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  • Writer's pictureThe Noteworthy Conversation

With Halloween just a few days away, we're celebrating the Noteworthy way: exploring the hair-rising, spine-chilling, blood-curdling topic of...ghostwriting. While this term may conjure up images of the dearly departed scribbling away at a desk, ghostwriting simply refers to when a person is hired to write something with the official credit going to another, usually with the understanding that the ghostwriter is never revealed as the true creator responsible for the work.

Although there are well-known instances of the practice dating back hundreds of years, the actual term "ghostwriting" was coined in 1921 by Walter "Christy" Walsh (December 2, 1891-December 29, 1955), who worked as a writer, cartoonist, and sports agent. He is even considered to be the first agent in baseball. Walsh understood public relations and hired a team of ghostwriters to produce articles and books on behalf of his players. Discretion, however, was often overlooked by Walsh, as he chose to give credit where credit was due. Walsh is quoted as saying, “Don’t insult the intelligence of the public by claiming these men write their own stuff.”


Why Use Ghostwriters?

If a person decides to utilize the services of a ghostwriter, it's because this method is the most effective way to achieve the desired end result, that result being a well-researched, well-written piece of material delivered on time. This could be because the person is overburdened with other responsibilities and cannot produce the work by themselves while staying on deadline, or because the person may not have the skillset or discipline to craft this kind of work in the first place.

We see examples of both of these scenarios on all of our bookshelves. Many memoirs from high-profile individuals, including elected leaders and celebrities, use ghostwriters because their schedules do not allow for dedicated writing time. Often in the case of novels or self-help literature, the person listed as the author on the front cover might only be responsible for the premise, but they themselves lack the eloquence of putting that premise into words for an audience. Hence, the hired ghostwriter and a higher-quality final product.


A Name That Sells

Sometimes, however, ghostwriting is a key component of output strategy, just in terms of quantity alone. For example, some of the most beloved and still-recognizable children's or young adult book series of the past one hundred years have been written entirely or in-part by ghostwriters. This includes The Bobbsey Twins (102 published books), Nancy Drew (175 published books), Sweet Valley High (181 published books), The Hardy Boys (190 published books), and The Baby-Sitters Club (213 published books). Edward Stratemeyer (October 4, 1862–May 10, 1930) brought us this approach to book packaging when Stratemeyer Syndicate began to sell series concepts to publishers, and kept up with the high demand through the use of multiple ghostwriters.

The demand for the familiar continues to perpetuate the utilization of ghostwriters for bestselling authors like James Patterson. Publishers know certain names sell books, so they satisfy the market need with a seemingly constant output of new content. Patterson has more than 200 titles credited to his name since 1976 and, unlike some other bestselling authors, does not attempt to hide his use of ghostwriters, nor has this practice appeared to have had negative impacts on his book sales.


The Ethics of Ghostwriting

Utilizing ghostwriters is not plagiarism. Although the argument could be made that in both scenarios someone is taking credit for work that another person produced, with the use of ghostwriting, the person is fully aware and consents to their work being credited to someone else. They are in fact paid for this service and the arrangement is cemented in contracts and the occasional non-disclosure agreement.

Just as Walsh originally argued, the obvious use of ghostwriters and attempts to hide it can be viewed as an insult by some consumers. They might feel they are being tricked or lied to, and would prefer that people not receive credit for something they did not do themselves.

At Noteworthy, our variety of services could all be considered ghostwriting on behalf of our clients. We take on the tone, voice, and mission of our clients in order to best portray their brand in all written content. We ensure that their social media platforms, website content, blogs, and newsletters all reflect their style and goals. Then they are free to reap the benefits of that content, including a wider audience and higher sales.

Ghostwriting does not need to be shrouded in nefarious undertones. Writing, although subjective and very personal, can also be viewed as a professional service, an exchange of goods just like any other product. This is how we work with other entrepreneurs and creatives, so if your content is feeling neglected or not up snuff, consider reaching out to Noteworthy Communications. We can be your very own friendly ghost!

  • Writer's pictureThe Noteworthy Conversation

Words are a powerful thing. They create stories that can change lives. They reveal information that can alter perspectives. That's why we take them so seriously in our work here at Noteworthy Communications. Words, whether in a novel, essay, poem, film, or even in professional copy, have an impact.

This is not new information. People in power have always understood the potential that words can carry. That's why history is filled with instances of attempts to silence certain words, certain stories, certain truths, certain perspectives. We are living in one of those historical moments right now, with this year’s number of book challenges set to exceed last year’s, according to the American Library Association.

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

- Edward Bulwer-Lytton

“Ideas are incombustible. And therein lies your real fear.”

- Ellen Hopkins

Now, we could dive into how the banners of books are never remembered as the heroes of history (quite the opposite, in fact), or why they feel the need to censor voices at all. Instead, we prefer to focus on how book banning efforts tend to have the opposite effect of their intended purpose.

Censorship always backfires. Censoring literature especially only succeeds in driving up readership and piquing curiosity about why someone is working so hard to keep this information hidden away. With the technology and the resources we have today, true book banning is next to impossible. Those who are determined to find the stories that speak to them will always find a way, and the internet, public libraries, non-profit organizations, and passionate individuals are ready to assist in this mission.

“There is more than one way to burn a book.

And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.”

- Ray Bradbury

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

- Nelson Mandela

A term often heralded in the fight to keep books on the shelves is “representation.” Representation is a two-sided coin. It is vital that readers, particularly young readers, see themselves in the stories they read, watch, and absorb. That’s how they know they are not alone, no matter what their own personal story may be. The flipside, however, is just as crucial. To seek out stories, particularly as adults, that show us perspectives beyond our own experiences makes us more informed and open-minded in a world full of people who are different from ourselves.

No matter how deeply some people may dig their heels in, we will never all conform to the same ideals and behaviors. That reality can seem frightening to those who are very comfortable in their own bubbles and who wish to remain there always. Education, however, is the antidote to fear. We do not necessarily have to agree, but we do ourselves a true disservice when we refuse to at least learn.

“Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it.”

- Mark Twain

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”

- Oscar Wilde

So often in the discourse of challenging books, we hear from parents determined to shield the children from material they personally find objectionable. Their compulsion to control the content in schools and libraries is expected to outweigh the training and expertise of those specifically hired to cultivate a collection of materials designed to educate students, expand their perspectives, arm them with information, and allow them to walk out into the world a more well-rounded citizen.

What these book banners want for their child is also expected to be good enough for their classmates as well, but to be public means something: the community as a whole, for everyone. The discomfort of some should not dictate the education of all. After all, ignorance is far from bliss for those who have to live with the consequences of the decision-making of the ignorant.

We expect students to handle school shootings, and even forced parenthood, yet we cannot trust them with the power of information? Words and stories of diverse perspectives have turned into a type of boogeyman, talking points designed to fuel an agenda of anger, division, and bigotry. The only way to break through the fear is to shine a light, because no one should have to read in the dark.

“Censorship is the child of fear and the father of ignorance.”

- Laurie Halse Anderson

“Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.”

- Heinrich Heine

“Read the books they’re banning. That’s where the good stuff is.”

- LeVar Burton

For additional resources on this topic, including lists of banned books any of us would certainly benefit from reading, and ways you can help share stories of all kinds, check out the organizations below.

- American Library Association

- PEN America

- We Need Diverse Books

- Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

- The Book Fairies

  • Writer's pictureThe Noteworthy Conversation

We all lead multi-faceted lives. Every day we attempt to balance the personal, the professional, the obligatory, the entertaining, the relaxing, the essential, and the meaningful. We make commitments to ourselves and to others, and then we have to see them through, or at the very least, deal with whatever the consequences may be of not seeing them through.

For business owners, if we are fortunate, our commitments tend to grow as we become more successful. Our client rosters increase, our schedules fill up, and we need to make some decisions about what’s really important to us and how we approach our various responsibilities, as well as our joys, moving forward.


Keep the Balls in the Air

The value of having a plan should never be underestimated. Through trial and error, we can chart our multitasking course. We can find the tools that help us stay on track and develop a schedule that suits our needs so it’s simple to maintain. Making lists, setting deadlines, and turning good habits into productivity systems are all vital in keeping our priorities well balanced and the various balls we juggle up in the air.

Compartmentalizing is a gift some people naturally possess. Others have to work through the mental muddle and train their brains and their bodies to be in work mode, to be in creative mode, to be in friend mode, to be in rest mode. Getting organized is really about strategy and mindset, but once it’s unlocked, productivity can skyrocket.


Reduce the Number of Balls in the Air

Even still, no matter how well we plan, there comes an undeniable point when we have to acknowledge that our capacity has been reached and concessions have to be made. We cannot add even one more ball to the ones we’re already keeping aloft, and it is at that juncture that we have to start getting comfortable integrating the word “no” into our regular vocabulary. For overachievers and people pleasers, “no” is avoided like the plague. That practice is not sustainable, however, and will only lead to dropped balls. There’s only so much any of us can juggle, after all.

Saying “no” is a lesson we recently had to learn at Noteworthy Communications. After a year and a half in operation, we have scaled to a point where we no longer have the capacity to say “yes” to every potential client or project. While that is a good thing for our business, saying “no” is never something we enjoy. Still, we have to say “no” to some things so we can say “yes” to others, all while keeping our balls from crashing down.

Life is a juggling act and people do it every day. The juggle may never truly end, but we can put tools in place to keep the act manageable, profitable, and maybe even enjoyable. Not every system will work for everybody, but the learning experience of finding what does work for us is part of the satisfaction.

Noteworthy Communications can serve as one of your tools if you’re struggling to keep all your balls in the air. When we reach a point when we can’t juggle everything ourselves, hiring out some of our tasks can relieve that extra stress and ensure that all of the balls we’re responsible for continue to soar through the air.

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