The murky world of ghost-writing

Grr. grr… Photo thanks to Keith Ellwood on Flickr and reproduced under the Creative Commons 2.0 licence.

Another day, another joke of an invite from Colorado Fluffies* to bid for a ghost-writing job. Note the marvellous budget they are prepared to pay you for 80,000 words of original copy you will receive no royalties or acknowledgements for… (I did the bolding and added the red text).

Check out the website – it claims to have four authors**, none of whom are pictured, presumably nom de plumes for a stable of writers and a lot more than four of them.

The modus operandi is, I’m guessing, the Amazon rapid release model – i.e. one book a month, which is obviously easier if you have many writers working for you on pitiful wages.  

I’m not against ghost-writing. As a copywriter, I’ve created LinkedIn posts, website articles, opinions and more for business owners in their names for years. It’s standard practice in the traditional publishing industry for celebrity writers, and I have no objection to that. But honestly, the money here is so bad, the attitude so disrespectful to the writing industry and the deadline for delivery so unrealistic, my blood boils…

Hi there! We need several romance eBooks written, of 80,000 words. We’re looking to create an ongoing business relationship with chosen freelancers. We run a big publishing company and we have many projects ready to be developed.

Short and sweet.

Themes of the stories include WESTERN HISTORICAL ROMANCE. The proposed budget for each book is $1.200 ($1.5/100 words). (Oof, you’re too kind!) We are 100% willing to increase this budget up to $1.8/100 words in case quality is of very high standards and adherence to deadlines is kept.

NATIVE English speakers only.

Content should be creative, HIGH QUALITY and 100% original.

It really needs to talk to the audience. Something that they can relate to. They need to identify with the characters.

CAPTIVATE THE AUDIENCE, stimulate thoughts in the mind of the readers. Must be experienced and have excellent spelling, grammar, and punctuation (so as well as delivering 80,000 words in a month, you have to proofread your own work too?) with this type of writing.

All material must be original content and written in your own words. Research the niche or topic (what, on top of meeting that unrealistic deadline?) that we give you in order to understand the MINDSET of the READERS. The project is divided into 4 parts of 20k words. Each part is expected to be delivered each week (a week and a half, max). This means we estimate a period of approximately a month for the whole 80k words. However, deadlines are open to​ negotiation.

The eBook should be delivered in .doc or .docx format. You agree that you will own no rights to the work or parts of the work and you understand/agree your name will not appear anywhere on the work. I would retain all copyrights to any of these stories.

Final Note: We have a big publishing online business, so we would like to hear only from determined and highly skillful​ professionals (offer decent money then) to apply. Thanks, hope to hear from you soon!

*Not its real name.

**You won’t find any of these authors on Twitter… Or Colorado Fluffies itself. 



6 thoughts on “The murky world of ghost-writing

  1. Seems like exploitation to me Emma. It’s no surprise people self publish so they can own what they create.

    I find the celebrity authorship thing bizarre. Listening to some so-called celebrity beings, it’s clear they can’t string two words together let alone write a sentence.

    Rather than a ghost writer, the person who does the research and writes the work should be named and acknowledged.

    • Absolutely! I am okay with ghost writing but only if it is done with proper acknowledgement and recompense.

  2. I’ve seen so many like this over the years. I can see that if a freelancer/author is desperate for the cash, they might do it. I considered these kind of deals a number of times when I was freelancing but in the end I decided that if I could achieve that kind of output, I would be better working for myself and getting a bit more than that! Pus, I’d have the kudos of my name on the cover! The terms are so woolly – what exactly do they mean by ‘100% willing to increase budget’? And how do you measure captivating the imagination of an audience, or stimulating them?

    • I know – and again, nothing against the rapid release model, but do it for yourself… Writing and what people find captivating or stimulating is so subjective, what makes these folks the experts?

  3. I came across an article about this just a day or so ago. It went into the scams which enable unscrupulous persons to make huge sums of money by using ghost writers in this way to tap into the amazon unlimited market. I was appalled!

    • Yes, there is also the book-stuffing that goes on where scammers stuff books with previously published content to increase the pages.

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