Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What Does a Celebrity's Name On a Novel Guarantee?

In yesterday's New York Times, Julie Bosman explores the increasing use celebrities make of ghostwriters to assist them in creating and publishing books. We're talking novels, not autobiographies. Since the celebs tend to acknowledge this use not on the cover but elsewhere in the prefatory matter, how much of the actual writing is their own can be difficult to discern. Notes Ms. Bosman, two names on a novel's cover disuade a buyer from purchasing a copy of the work. (Probably, although that fact doesn't seem to be universally true: Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston don't seem to have a problem, although individually they have track records). The head of one media conglomerate, Robert Gottlieb, thinks celebs are likely to continue to shop their written fiction ideas to publishers, and to continue using ghostwriters to assist them in completing their assignments. “They hire a writer, come up with an idea and do a novel that can be turned into a film or a television show. It’s a way to extend the footprint of the celebrity.”

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