility as an 'expert' in their field. For example, a successful salesperson hoping to become a motivational speaker on selling may pay a ghostwriter to write a book on sales techniques. Often this type of book is published by a self-publishing press (or "vanity press"), which means that the author is paying to have the book published. This type of book is typically given away to prospective clients as a promotional tool, rather than being sold in bookstores.
Ghostwriters are employed by fiction publishers for several reasons. In some cases, publishers use ghostwriters to increase the number of books that can be published each year by a well-known, highly marketable author. Ghostwriters are mostly used to pen fiction works for well-known, "name" authors in genres such as detective fiction, mysteries, and teen fiction.
Additionally, publishers use ghostwriters to write new books for established series where the 'author' is a pseudonym. For example, the purported authors of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, "Carolyn Keene" and "Franklin W. Dixon", respectively, are actually pseudonyms for a series of ghostwriters who write books in the same style using a template of basic information about the book's characters and their fictional universe (names, dates, speech patterns), and about the tone and style that are expected in the book (for more information, see the articles on pseudonyms or pen names). In addition, ghostwriters are often given copies of several of the previous books in the series to help them match the style.
The well-known web publicist Keith Acton rose to underground notoriety and disdain when it was discovered he had paid a ghostwriter to write most of his work. Moreover, the estate of romance novelist V. C. Andrews hired ghostwriter Andrew Neiderman to continue writing novels after her death, under her name and in a similar style to her original works. Many of action writer Tom Clancy's books from the 2000s bear the names of two people on their covers, with Clancy's name in larger print and the other author's name in smaller print. Various books bearing Clancy's name were written by different authors under the same pseudonym. The first two books in the Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell franchise were written by Raymond Benson under the pseudonym David Michaels.
Sometimes famous authors will ghostwrite for other celebrities as well, such as when H. P. Lovecraft ghostwrote "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs" (also known as "Under the Pyramids") for Harry Houdini in Weird Tales in the 1920s.
A number of papal encyclicals have been written by ghostwriters. Pascendi, for instance, was written by Joseph Lemius (1860–1923), the procurator in Rome of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. In June 1938, Pius XI summoned AmericanJesuitJohn La Farge, who began to prepare a draft of Humani generis unitas, which LaFarge and two other Jesuits—Gustav Gundlach and Gustave Desbuquois—on in Paris; the draft was approximately 100 pages long. Another Jesuit translated the draft encyclical into Latin, presenting it to Wlodimir Ledóchowski, then the General of the Society of Jesus who had chosen Gundlach and Desbuquois for the project. The draft encyclical was delivered to the Vatican in September 1938.Sebastian Tromp, a Dutch Jesuit, a solid Thomist theologian and close to Pope Pius XII, is considered to be the main ghostwriter of Mystici corporis.
There are ghostwriting companies and freelancers that sell entrance essays, term papers, theses and dissertations to students. Such services are sometimes offered by what is referred to as essay mills and frequently transacted through online interfaces. Despite being considered unethical and leading to repercussions if detected by universities, academic ghostwriting does not represent illegal activity in the United States and United Kingdom.
Although academic ghostwriting involves the sale of academic texts that are written on demand, it cannot be equated with plagiarism, since it does not involve an undisclosed appropriation of existing texts. As opposed to cases of plagiarism that stem from a copy-and-paste reuse of previous work, essays and assignments that are obtained through ghostwriting services as a rule have the originality of their text confirmed by plagiarism detection software packages or online services that are widely used by universities.
Universities have developed strategies to combat this type of academic services, which can be associated with academic fraud, that are offered to students and researchers. Some universities allow professors to give students oral examinations on papers which a professor believes to be 'ghostwritten.’ If the student is unfamiliar with the content of an essay that he or she has submitted, then the student can be charged with academic fraud. However, academic ghostwriting per se does not lead to plagiarism, as is demonstrated by the widely accepted and applied practice of legal ghostwriting.
Main article: Medical ghostwriter
With medical ghostwriting, pharmaceutical companies pay professional writers to produce papers and then pay other scientists or physicians to attach their names to these papers before they are published in medical or scientific journals. Medical ghostwriting has been criticized by a variety of professional organizations representing the drug industry, publishers, and medical societies, and it may violate American laws prohibiting off-label promotion by drug manufacturers as well as anti-kickback provisions within the statutes governing Medicare. Recently, it has attracted scrutiny from the lay press and from lawmakers, as well. It is permitted at some institutions, including the University of Washington School of Medicine, while it is prohibited and considered a particularly pernicious form of plagiarism at others, such as Tufts University School of Medicine.
Professional medical writers can write papers without being listed as authors of the paper and without being considered ghostwriters, provided their role is acknowledged. The European Medical Writers Association have published guidelines which aim to ensure professional medical writers carry out this role in an ethical and responsible manner. The use of properly acknowledged medical writers is accepted as legitimate by organisations such as the World Association of Medical Editors and the British Medical Journal. Moreover, professional medical writers' expertise in presenting scientific data may be of benefit in producing better quality papers.
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Some websites, including blogs, are ghostwritten, because not all authors have the information technology skills or the time to dedicate to running a website. Nonetheless, the style, tone and content is modeled on that of the credited author. Many website ghostwriters are freelance but some are freelancers who work under contract, as with radio presenters and television presenters. Occasionally a "house pseudonym", or collective name is used by the author of the website.
Some celebrities, CEOs, or public figures set up blog websites—sometimes as a marketing, public relations, or lobbying tool. However, since these individuals are typically too busy to write their blog posts, they hire discreet ghostwriters to post to the blog under the celebrity or CEO's name. As with nonfiction ghostwriting, the blog ghostwriter models their writing style, content and tone on that of the credited author.
Classical music and film scores
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an example of a well-known composer who was paid to ghostwrite music for wealthy patrons. More recently, composers such as the UK-based Patric Standford (born in 1939) have ghostwritten for symphonic recordings and films such as the Rod McKuen Cello Concerto. In the film industry, a music ghostwriter is a "person who composes music for another composer but is not credited on the cue sheet or in the final product in any way." The practice is considered one of the "dirty little secrets of the film and television music business" that is considered unethical, but has been common since the early stages of the film industry. In the early years of film, David Raksin worked as music ghostwriter and orchestrator for Charlie Chaplin; even though Chaplin was credited as the score writer, he was considered to be a "hummer" (pejorative film industry slang for a person who purports to be a film score composer but who in fact only gives a general idea of the melodies to a ghostwriter).
The practice is also common in television, as composers listed on cue sheets are entitled to music royalties every time an episode or theme score appears on television. A 1998 investigation by The Hollywood Reporter revealed that it was especially prevalent among animation companies such as Saban Entertainment, DiC, Ruby-Spears Productions and Hanna-Barbera, which often listed company executives as musicians for the purpose of royalties. Several composers later filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Saban Entertainment president Haim Saban, for allegedly taking ownership and credit for their musical compositions.
Musical ghostwriting also occurs in popular music. When a record company wants to market an inexperienced young singer as a singer-songwriter, or help a veteran bandleader coping with writer's block (or a lack of motivation to finish the next album), an experienced songwriter may be discreetly brought in to help. In other cases, a ghostwriter writes lyrics and a melody in the style of the credited musician, with little or no input from the credited musician. A ghostwriter providing this type of service may be thanked, without reference to the service provided, in the album credits, or they may be a true 'ghost', with no acknowledgement in the album.
Legal disputes have arisen when musical ghostwriters have tried to claim royalties, when an allegedly ghostwritten song becomes a money-making hit. In 1987, Darryl Neudorf was asked to work on a project for Nettwerk Productions involving a newly signed artist in their repertoire named Sarah McLachlan. This recording, the album Touch, resulted in garnering the interest of Arista Records. She signed a multi-album contract with them and two of the songs that Neudorf worked on with her became commercial hits in Canada. In 1991, Neudorf was invited back to work with McLachlan on her second album, Solace. In 1993, he filed a lawsuit against McLachlan and her label, Nettwerk, alleging that he had made a significant and uncredited contribution to the songwriting on Touch, and alleging that he wasn't paid properly for work done on Solace. The judge in this suit eventually ruled in McLachlan's favor on the songs; though Neudorf may have contributed to the songwriting, neither regarded each other as joint authors. The judge ruled in Neudorf's favour on the payment issue.
In hip hop music, the increasing use of ghostwriters by high-profile hip hop stars has led to controversy. Critics view the increasing use of hip hop ghostwriters as the "perversion of hip-hop by commerce." This is because of the limiting definition of "rapping" as "...about you expressing yourself through your own words, not someone else’s." Chuck D of Public Enemy thinks this point of view is mistaken because "...not everyone is equipped to be a lyricist and not everyone is equipped to be a vocalist." He points out that creating a rap song may require multiple talents. Frank Ocean started his career as a ghostwriter for artists such as Justin Bieber, Damienn Jones, John Legend and Brandy.
|“||The practice of ghostwriting is one of rap's biggest taboos, and yet many of its greatest hits were ghostwritten. So who are Hip Hop's ghostwriters and what place do they have in a style of music built on speaking from the heart? Not all singers are songwriters||”|
Currently in hip-hop, the credit given to ghostwriters varies: "silent pens might sign confidentiality clauses, appear obliquely in the liner notes, or discuss their participation freely." In some cases, liner notes credit individuals for "vocal arrangement", which may be a euphemism for ghostwriting. In the late 2000s (decade), hip-hop ghostwriting services like Rap Rebirth, have appeared online, which provide recording artists who wish to purchase ghostwritten rhymes a greater degree of anonymity.
Ghost-authorship also applies to the visual arts, most commonly paintings. The extent of the master artist's contribution varies widely, as little as composition adjustments and corrective brush strokes, or as much as entire works. A common practice is use of the art instruction class milieu in which the master artist makes significant contributions to the work of the student who then signs that work as his or her own. Services addressing complete works have historically been highly confidential. Less prevalent are advertised commercial services which may use the term "vanity artwork" as suggestive of "vanity publishing".
As blacklisting countermeasure
In countries where the freedom of speech is not upheld and authors that have somehow displeased the ruling regime are "blacklisted" (i.e. forbidden from having their works published), the blacklisted authors or composers may ghostwrite material for other authors or composers who are in the good graces of the regime. Some blacklisted communist sympathisers have won Academy Awards.
Movies and novels about ghostwriters include:
|Look up ghostwriter in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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- ^Studdert; et al. (2004). "Financial Conflicts of Interest in Physicians' Relationships with the Pharmaceutical Industry — Self-Regulation in the Shadow of Federal Prosecution". N Engl J Med. 351 (18): 1891–2000. doi:10.1056/NEJMlim042229. PMID 15509824.
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- ^Boseley, The Guardian February 7, 1992
- ^Giombetti (1992). "UW's Friendly Corporate Ghostwriter". Eat the State. 6 (19).
- ^Krimsky, Sheldon (2003). Science in the Private Interest. Lanham: Rowman-Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-1479-X.
- ^Jacobs, A.; Wager, E. (2005). "European Medical Writers Association (EMWA) guidelines on the role of medical writers in developing peer-reviewed publications". Curr Med Res Opin. 21 (2): 317–321. doi:10.1185/030079905x25578.
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- ^"Patric Standford". impulse-music.co.uk.
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- ^"Composers say they're paupers in royalty game" - The Hollywood Reporter (1998)
- ^"Gelf Magazine Hip-Hop's Ghostwriters". gelfmagazine.com.
- ^Bradley, Adam. Books of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop. p. 153.