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With the advent of print-on-demand technology, many ghostwriting companies now offer to write, publish, and promote your book. Most of the package deals offered by these companies, however, produce no results. Let the buyer beware.
As an independent ghostwriter of fiction and nonfiction, I first became aware of scams when approached by a young woman who had paid $18,000 for poor quality writing, editing, and printing. I decided to take a close look at the services offered by these self-proclaimed leaders in ghostwriting.
I discovered several companies that offer the services of alleged New York Times best selling writers for $25,000 to $200,000. I contacted some of these outfits but was never allowed to talk with editors or writers—only sales representatives who gave me a sales pitch, not information. The little information I gathered was shocking. Books could not be more than 250 pages in length since readers were “not as intelligent as they used to be.” The rep also told me that the more I paid, the better writer I would get. She admitted that not every ghostwriter on staff was a best selling author (what a suprise!), but she refused to detail the qualifications of other writers. The fee schedule was as follows: 50% down, 25% after the first third of the manuscript was finished, and the final 25% due when the book was completed. I looked up the company’s owner and found he was a twenty-seven-year-old “kid” with no publishing experience—simply a lot of Internet companies.
No one should have to pay outrageous fees to get a “better writer,” nor is there a length restriction of 250 pages in the publishing industry. The fee schedule ensures that the company has most of its profit when the client grows unhappy with poor writing from writers who are essentially new college graduates.
One should also beware of “publishing packages” by ghostwriting companies that offer to publish your book with print-on-demand technology. For $5,000 to $35,000, these companies promise to give you the names of important industry contacts. The contacts are simply names of agents and publishers, all of whom can be found in agent and publisher directories published by Writer’s Digest or Jeff Herman. But more to the point: Why do you need the names of agents and publishers if the ghostwriting company is already publishing your book? Besides, an agent will not represent a self-published book unless it sells approximately 10,000 copies.
For even more money, the package deals offer to put you onto Amazon and monitor your online sales campaign. Anyone can get onto Amazon for free, however. Likewise, anyone can sign up with Google or Yahoo for free and bid for his or her search engine rankings. Why pay a fortune for such services?
As for companies’ claims to get you into bookstores, they simply send out press releases that your book has been published. National chains, however, do not carry POD books. Distribution and promotion is, therefore, essentially nonexistent in these package deals.
The bottom line is that large ghostwriting firms charge huge fees but do little, if anything, to make you a rising literary star. It’s cheaper to buy Dan Poynter’s SELF-PUBLISHING MANUAL for under $25. Poynter tells you everything you need to know. Buy that new house or send your kids to college, but don’t spend your hard-earned money on empty promises.
There are many outstanding ghostwriters, and some of the very small ghostwriting firms do indeed have solid publishing credits. But always educate yourself about the realities of the publishing industry and ask the tough questions. As for self-publishing, you can do everything the big companies offer for $300 to $2,000. Good luck!