Hiring a Ghostwriter: Because Your CEO Has Big Ideas and Very Little Time
Hiring a Ghostwriter: Because Your CEO Has Big Ideas and Very Little Time
December 8, 2016 | Self Publishing | By CT Mitchell
Why Self Publishing?
Self-publishing is great! There I’ve said it – I love self-publishing. It’s the vehicle I use to publish my books and its existence is the reason why I am an author. I’ve looked at traditional publishing but have been put off by all the obstacles one has to go through to get published. I wonder if these hurdles are why so many would be authors remain just that, unpublished.
As well as creating a book, authors going down the traditional route need to source publishing contacts, design the perfect pitch, submit their manuscript (often to people who’ve had all emotion sucked from them at birth) and then wait for the agent or publishing house contact to get back to them, when they feel like it, if ever.
It’s crazy. And if everything thing lines up, you could be offered a contract that you can’t read let alone understand, offering you a 10 – 15% royalty once the advance has been repaid and only after the book appears in bookstores which maybe a year away. All that blood, sweat and tears for a few cents on the dollar, assuming the editor who read your work six months ago had the coffee how she liked it that morning and she hadn’t found out her husband was having an affair with the girl in accounts, otherwise there would be no contract for you even to consider.
There has to be a better way. A way that eliminates these hurdles. And there is. It’s called self-publishing and you can do it yourself. And it’s booming. In the five years from 2008 to 2013, the self-publishing industry grew by 413%.This platform has given authors a voice. And it’s not all eBooks or digital products either. With companies like CreateSpace or Ingram Spark, you can turn your masterpiece into a paperback with their print on demand services.
There’s no need to print a thousand books, drain your bank account of thousands of dollars all for your creative work to gather dust in your garage because you can’t sell them. Your mother can only give away ten copies to her friends at the nursing home and your brother has no interest whatsoever in helping you since you stacked his bike in third form.
But how do you make money in the self-publishing industry if you can’t write or don’t want to write? Well with a growing industry comes growing opportunities. Let’s look at five ‘back door’ ways to capitalize on this booming phenomenon.
Ghost Writing Service
Not all authors write their own material. The most famous writer who uses this approach to some degree is James Patterson. He outlines the story he wants written and he co-authors a lot of his books. The joint author writes the book off the back of Mr. Patterson’s regular critiquing and the finished product hits the book stands usually making the New York Times bestseller list.
Let’s suppose you are good at organising things. You do that in your current job in logistics or you run a team of people, maybe as a sales manager. Being a mum also requires great co-ordinating skills. What if you could put those skills into action by providing a service that wrote stories for authors? You find the writers, bring them under your service umbrella and then market your business to potential authors.
You don’t need to be a writer, just a good co-ordinator of writers to provide a desirable product for clients. And you take a percentage of every job. Sweet.
You love reading, got A’s in English at school or you studied an English major at university. Then editing might be a great career choice for you. The service is essential with all decent authors using editors to fine tune their work. And it’s repeat work once you’ve established yourself with a happy customer.
You won’t need a stuffy office; you can work from home, in an around the kids. The pay is pretty good as well. Authors expect to pay $200+ for a ten thousand word manuscript for a reasonable quality or new editor. If you are established or perhaps have worked with a publishing house or editing service and have a decent rolodex of contacts, then the sky is the limit.
Book Cover Designer
A cover can make or break a book. A masterpiece wrapped in a poor cover will remain on the shelf unread. People buy with their eyes. Think about your own experience in a bookstore. A book grabs your attention. Perhaps it’s the colour, maybe the image or even the title. You are drawn to a book by its cover. It tempts you to pick the book up, study it and perhaps flip it over and read the description before you make the decision to buy.
A cover needs to fit the genre the book is in. It would be unlikely to see a bright yellow cover on a mystery thriller book. That genre typically has covers that are dark, possibly gloomy.
So if you have an eye for what works in each genre and can produce artwork with creative flair that will draw readers to a book, then a book cover designer might be a viable business for you. Every book needs a cover. You can get covers for $5-$10, but most newbie authors are willing to spend $50 – $100 for a cover. Top flight authors know the value of a great cover and will spend $500+ to subliminally sell their books to readers.
Remember that brother whose bike you stacked? For years he’s told you that you have a great head for radio. He laughs at his own jokes letting out a mousey little squeal. While you don’t agree with him, you do have one advantage over him. Your vocal chords could melt a peak off Everest and your impersonation of Sean Connery over the years can now be put to good use.
Audio books are on the rise. Whether the customer is visually impaired or is a travelling salesman craving for some stimulating listening material, audio books answer the need. The sound quality has to be brilliant. No background noise or static and the voice has to grab the listener with every word.
Audio book narrators charge around $2500 for a book. How many can you do in a month
Social Media Manager
There are two basic parts to a book; writing it and marketing it. As a self-publishing author that usually means you need to do both. Most authors suck at marketing. They think that in this social media dominated world that all they need to do is to post their book cover to Facebook or tweet a price reduction on Twitter and book sales will flood in. Not so unfortunately.
Authors need a social media brand strategy. Who is their target market, what will they post, how will they create their material and when will they post. All of this takes time, time better spent writing.
A social media manager can do all of the above and they are in demand.
So as you can see, there is a burgeoning ‘back door’ industry within the self-publishing world. You don’t need to be a master wordsmith to make a living either. The above five opportunities are only the tip of the iceberg. Stake your claim now and join the revolution!
By Lauren Oyler for The Vice
Maya Sloan's intensely collaborative writing process defies conventional understandings of ownership, authorship, and the personal brand.
It's fine to hire a ghostwriter to tell your story, but make sure your voice isn't left out.
Craig Corbett | Published Thursday, December 1, 2016
Write for a reason.
Speak to a targeted group of people.
Be part of the process.
Find the right match.
Leave a legacy.
BY DAWN FIELD | NOV. 7, 2016
I just found out that a scientist whom I greatly admire is writing his first book. Only he’s not. He’s hired a writer to do the heavy lifting. The hired writer’s name won’t appear on the cover. He’s signed on the dotted line in the invisible ink.
Ghostwriters don’t write about ghosts, but waft around in the background like them. Unlike real ghosts, such behind-the-scenes authors deal in reality, turning the ideas of ‘living’ authors into words for them to take credit for.
It’s a rapidly growing field. One that has the positive notions of bringing together disparate talents in an age of internet collaboration to create new projects, quicker, and the negative overtones of a scummy sense of dissimulation born of greed. Look at the debate over best-selling author James Patterson’s use of co-authors to fill his book publication queue more quickly.
The scientist author in this case had the idea for this book, and without this scientist, there would be no book, so his name should grace the cover. Yet, it feels questionable for readers to be sold an author’s name on the tin when there was a second chef doing all the stirring of the pot in the kitchen. Why not just put the other name in the small print, at least? For truth, if nothing else?
I’m certainly wondering now more than before how often this happens. If the use of ghostwriting is prevalent in the writing of science for the public, it seems to threaten the credibility of scientists known for their beautiful, profound, and inspiring words, of which there are now many. Might they be hiding ghosts?
The worst insult you can give a writer is to say their success was due to a ghostwriter, as recently happened to rapper Nicki Minaj. Just as her singing career is built on her lyrics, much of a career of a scientist can be built on the back of one or more prestigious books.
I really admire this scientist friend of mine. Love his science, love talking to him. So, with a distaste for ghosting in mind, imagine my surprise reaction to this news. My first thought when he said he was excited about hiring a writer was ‘why didn’t you pick me’! I shocked myself in thinking that. But the joy of being part of such a project really would be worth its weight in gold.
Of course, I’ve never thought about ghostwriting and he never thought of me that way, but the door was opened and I pushed on it and I suddenly got a very different view from the perspective of ghostwriters.
Maybe it can be a dream job.I would happily be his anonymous ghostwriter.
Getting good science out to the public is a noble cause and fun. He’s a terrific guy. Ah, to write about important things you believe in deeply.
But then my mind jumped beyond scientists.
GHOSTWRITING - THE ROLE OF THE GHOSTWRITER
What if the ‘author’ were someone exceptional from another walk of life? A great sportswoman? A politician? A socialite. A social worker who changed the world? A refugee who made it to the top against all odds?
Now the role of ghostwriter comes into very different focus.
Some people are born with the ability to write, but lack ‘the story’. They can bust a pen like nobody’s business, but they haven’t lived the ‘life amazing’. Many great writers just haven’t been in the place to experience the life of deprivation, terror, ecstasy, or sheer luck that others have. With war rampant at all levels, whether countries, religions, or family members, we can all imagine what deprivation and terror looks like. In terms of ecstasy I’m thinking of being born with the looks to make you a supermodel, the strength to be an Olympian, or the brains to be a genius inventor. In terms of luck, I’m thinking about people who get hit by a meteorite and live to tell the tale, win the billion-dollar lottery, or marry a prince. Someone like the beautiful actress who married the prince of Monaco, Grace Kelly, did more than one amazing thing.
So what if you are a great writer, looking for a super story? Ghostwriting might just then look attractive.
It’s a symbiosis more than a parasitism.
The issue of this type of ghosting most recently came to the fore with the admission by Tony Schwartz that he ghosted Donald Trump’s book The Art of the Deal. Yes, Schwartz had an all-access pass to the life of one of the richest people and should have been the posterchild of the ‘fun’ of ghosting, but his experience and subsequent guilt about taking the money has led him to decry Trump as a sociopath unfit for presidency. Schwartz regrets his role today in magnifying Trump’s position of influence in the world and helping to write a book that put a reality TV show personality on the path to the presidency.
Yet, back to the romantic notion of ghosting. What about when ghosters really do find the right person?
I have completely shifted my feelings towards the idea of ever ghostwriting. For the right story, it could be the adventure of a lifetime.
If you are the right person, you know where to find me.
Featured image credit: Student typing by StartupStockPhotos. CC0 public domain via Pixabay.
Dawn Field, PhD, is the author of Biocode: The New Age of Genomics (OUP, 2015). She is a Senior Research Fellow at the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, a Research Associate of the Biodiversity Institute of Oxford at Oxford University and a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution. She is a founder of the Genomic Standards Consortium, the Genomic Observatories Network and Ocean Sampling Day.
Follow her on Twitter @fiedawn. You can view Dawn's other blog posts via her column.
SCIENCE & MEDICINE
THE DOUBLE HELIX WITH DAWN FIELD
Rampant use of ghostwriters undermines China's international credibility in medical science, experts say
Wang Mingting and Li Rongde
(Beijing) — Allegations that some Chinese authors copied each other's medical research papers do not surprise ghostwriter Shen Nan.
Editors of a U.S.-based anti-plagiarism blog, Plagiarism Watch, made the allegations last month.
Shen, who works under a pseudonym, claims that falsification and plagiarism in academic-paper writing in China — particularly in the field of medicine — is rampant, and that he had personally penned more than 30 papers for Chinese academics that have appeared in international journals.
"Chinese companies providing ghostwriting services are likely behind the questionable articles exposed by Plagiarism Watch because it is so common for them to use plagiarized and falsified materials to write academic papers on behalf of Chinese authors," Shen said.
Plagiarism Watch said in a Sept. 20 post that the papers in question came to light after an anonymous commentator first blew the whistle on one Chinese-authored paper published in May in the Brazilian journal Genetics and Molecular Research. After Plagiarism Watch editors screened the paper with the anti-plagiarism software iPlagiarism, they discovered that the paper shared a substantial similarity to a number of other Chinese-authored papers published in several other international journals.
The paper, Decreased miR-452 Expression in Human Colorectal Cancer and its Tumor Suppressive Function, was presented by a group of authors at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, according to Lindsey Wayne, an editor at Plagiarism Watch. Further investigations by the blog's editors found that the first Chinese-authored paper — and many subsequent papers presented by other Chinese authors and published in the same issue of the Brazilian publication — shared similar diagrams, indicating possible plagiarism.
The agency cited at least 11 questionable papers from Chinese authors from eight top Chinese hospitals, including the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, and another affiliated with the elite Shandong University in the eastern city of Jinan.
Two-thirds of the 2,500-plus papers published in the Brazilian journal included in the Science Citation Index (SCI) last year were presented by Chinese authors, despite the fact the publication had an "impact factor" as low as 0.764, PW said. This has led PW editors to believe that the journal has been involved in predatory publishing practices.
"Can we conclude, then, that this journal or publisher is predatory in targeting Chinese authors? Your answer must be 'yes,'" Wayne wrote in the blog.
The impact factor is a gauge of credibility of a publication based on calculating the frequency a work is cited in academic research over a given period of time. The higher a journal's impact factor is, the more credible and authoritative it is rated. Those with an impact factor of 3 and above are widely accepted as credible publications around the world.
Shen believes some international journals are able to take advantage of Chinese authors because of the authors' desire to gain international exposure as they try to advance their careers.
Dingxiangyuan, a Chinese online portal providing medical information, surveyed more than 1,900 doctors in 2015 and found that more than 80% of those who applied for head physician or surgeon positions were required to have published two to five papers in international journals indexed in the SCI, which is compiled by Thomson Reuters.
In some cases, medical experts were required to have published articles in medical journals with an "impact factor" of at least 3, the survey found.
The study found that 6.6% of respondents said they had hired ghostwriters to draft their papers, and 9.7% said that they managed to have their names published on papers to which they had made no contribution in order to gain a promotion.
Another 38.5% of respondents said they had not resorted to such practices in the past, but would consider doing so in the future.
One doctor who asked not to be named told Caixin: "Everyone has to work hard, and we have little time to access resources such as laboratories to do research. How can we possibly come up with papers of our own in a journal with an impact-factor rating of 1, let alone 3?"
A doctor at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' Fuwai Hospital in Beijing told Caixin that a highly revered senior surgeon failed to be promoted to head surgeon simply because he hadn't had any academic papers published in international journals.
In fact, so many medical personnel have sought help from ghostwriters that it has helped spawn a multibillion-yuan industry in underground academic writing, according to Shen, who holds a doctorate in biology.
Three types of companies operate in this gray market for ghostwriting in China, he said.
Some firms operate as "paper mills" that hire ghostwriters to churn out academic papers for a fee. Plagiarized materials are widely used in these. Some, like the one Shen works for, even have in-house laboratories and R&D departments to support their writers.
Another group of companies specialize in offering translation and editing services, and will approach potential publishers on behalf of their authors.
Other firms serve as intermediaries between medical professionals and ghostwriters, or companies providing ghostwriting services, Shen said.
An employee handling customer services at Nanjing Dehengwen Biotechnology, a biotech firm that also offers ghostwriting services, told Caixin that the company charges at least 110,000 yuan ($16,200) for an academic paper it helps write and get published in an international journal with an impact-factor rating of at least 3. A paper that it ghostwrites and appears in a journal with an impact-factor rating of 2 to 3 costs 80,000 yuan.
This fee includes expenses for laboratory tests and payments to ghostwriters, as well as a written guarantee that a paper will be published within a year, Shen said. Authors also then need to pay a fee of 2,000 to 8,000 yuan to the publisher.
Colorado University associate professor Jeffrey Beall, who has been studying academic misconduct since 2009, told Caixin that many predatory journals that do not run peer reviews on papers they publish — but instead fake the process to reach out to more authors — have turned their publications into cash cows.
In a recent blog entry, professor Xu Peiyang at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' Institute of Medical Information, wrote that the journal Genetics and Molecular Research had published 3,646 Chinese-authored papers, accounting for 55% of all the papers it had produced since its launch in 2002.
Most of the papers from Chinese authors were published after 2007, he added.
The publishers of the Brazilian journal said in a statement in its October edition that it had retracted seven Chinese-authored papers it published in 2015 and 2016, including two that Plagiarism Watch accused of plagiarism and falsification of peer reviews. However, the publication did not comment on whether it was involved in any predatory practices.
A spokesperson for Thomson Reuters, which owns the SCI and Impact Factor systems, told the official Xinhua News Agency that it is looking into the allegations, and journals that condoned plagiarism and falsification will be barred from the company's system.
In 2014, China ranked second in the world with 31,040 papers on clinical research published in journals cited in the SCI, and sixth in the world with 11,597 papers published on medical science, according to a 2015 report from the Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China based in Beijing.
However, research papers from Chinese authors have been under intense scrutiny after a series of mass retractions over accusations of plagiarism and falsification in recent years.
BioMed Central, which publishes more than 200 academic journal titles in the U.K., retracted 43 papers, including 41 Chinese-authored pieces, in March 2015 for using falsified peer reviews.
German publisher Springer announced in August 2015 it had pulled 64 academic papers, including 61 presented by authors from China, over the same allegations.
Xu from the Institute of Medical Information said that irregularities in the writing of research papers and publications implicating Chinese authors could do substantial damage to the process of academic documentation.
"Misconduct in academic paper presentation (in China) could tarnish China's reputation in the global science community and will make Chinese authors involved in decent research work less trustworthy," Xu wrote.
In an online post, Plagiarism Watch urged the Chinese government, institutions and researchers to all be "more responsible and serious, in order to prevent and remove plagiarism in scientific papers going forward."
Amid the negative publicity surrounding medical research papers from China, the National Health and Family Planning Commission said earlier this month it will reduce the importance of research papers in the appraisal process for doctors working in clinical medicine.
"Even in the basic science of medicine research, there should be an appraisal system which values quality more than quantity, such as the number of citations," the commission said in an Oct. 12 document promoting medical innovation.