Interviewing (Part 2)

If you write personal experience stories from the first person, as I did with Deo Miller in You Start with One, then you have a decision to make. How important is it for your name to be on the byline? Are you willing to become a ghost? If you write a personal experience story for Guideposts, and it’s not your story, chances are you will become a ghost. Many of the Guideposts stories are written from interviews. As an interesting sideline, Elizabeth Sherrill, a contributing editor for Guidepost, wrote The Hiding Place, The Cross and the Switchblade, and The John Hinkley Story.

Maybe you can tell that I have definite feelings regarding ghostwriting, and I refuse to do it. I will be a “with,” an “as told to,” a “prepared by,” but I will never be a ghost. I’m not saying that it is wrong, but I think it is time that those who write the articles and books get credit where credit is due.

When you see one name on a book, followed by a “with” and a second name, the first name is usually who the book is about, and the second name is the person who wrote it. If there are two names on the book and no “with,” then chances are the two authors collaborated, and both participated in the writing.

When you see a first-person story in a magazine with two authors’ names, the first name is the person who the story is about. The “as told to” is the person the story was told to and who wrote the article. Sometimes curriculum and Bible studies have no name on the cover, but inside is the name preceded by “prepared by.” That is usually the person who wrote the leader’s guide, curriculum, etc.