After the editor explained how the system worked, I thought about the project. It was an important question in my growth as a person and as a writer. I finally asked myself, "Can I write a book and not care who gets credit?"
After serious reflection, I decided I could. In retrospect, I believe it was a wise decision. For a decade I wrote a number of books for celebrities without recognition, and I was fine with that.
In 1990, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story was the first book to carry my by-line as the writer. The font for my name was tiny but it was there. The original publisher, Review & Herald, insisted that it was the honorable and honest thing to do and I didn't object.
Even though my name was there—and it's still on editions published by Zondervan and by HarperCollins—readers often don't notice.
My shift in thinking took place in 1996. I had written a book for a celebrity, who wasn't easy to please. We finally finished the book and in the acknowledgments he credited me with writing a "first draft" of the book. (I also wrote four other full drafts before I satisfied him.)
That book won a number of awards. The author claimed credit and received the awards for my words. That's when I reflected a second time. I had written books for others and didn't mind readers not knowing. But this time, the author received credit he didn't deserve and didn't acknowledge me.
Was I participating in deceit by not having my name on his book? I decided I was. I didn't need the recognition, but I did want honesty. For me, the issue became one of integrity.
That was in 1996, and I changed agents shortly after that. Deidre Knight, my new agent, told me at our first meeting, "You will not write another book for anyone without a by-line." We've held to that.
My integrity is more important than money or name recognition.