Confessions of a Ghost Writer: I Dodge a Bullet—Update

Funny story.

As I detailed in my last Confession, I dodged a wild bullet about two years ago, when a dear friend and collaborator referred a gentleman to me who had a book he wanted ghostwritten.

Long story short, a combination of unwillingness to communicate that ran to paranoid secrecy (he claimed to have written a screenplay that was made into a movie “on the big screen in Hollywood” but refused to tell me the name of the movie), insulting comments, fibbing about the script’s success with publishers, and insisting I sign a contract to write the novelization before I had any more information about the story than its title (THE GAME IS AFOOT! in my fictionalized account) caused me to decline to acquiesce to his request.

Fast forward two years: The managing editor at a New York-based editorial service I work with frequently called and left a message saying he had a new client for me if I wanted him. He sent an email with a link that read: THE GAME IS AFOOT! – Egon Egonodon.

I followed the link and found that the Facebook posting looked pretty much as it had the last time I saw it. Did I take the job, you ask, Dear Reader?

I did not.



Confessions of a Ghost Writer: I Dodge a Bullet—Update — 6 Comments

  1. I translated a ‘super secret killer Hollywood script’ into English for a Fred Fictiouson some ten years ago. It started with ‘The mountains are white with snow white as snow’ and went way down from that. Never heard of the movie (no wonder) but the translation agency paid me, at least.

    • Oh, back in the day I freelance edited several novel projects by Hollywood screenwriters. Not a single one of them listened to gentle suggestions about the differences between screenplay and prose, and not a one was ever published. Good money, though!

    • The mountains are—
      with snow
      as snow

      But that’s poetry, that is!

  2. Sounds to me like a lot of ghostwriters are dodging this bullet. Word is getting around–congrats to all of those who missed this one!

  3. I did a Fred Fictitiouson project a little while back for someone who DID have a killer story to tell – and I told it, and I did so rather well if I say so myself. He did pay reasonably well, but then informed me that he was sending the MS I sent him to an “editing agency” – and presented himself as the author thereto – i know because I (accidentally) got copied onto an email exchange between him and the agency in question – and the agency, a dicey enterprise I could have warned him against if he’d bothered to ask, came back with something like, “Congratulations on having written this book. Now let’s work together to make this manuscript publication-ready”. (It WAS publication-ready. My hubby’s an editor. He did at least two editorial passes through this thing as I wrote it, which meant that my Fred was getting that for free. But still. His money.) He spent almost as much on this editing agency pass as he did with me for writing the thing in the first place. And then I saw the finished published book.

    They pretty much changed NOTHING. What was published was largely – with a cosmetic touch here and there – exactly the thing that I had written.

    It was good money but I’d never work with this dude again. And if anyone in the biz wants a name beneath the FIctitiouson moniker, I’ll happily provide one.

  4. I’ve done a bit of this work myself, and I am not surprised at these stories! Amateurs are sometimes hard to educate about the realities of writing and publishing.