When Ghostwriter Anonymity is a Blessing

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The topic of ghostwriting has been in the national news over the last couple of weeks thanks to a new book by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. I won’t get into the politics surrounding the controversial memoir in this week’s Daly Grind (I covered that part of the story in a separate piece), but I did, as a writer, want to talk about the unknown individual being used as a scapegoat in the matter.

Like the vast majority of public figures who release memoirs, Noem used a ghostwriter. I’ve got no problem with that. I think ghostwriting is a perfectly legitimate and honorable profession, and I don’t fault non-writers with a story to tell for tapping into it. Lots of very talented writers write under other people’s names (I know a few), and though I’ve never done it myself, I’m not opposed to one day giving it a shot.

What made Noem’s use of a ghostwriter particularly notable is that after some controversial excerpts were released from the book (prior to its release), an account involving Noem meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un turned out not to be true. The two have, in fact, never met.

Noem and her team blamed the governor’s ghostwriter for the “error,” and insisted that as soon as the problem was brought to Noem’s attention, she asked that her publisher revise that passage in future printings.

It was a rather embarrassing admission on Noem’s part, being that it meant she hadn’t actually read her own book prior to it being published. Yet, she doubled and tripled down on the story that she was as surprised as anyone that the Kim Jong Un stuff had made it to print.

Only, that wasn’t true either. In reality, Noem had known word-for-word exactly what was written in her book, because she had read it all aloud when she personally narrated the audio-book. Imagine recording yourself describing a supposed event in your life, and then turning around and denying all knowledge of that description.

My guess is that Noem’s publisher, Center Street, has not been amused with what’s been happening. Revisions cost time and money, and falsehoods in a non-fiction title are damaging to a printing house’s reputation. One could almost feel their frustration in their press release on the matter:

Even with the cat well out of the bag, Noem — who’s surprisingly still doing lots of (very awkward) promotional interviews for her book — hasn’t let her ghostwriter off the hook. In trying to save face, Noem’s refusing to admit that she fabricated the story herself.

The good news for the ghostwriter is that nobody knows who she or he is (well, nobody except for Noem and her team). The other good news is that, at this point, everyone has figured out that Noem is full of it.

Still, as a matter of pride, I’d love to see the mystery woman or man go public and expose the governor’s betrayal. A ghostwriter’s job, after all, is to present their client’s story to readers… not serve as a patsy.


Have thoughts on ghostwriting? Let me know in an email or in the comment section below.

Movie Recommendation

Most weekends my wife and I sit down for an on-demand or streaming movie that we’ve heard nothing about, but has a decent trailer. Over the past several months, the flicks — for the most part — have not been good (some have been epically terrible). But we’ve been on a bit of a roll lately (in a positive way), and last Saturday night we found another good one.

We stopped the trailer for “New Life” about half-way through, because it looked intriguing enough to watch, and we wanted to avoid spoilers. Thus, what we thought was a straight-up, low-budget thriller/suspense film not only ended up being quite a bit more cerebral, but leaned into the sci-fi/horror genre, and produced some surprisingly interesting characters.

Debut film-director John Rosman brings soul, mystery, and depth to this feature, with Sonya Walger (Lost, For All Mankind) delivering a very strong performance. Plus, there are some pretty solid jump-scares.

We Interrupt This Week’s Newsletter for a Special Announcement

For a limited time, my Sean Coleman Thrillers are just $3.99 each on eBook! Make sure you take advantage of it!

Random Thought

Obligatory Dog Shot

Fun in the sun.

Featured Vinyl

Another Record Store Day exclusive this week.

It’s an expanded re-release of the Chris Isaak 2011 studio-album, Beyond the Sun. It features covers of the songs that inspired Isaak, in the actual studio where they were first recorded (Sun Studio in Memphis). This includes Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line” and Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”

This expanded 2-LP “complete collection” includes previously unreleased tracks, including covers of Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison songs.

Catch Up on the Sean Coleman Thrillers

All of my Sean Coleman Thriller novels can be purchased through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Books-A-Million, and wherever else books are sold.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.

Want to drop me a line? You can email me at johndalybooks@hotmail.com, and also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now Threads! If you haven’t subscribed to this newsletter yet, please click on the “Subscribe now” button below. Doing so will get these posts emailed directly to you.

Also, if you’re not caught up on my Sean Coleman Thrillers, you can pick the entire series up at a great price on Amazon. And if you’re interested in signed, personalized copies of my books, you can order them directly from my website.

Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!

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