Ghostwriters Respond to Celebrity Cookbook Expose

By Jason Boog Comment

Cookbook ghostwriter Julia Moskin published a damning essay about the cookbook writing world in the New York Times, sharing her experiences as one of the “ink-stained (and grease-covered) wretches” who help write cookbooks.

Both Gwyneth Paltrow and Rachael Ray have criticized the article. Gotham Ghostwriters collected responses from working ghostwriters about the essay. They rejected the negative perspective on the profession and offered some useful advice for aspiring ghostwriters. Check it out:

Adds Melanie, “It takes a special personality to be a ghostwriter. You have to be okay with letting someone else take the spotlight. The satisfaction comes from helping others fulfill their dreams.” And Sheila puts it even more bluntly: “As for credit, the only important place for your name is on the check.

What do you think?

Here’s an excerpt from the Times essay: “The days when a celebrated chef might wait until the end of a distinguished career and spend years polishing the prose of the single volume that would represent his life’s work are gone. Recipes are product, and today’s successful cookbook authors are demons at providing it — usually, with the assistance of an army of writer-cooks.”

The Gotham Ghostwriter interviewees concluded:

On the subject of compensation, Michael says, “Don’t be a hungry idiot, as the article suggests. Be a smart businessperson.” Ellen confirms that view: “The recipe for a happy ghostwriter? Take one part talent and two parts business sense. Never work without a contract! If you negotiate upfront for a piece of the action, you can feel a lot better about your author’s success. And when a chef pulls a stunt like taking your name off the cover to save his wife’s feelings, ask him how her feelings will be impacted when you sue him.”