A few years ago, Sheryl Sandberg made a stir with her book Lean In.
Except that it wasn’t her book. By that I mean she didn’t write it. It was ghost-written for her, and yet it’s her name on the cover as the “author.”
This is nothing new. Ghost-writers have been used for many years.
The problem is that when anyone can slap a name on a book, what are the qualifications for calling someone a writer? And what is more significant, the fact that someone put pen to page (metaphorically) or the fact that someone is a Big Name?
Sandberg, of course, was already COO of Facebook when she “authored” Lean In.
Big Name wins out, it appears.
Two years ago, I decided to start using this blog as a platform for my thoughts and my writing. One of those thoughts led to writing a short bit about how the smart phone is the new cigarette. It got a handful of views and four ‘likes.’
So I was surprised to see today a piece on LinkedIn about—wait for it—how smart phones are the new cigarette. It has a nifty stock-photo graphic to illustrate it. And it was written (possibly) and posted (definitely) by Tim Bichara, Managing Partner at Nimble Mobile and Co-Founder and Commercial Director at Q App.
It has over 45,000 views and over 1,000 ‘likes.’ In one day.
Now, I’ve never heard of Tim Bichara, in the context of being a writer or any other context, frankly. He has written exactly two posts on LinkedIn. But he apparently is a Big Name.
Being a Big Name means people Read Your Stuff. Yes, his piece is longer than mine, but not more original. The only thing he has that I don’t is an audience, a ready-made following, perhaps from—I can only speculate here—his work at Nimble Mobile or Q App, whatever those are.
Writing, I realize, is seldom about the quality of the thought or the writing. Especially now, it mostly has to do with slick marketing and targeted demographics, just like any other commercial product.
So the lesson seems to be this: go out into the world, make a Big Name for yourself.
Then become a writer.