As I transition from ghostwriting to being a published author, I realize many things wrong with the self-publishing industry, including the fact that more than 50% of so- called Amazon authors have never written a sentence of fiction.
I have been a ghostwriter since 2009 and most of my clients have more than one Amazon pen names. There was only one client who had one book published. This client had his true story entwined in a fictional tale that he needed written.
From the years of experience gathered through the shadow world, I must reveal the reason behind some of the crap you see on Amazon today.
- Most ghostwriters are not English native speakers. Most of them come from Asia (India, Pakistan). These stories usually read a certain way as you can tell the structure of sentences, the use of certain phrases and the overall quality of the work. I am not saying all ghostwriters from these counties are the same, but there is a reason that some clients will not hire these writers.
- These Asian writers charge 10 times less than the standard industry rate for doing the same work English natives would do. Thus, the quality is far less. Most magazines will pay anywhere from $0.05 to $0.20 per word. Established authors who need ghostwriters will pay upwards of $2,000 for a short 40,000 novel. Some “authors” who place their jobs on outsourcing websites like Upwork and Guru, will not pay more than $0.01 per word. It is rare when I get a client to pay $0.015 or more.
- Most clients are not willing to pay higher rates for better quality output, thus receiving low quality work. This all comes back to the rate at which the client is willing to pay. Most clients will ultimately choose the contractor with the lowest bid, even if the one asking for more is a better writer. Some clients will make it clear that they are willing to use a beginner rather than a seasoned writer.
- Clients who publish in bulk don’t care about the quality so long as the word count is met. They set strict milestone deadlines and are irate when you miss deadlines. They have no clue or understanding of how the writer’s mind works. They believe that writers just spew words non-stop and must write 5-6000 words per day until their novel is complete. Because of the lack of writer’s knowledge, they set unreasonable deadlines for writers to follow, and because we need to be paid, we follow blindly along. I have been asking my clients for 10 days to deliver a 10,000-word story. If they can’t give me that, then it’s a no deal. This gives me time to complete, rest and rework the script if needed. In some cases, I write 4 – 5,000 words per day. Other days, there is zilch coming from me. Ghostwriters must work on strict deadlines and (I am also guilty of this) in most cases do not get a chance to rewrite. Now, we all know that no draft is ever ready for publishing. It’s rare that a first draft is ever polished and ready to hit the market. This is one of the issues with ghostwriting. Most of the stories you see on Amazon are first drafts.
- These bulk publishers on Amazon do not hire editors. Most of these clients will tell you that you need to do the editing also. They will not hire you unless your promise that the completed job will be edited and ready for publishing. This is ridiculous, not only because of the low rates they pay, but because we know most writers cannot edit their own work. We try, but gosh, I’ve had to redo many stories and resend them to clients to update on their KDP accounts. Writers, no matter how talented, are not editors (only few are).
Therefore, my friends, these are the reasons you see so much crap on Amazon. Here’s how to tell which accounts are contract publishers from which are actual authors.
- Usually, non-author accounts push out stories rather quickly. They’ll publish a new book (novella or novel) every week or 2 weeks. Some publish in bulk.
- An account that publishes more than one book at a time. If you check the new releases page and you see the same author publishing a dozen new books all within the same day or week, that’s not a real author. (with the exception of publishing houses)
- Their author pages do not have a real photo or real bio.
- Their books have 700 pages, 690 of which are bonus stories.
- Their books are between $2.99 and $0.99 only, never more.
- They hardly publish paperbacks.
- Their series are usually published rather quickly (this due to strict deadlines).
- Every book on their account has a different writer’s voice/style. Some are very good while others are obviously thrash. You can always tell the difference.
I don’t know some of my clients’ accounts but the few I know, I can proudly present their work. One of my clients account was shut down because they kept placing too many links at the front of the book, links to these bonus stories, therefore the sample gets lost in hundreds of links. Amazon does not like these kinds of books. If you have a box set that is different, but they would rather you publish a 20 page short story rather than a 500 page story with so many bonus stories.
Those are the reasons we see so many crappy stories on Amazon these days.