Archives for November 2010

Ghostwriter or College Cheat’s Companion? The Sordid World of Paper Writing Services

I recently received the following email: Dear Madam, I see you are a ghostwriter. Can you help me? I must go to UK on a study holiday. Please can you give me your phone number so my teachers can call you and you can verify my work? Please can you write a report on my satisfactory work? Thank you.

I must admit my reply was disingenuous, rather than writing: No I won't you lazy cheat I said I didn't understand. Why could he not ask his real supervisor in the UK to phone and to write the report? Why did he need me? Of course, he didn't continue the correspondence! It left a nasty taste in my mouth, though. For him ''ghostwriter” was synonymous with “person who will help me cheat”. Well, you picked the wrong person, mate!

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education  called The Shadow Scholar made me think of the whole murky sordid unethical area of essay writing services, called paper writing services in the US. The writer Ed Dante (not his real name) is supposedly coming clean about his academic paper ghostwriting service and how widespread cheating is in the academic world. But all I could think of was 'you unethical loser.' He boasts in the feature about how much he made writing in the stead of the hopeless, hapless and dishonest. He quotes examples from Ph.D students who can barely string a sentence together as if we're supposed to be horrified that they resort to his services. Well, hello? People have always cheated. The only horror I felt was that someone talented enough to write academic papers for other people had so shamelessly sold his soul to make money. For God's sake! Where are your morals, man? How many people have you helped get qualified and put in positions of responsibility who should never be there?

I am the daughter of older Scots parents with a razor sharp work ethic which has sliced its way into every area of my life. (It's probably why I can't ever 'relax' and always have to be on the go 'doing' something!) My father used to say 'Get your qualifications, they can never take them away from you.' And so I did. O levels, A levels, degree, three postgraduate qualifications (the most recent just four years ago!) And all of those involved study, sacrifice, hard work and, yes where Warwick University was concerned – a hell of a lot of partying too. But I still wrote all my essays myself. I once had to read 14 novels in two weeks because of leaving things to the last minute, but bloody hell, I did it. And I can say, hand on heart, that apart from telling everyone in my class at school to 'vote for me and I'll vote for you,' in the form captain election when I was six years old (and then promptly voting for myself – I won of course!), I have never cheated.

So here's my message to students – do the work yourself. You learn from your failures, stress is part of life and certainly part of the world of work – get over it!

But my message to people like Mr 'Dante'  is stronger than that. Shame on you.

Stand By Me Video – Inspirational Stuff!

I know this is not a 'writing' or 'ghostwriting' topic, but it is all about creativity and sharing and what that can achieve. This inspirational video was sent to me this morning and is part of the project Playing For Change (fabulous double meaning in that name as you will see!)


The Meerkat Ghostwriter

Compare the Merrkat Ghostwriter I knew from the moment I saw the new Compare the Meerkat/Compare the Market publicity campaign back in 2009 that it would be a huge hit. Who couldn’t love the crazy Russian meerkat Aleksandr Orlov and his trademark ‘seemples’ sign off? And what  a brilliant idea from the ad agency VCCP who actually created a real compare the meerkat website! In fact it was a couple of drunk creative guys who thought up the campaign idea in a pub, as you will see from the You Tube video below.


When back in the Uk last week I noticed WH Smiths had Aleksandr’s autobiography A Simples Life displayed prominently on its shelves and it is now an Amazon bestseller standing at number two, which is no mean feat. It’s expected to be the Christmas number one, which will no doubt delight!

I don’t wish to cast aspersions on Aleksandr’s writing skills but it is pretty well known that he didn’t write the book himself (just look at those claws for a start!) and rumours have been circulating about who his ghostwriter could be.

The lady in question is Val Hudson, a former publisher with 25 years in the industry who left Headline  last year. She is no stranger to ghostwriting, having worked with Billy Connelly and Cliff Richard, but I believe Aleksandr must be her most prestigious client to date. His ‘Simples’ catchphrase has even entered the latest Collins English Dictionary!