As someone who is always full of ideas, with notebooks full of thoughts written down briefly that I haven’t had time to properly develop. I was very intrigued by this article about well-known authors using co-authors to help them write more books. This, as you can imagine, causes quite a commotion and divided opinions in the literary world. I have considered this notion for a while now, and have split my thoughts into reasons for and reasons against authors using co-authors (or, in other words, why it might be a good idea and why it might not). My thoughts for it are below.
Firstly, readers clearly want more from certain authors – one book every year or so doesn’t seem to be enough. The author focused on in this article, Wilbur Smith, is pretty old, but clearly doesn’t want to stop writing, but finds it difficult to keep up with demand. He has many ideas, and at age 79, why shouldn’t he have help? It may mean the difference between him retiring with his work unfinished, or alternatively, continuing to develop ideas for as long as he possibly can, knowing that they will come to fruition and be enjoyed by his fans. After all, he’s not being dishonest about it, not passing off the work of others as his own or claiming he has written dozens of books every year all on his own. If the readers don’t mind, then why not?
And let’s not forget the writers themselves. Could something like this give people a real chance of becoming published authors, people who might not have ever had that chance before? Again, it may all come down to honesty – if these co-authors are happy with the arrangement, adding extra flavour and their own twists and turns to the ideas of well-known writers who obviously respect their talent enough to have their name associated with them, then perhaps there is no problem.
You have probably guessed by now that in actual fact I do think there is a bit of a problem with this arrangement. I felt like this post would be too long if I gave my thoughts on the downsides of authors using co-authors, so tune in next week for some alternative analysis. If in the meantime, though, you have any burning opinions either way, feel free to comment.