Lizzie Skurnick talks with the Harvard Independent about her prior ghostwriting gig with a company related to the one that packaged Kaavya Viswanathan’s book.
Monday evening, the Indy contacted Lizzie Skurnick, a former editor at GLC, a 17th Street subsidiary. Like Viswanathan, Skurnick wrote successful young-adult titles with the company (before it was purchased by Alloy); unlike Viswanathan, she gained neither riches nor fame for her efforts. Skurnick — now best known as a serious book reviewer — was coming from the other side; working on projects from the Sweet Valley series to Alias spin-offs, she was a ghostwriter.
“A packager basically serves as both the writer and editor of a book,” Skurnick said in a phone interview. “The advantage for a publishing house is they don’t have to do anything — they don’t have to design the book, they don’t have to think about a concept…. They can just say, ‘Here’s $80,000 for twelve of these books.’ They don’t have to do any of the work.”….
“[T]here’s a whole network of writers who mostly do this kind of book,” Skurnick said, referring to scribes who churn out new installments long after a seriesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ original author has dropped out of the picture. As “work-for-hire” employees with usually no royalty or copyright claims on their output, many of these writers labor with the hopes of gaining the connections that might land them a project of their own….
But what about a work like Opal Mehta — a first novel that cannot be openly farmed out to ghostwriters, whose basic appeal rests on the biography and authenticity of its author?
Update: Ms. Skurnick offers extensive clarification at her excellent site.