Magic Kitten versus Katie Price’s Perfect Ponies

Magic Kitten children\'s books by Sue BentleyPerfect Ponies by Katie PriceOr is the rise of the ghostwriter a good thing? Former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, in The Guardian, thinks so, “If you sit down and write something and it’s taken you years, and then someone comes along who’s a model or a dancer and seems to have all this money behind them and didn’t even do the work, then people feel resentful and they feel it devalues what they’re doing. What I feel like saying to fellow authors is, if you feel anxious, you just have to try harder.”

There’s no denying that Katie Price’s publicity and the brand she has created around her public persona has shifted the books and earnt money for her ghostwriter. But why do I feel uneasy that all the people who buy and/or read her books would not have the slightest interest in meeting the writer; the person who developed the characters, developed the plots, wrote, edited and re-wrote the stories?

At a time when writers are finding it hard to earn money from their work (The Society Authors report that the typical British author earns 33% less than the national average wage) and when poets get shot down in flames for daring to complain of breach of copyright when one of their poems is posted on-line without permission (or payment), should they join the rising band of ghostwriters?

Michael Rosen suggests “try harder”. I already know it doesn’t matter how hard I try, Katie Price won’t take me on as a ghostpoet. Her business acumen is acute enough to realise there’s no money in poetry. But her business acumen knows that books are a good thing to add to her brand, and, for that to happen, she needs a good ghostwriter.

But where do ghostwriters come from? Writers don’t emerge fully-formed. Writing is part talent, part craft and has to be practised and learnt. You can’t hire a magic kitten to cast a spell on the celebrity to make them a good writer. Poorly-written books will eventually stop selling, no matter how strong the brand. Perhaps when celebrities have exhausted the existing pool of adult and children’s ghostwriters, they might turn their brand to poetry. But I’d need more powerful magic from a great big cat (a white lion?) to bring that one about.

Ideally, publishers would use celebrity-branded books to fund new writers. Then the “Magic Kitten” series could sit alongside “Katie Price’s Perfect Ponies” and writers wouldn’t feel so patronised by a former children’s laureate.

4 Responses to “Magic Kitten versus Katie Price’s Perfect Ponies”

  1. marcys Says:

    You ask where ghostwriters come from; well, they come from the legions of writers making 33% of an average wage. I recently crossed over “to the other side” after learning that being invisible is far more lucrative than signing my name to my own books. Who needs fame? So remember, when you put down ghosts, you may be hurting fellow writers.

  2. emmalee1 Says:

    I’m not attacking ghostwriters, but the system that makes it easier for writers to earn by ghostwriting. What’s wrong with asking why writers can’t earn by writing? Why do celebrities add books to their brand when they can’t write? Why shouldn’t writers be able to put their own names on their own work?

  3. Billy Says:

    I’m sick of the lie she perpetuates every time she goes on TV and talks about “writing”. Even if she “dictated” the books, as some claim, it would be a very bare skeleton of a plot that would be worked over by inhouse editors/writers; from my experience in the industry though, I know this is not the whole truth either. Actually what happens is that all the work from plot to finished product is done inhouse and the celebrity acts as a promotor of the book. Anybody naive enough to think this woman actually wrote anything is completely deluded about how publishing works these days. It’s not about real writers being unable write well enough to make money as writers. Real writers are notoriously bad at self-promotion. The major houses are selling out. They don’t care about “writing”, they care about the dollar. It’s disguting, but that’s the greedy, despicable world we live in today.

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