He’d just as soon publish in private

Ghostwriting private memoirs means "as much to me as seeing my name on the best-seller list," veteran scribe says. Why?

He ghostwrites private memoirs, and he likes it. “After writing half a dozen books that can’t be found in any library or bookstore, I’ve found rewards that mean as much to me as seeing my name on the best-seller list,” wrote veteran scribe William Novak in last Sunday’s The New York Times.


Often, publishers of commercial memoirs or biographies encourage the writer to pay special attention to the sordid elements of a life, because, let’s face it, scandal, crime, addiction and other human failings are more compelling to most readers than the values I’m likely to be writing about. But when a family or an organization commissions a book, they’re more interested in stories, personalities and lessons, rather than adversarial journalism or sensationalism. They assume the writer will focus on the subject’s better nature, which is fine by me. … Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather explore the qualities and actions that will inspire future generations. Chances are, they will also inspire me.

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