Everything seems to have a downside and that includes ghostwriting. The most obvious is that ghostwriters don't get recognition or appreciation for their work.
First, even if their names are on the cover, most readers don't notice. Immediately, I think of a book signing in Atlanta. I sat on Don Piper's right and people in line came to me first. My name was on the cover of 90 Minutes in Heaven. I held out my hand to take a book from a woman to sign it and then pass it on to Don.
"Who are you?" she asked. "I don't want you to write in my book."
After I pointed to my name on the cover, she said, "I guess you did have something to do with it. Okay, go ahead and sign my book."
That remains one of my favorite stories.
Second, ghostwriters rarely receive opportunities to appear on talk shows, do interviews, or receive any publicity. Early in my ghostwriting career, one celebrity insisted that I sign a contract stating that I would not publicly acknowledge that I had written for him.
That part wasn't a problem for me, but for some writers, it's a deal breaker. "I wrote the book and I want credit," they say.
One ghost demanded that the publisher send him on the New York talk shows with the author and they complied. I watched one of the interviews on the Today Show. Matt Lauer nodded to the writer and said, "And you helped [name] with his book." Lauer turned to the author and the rest of the time the writer sat with a fixed smile on his face and said nothing.
"I was on the Today Show," he boasted.