1. Posted March 22, 2013 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Hey Amy, I’m going to have to side with the professor on this one. Why? Well, cuz if we are going to be “honest” here, if doing the actual writing of a book was the *sole* criteria of getting your name on the cover of a book, I hate to break it to you, but Hilary Rodham Clinton’s name wouldn’t be on the cover of It Takes a Village nor Scott McClellan’s name on What Happened and all the myriad of other books that use ghost writers to get made.

    Are there research assistants who don’t get their names on the cover? Yes. Are there research assistants who get their names on the cover AND do promotion? YES. Once I asked a publishing colleague what was the difference in getting a name on the cover and not. He replied simply, “Ego.”

    Also, I really doubt that your male partners would have had their book plugged in one of the most widely read feminist publications if it weren’t for your connection. Not only were you crucial for getting this book made, but you are also an asset in getting this book sold. That is no. small. thing.

    Perhaps you don’t care if your name isn’t on the cover, but I do find it really unfortunate that a book whose proceeds are going to help “position girls as leaders” that you weren’t positioned as an expert or leader on this topic in a way that was front and center and would have been enshrined forever on amazon.com.

    • Posted March 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Why do you find it unfortunate if she doesn’t? I understand your argument, but it seems sort of condescending to conclude that, because you find the enshrinement on Amazon more valuable than her role in the book, it’s unfortunate she’s not listed as the author of a book she doesn’t write (and is *offended* at the suggestion that she should be attributed as a writer).

      Perhaps our society’s way of viewing books has an overemphasis on the author, at least for some genres (like large research works that require many, many people to complete). The byline gap is a real thing and a real problem, and we need as a society and as writers to work diligently to move beyond it as much as possible.

      Misattribution is not one of those things. We can change the value of our attributions, so that maybe we can list researchers on book’s covers. She worked as a researcher, which in my mind does make her an expert and leader on the topic (it does in the minds of many others as well- and we can and should persuade those who disagree that byline billing isn’t the only estimation of worth). We should not fabricate the author of the book in order to sell more copies. That dishonesty seems exceedingly problematic to me.

      I also agree that ghost-writing sucks. For example, Barbara Feinman should have been listed, at the very least, as a co-author of It Takes A Village because she co-wrote it. Hilary Clinton shouldn’t have been if she didn’t write it at all (although, from what I’ve read of the story here it seems like notion that she wrote none, or no significant portion, of the book is mainly a fabricated story invented by political opponents to discredit her).

  2. Posted March 24, 2013 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    I am sorry you felt trivialized or like a prop, no one should feel like that. But I’m going to have to go with athenia on this. I don’t know what the prof’s intentions were, however, I would expect anyone who did the amount of research you did to have credit. On the front cover. Perhaps not author credit, but a shout out of some kind. I would expect this for anyone. It also depends on the level of recognition the person is comfortable with.

    What makes it perhaps more unfortunate (at least in my opinion) is that this particular book is on femininity/feminine thinking. While I agree that we want men to join in our conversations and that no one should be limited on how they contribute, especially if they are “smart, conscientious, and balanced”. This honestly seems like the biggest ‘mansplain’ I’ve seen in a long while. Two men have written a book to explain that if women (and men) embrace our femininity/feminine natures women (and men) will become better leaders…

  3. Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    I have to respectfully disagree on one issue. If you want to avoid, really avoid gender essentialism, and you really think both men and women should have certain traits, don’t call some of them “feminine” and others “masculine”. Just call them human. You can explain that historically, and erroneously, these qualities were gendered, but they should not be. That is the real way to avoid gender essentialism.

  4. Posted March 24, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Hilary has consistently stated that her book was not, in fact, ghost-written. But even if it was, the point of ghost-writing is to claim that the nominal author wrote the book – and one could easily consider ghost-writing to be a kind of fraud. Why would you suggest that Amy indulge in such a thing? I’m sure she’s perfectly capable of writing her own book, if she wanted to. There’s nothing shameful about helping on somebody else’s, and it kind of cheapens one’s own writing to be credited as co-author on something you’re not claiming to have written.

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