After a fun hour of playing Mario Kart with my nephew, I logged onto Twitter this evening to see my feed blowing up with the #CopyPasteCris hashtag. As a writer myself (mostly non-fiction – we can totally ignore the embarrassing foray into erotica), I follow a lot of other writers and authors on the platform and many of those had a lot to say about the latest scandal in the romance community.
Now I won’t go into the specifics of the latest scandal – a quick search for #CopyPasteCris will send you into a rabbit hole that you won’t come out of for hours anyway – but the basics are that author Cristiane Serruya has been accused of publishing plagiarised fiction. And because she’s pretty dumb, she not only plagiarised fiction, but she plagiarised some of the biggest indie authors in the romance community. Rather than owning up to it she blamed her ghostwriter.
Now this is where I started to have a problem…
The deeper I went into the rabbit hole, the more tweets I was seeing that were absolutely slating ghostwriters. Below are a selection of the tweets I’ve read this evening along with my comments. And before you read on, please note I’m not defending Cristiane Serruya here, I’m defending the ghostwriting community in general. I really hope the majority of those who have been slating ghostwriters on Twitter are just misinformed about how the industry works.
Real authors put their soul, sweat, and tears into their books, not just slap their name on the cover of what someone else wrote and call it their own. That’s not being an author, that’s being a fraud, as evidenced by the plagiarized work. Bestselling – NOT! #cutpastecris
— Nancy Stopper (@nancystopper) 19 February 2019
Says who? I can think of tons of authors who pass their ideas over to ghostwriters to hash out for them. James Patterson and Dean Koontz to name just two. Can you really call someone a fraud just because they had an idea for a story that they asked someone else to write? Note to the author community – not every “real author” feels the need to put their soul into what they’re creating; like it or not, plenty do it for the money. And if the reader enjoys the book why does it matter if the person named on the cover was the same person who wrote it? This screams of arrogance to me.
So you aren’t really a writer at all? You just purchase the books and let your readers think you can write? I’ll never read another book of yours. I want to hear from REAL writers who put the effort in.
— Susan Williams (@FullMonty802) 19 February 2019
I understand that this scandal is an emotional thing for #romancelandia to go through, but just because someone didn’t physically type out a story, this doesn’t mean they had nothing to do with the story. Most clients who buy ghostwritten books provide extensive outlines for a writer to follow. No, they didn’t physically write the story but they had a lot of creative input in creating it. And, this may come as a shock to many readers out there, but if a ghostwriter is any good at the job, you’ll never know they wrote the story. That’s what being a ghostwriter is; bringing someone else’s creation to life while keeping schtum about the part you played. And is a ghostwriter not a REAL writer? Not saying this is what Cris did – by the Twitter uproar it looks like she gave the ghostwriters free reign – but yeah, most people who purchase ghostwritten work do play a large part in what is created.
Meanwhile I’m still over here wondering why you needed a ghostwriter in the first place. And no this is not me shitting on ghostwriters, I get their purpose in this industry and understand why they are used….just not sure why YOU needed one…
— Andrea Joan 🌊 (@romancingAndrea) 19 February 2019
There are lots of reasons why people hire ghostwriters. In fiction, it could be because they can’t write well in English. It could be because they are unable to articulate their ideas in the way they want them to come across. Or, it could be because they simply have a lot of ideas and want to see how viable the niche is before going ahead with something that’s going to take months or years of their own life. In business, people hire ghostwriters because they don’t have the time to write themselves, because they want someone with more skills and expertise to create their content for them, or because they need more content than they can physically produce while focusing on the more important parts of running their business. Since when did writers become so judgemental?
Your entire career is based on fraud. What peril? Being busted? It was bound to happen one day.
— Ruth G Juliano (@RuthGJuliano) 19 February 2019
Yeah, hiring a ghostwriter isn’t fraudulent. It’s completely legal and a legitimate business. Not properly checking what her ghostwriter produced was stupid and definitely something she should be called out for. As is not paying a decent wage. But hiring a ghostwriter? Nope, completely legit.
Sweetie, you have no one to blame here but your own self. You have no innocence to prove. Write your own books next time, if you know how.
— 🐙 Black&Blue 🐙 (@PopessAllyBlue) 19 February 2019
Perhaps you might try WRITING YOUR OWN DAMN BOOKS.
— 🌊🌊Malcolm Nance’s Woodchipper of Justice🌊🌊 (@mampdx) 19 February 2019
I’ll bet my collection of romance books that you didn’t write one book. You’re a scammer.
— Proud Native Texan (@txwlknhrslvr) 19 February 2019
Girl, just stop. As if the plagiarism isn’t bad enough, you’re over here talking about ghostwriters like you’re some big time celebrity. If you’re using a ghostwriter at this stage then you’re not a real author.
— Chaeya the Empress (@Chaeya007) 19 February 2019
The above all cover more condescending points of view… and trust me, there’s loads more where these came from. I get that so many “authors” like to feel morally superior to the rest of us mere mortals because they have the time and energy to sit at a laptop all day hashing out words. And I’m not saying it’s easy – trust me, I know it’s not. But the amount of authors who judge others for the way they work blows my mind. I’ve seen it all on Twitter – “blah blah you write too fast, your books have to be rubbish”. “I spent ten years on my novel and I don’t care if I don’t make a penny, I just know I’m a real writer and that’s what matters”. Yeah, I’m really happy for you. But just because someone works in a different way to you, this doesn’t automatically make them worse than you. Again, quit it with the judgement. You just come across as arrogant, and as a reader – I ain’t ever gonna read your books if this is how you portray yourself.
At the end of the day what Cristiane did was wrong; I’m not denying that. She failed to properly edit the works that she had produced, and she found out the hard way why you shouldn’t pay peanuts to writers. Although all this hating on ghostwriters has got to stop. By all means, hate on the fact that plagiarism occurred, and support those authors who have been affected by the plagiarism, but don’t hate on those of us who ghostwrite for a living. The majority of us just need a way to pay the bills and rent, and are damn good at what we do. For the record, we’re also not scammers, plagiarists, frauds, or arrogant. We keep our mouths shut about what we create and when one project is complete, we move onto the next one – no questions asked.
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