The desire for fame and status has destroyed more lives than the cholera.
According to the post I linked in the above paragraph, an author of an apparently-beloved YA book series (vampire-themed, as so many of these things are these days, sigh), has had her work taken from her and given to a “ghostwriter” because Evil Corporate Publisher, etc. But as you read further (and as is pointed out by a few helpful commenters), the writer in question, one L.J. Smith, wasn’t actually what we think of as an “author.” You know, someone who has a burning need to write a story that they created themselves out of their ideas, dreams, and experience. Instead, she had been hired on to pen a YA series for this publisher, Harper-Collins. Hired on to write something isn’t quite the same thing as you approaching a publisher yourself with your manuscript(s). And it looks like what happened is she either didn’t read the contract or have it read for her by someone more qualified, or she did and didn’t understand certain things, or she did and understood it perfectly well but hoped that something like this would not come to pass but now that it did she’s having a good old public cry about it.
What can I say. Let’s see, how about: this author seems to have put forth a lot of creative effort on this book series and obviously feels used and abused. On the other hand, she did get paid, and she did get name recognition. Of course, now she probably won’t be able to publish anything under that name because the publisher is going to keep on putting it on new entries to the series even though she’s not going to be writing them. Not only did she sell them her time and effort, it looks like she sold them the name “L.J. Smith.” Oops. Of course, she could just start writing under a pen name, but she’ll have to work her way back up the brand-recognition ladder. That’s tough, but that’s the way the game is played. At least now she has the internet to help her — she can notify her fans of her new name and direction.
Still, it just goes to show that being an “Author” and being a writer are two different things. A writer writes, but an Author gets invited to parties. Writers have been told for decades now that they aren’t really writers unless they are Authors too. And like college degrees, the concept of the Author has degraded over time as publishers turned more and more to marketing “trends” and “concepts” and less to actually publishing books. Maybe this is the real “death of the Author.” It’s about time.