Self-Worth in Self-Publishing: Part 2

Some of you may know that I freelance as a Writer and Copy Editor. I was being considered for a huge editing project last year that could have earned me thousands of dollars. I backed out of the deal. Why? Because the newbie said to me: “I’m approaching this book as a business. I came up with the idea when I saw everyone creating ebooks and thought I could get in on it, too. Erotica seems to sell very well.” He hasn’t written a word in his life, except maybe a college paper that he plagiarized last year.

He had a ghostwriter working on oh-gee-we-need-another-erotic-vampire story, because the market doesn’t have enough bandwagon copycat Twilight novels. That was his grand inspiration. He got my free consultation, my proposal for the job and I allowed him to ask me anything. But when he wanted to continue to pick my brain about Social Media promotion and learn all the tips and not commit to the project, I set my boundary and cut him off quickly. He was an opportunist, not an author. I don’t work for opportunists. Apparently, this ghostwriter had no problem working for him, and I’m sure she was not getting paid her self-worth.     

From my freelancing accounts, I have seen these jobs posted in the last week alone:

You must write and speak English fluently, be capable of writing 2-3 books per week, and capable of writing in various genres. The price listed is per ebook written. Again, this is for a long term relationship of writing up to 50-100 ebooks.” Budget: $60 or less

That’s the entire post. No criteria for this book project. Onward…

“Your writing must be HIGH QUALITY, GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT, 100% ORIGINAL CONTENT THAT WILL PASS COPYSCAPE. It must be an eBook that will help attract 5 star reviews on Kindle.I am willing to pay $70 for 7,000 words to start. Please only apply if you can meet my expectations in regards to high quality, grammatically correct, 100% original content that will pass copyscape. Otherwise, do not waste your time or mine if you cannot fulfill the above requirements.”

Notice the grammatical errors in this post. Most people who scream (CAPS!!) about passing Copyscape are plagiarizing in some other way, guaranteed. Who is wasting whose time? Professionals, true professionals are not going to accept the payment terms, and they should not.  

Here’s more…

“I would require a ghostwriter for my kindle ebook on Erotica. If you can write good Erotica E-book, please submit your proposal on the characters, the plot etc so we can move forward to discuss more. Estimated duration: 1 – 2 weeks Num. of words: 15000″ Budget: $75

“Looking to hire an e-book writer capable of writing quality non-fiction books on topics that I provide to you. You must be able to research the topic and write an original, quality book. 4000-10000 words is ideal, and proper grammar and spelling is necessary. I’m willing to pay $1.00 per 100 words. If you can provide me with quality books quickly, I will provide you with steady income.”

Outline & Structure: Hi, I am seeking someone to to write an eBook for me on the subject of proofreading. The book needs to be around 12 pages long with around 700 words per page.” 

Do you even know how this book writing thing works? I had to respond to this post as well. I politely informed him that publishing industry standards are 250 words per print page and approximately 300 words per electronic page. I then asked him to clarify the project based upon those standards. Only 58 words per page or a two-page book, because there’s no getting around the way the pages will format on Kindle devices so readers can actually read it.  

Over the last few years, I’ve been asked to do book reviews, not for payment. I don’t offer the service and I never will. Most people don’t want the truth. They want 5 star reviews because Amazon and others hype their advice to indie authors about customer programs and how to tap into it.  The higher the stars, the more their book will be seen. It also exposes the scams some authors are pulling on their own readers, too. Transparency is great, but sometimes something is so see-through, people miss it entirely.   

I can spot fake reviews a mile away. And paying for fake book reviews is running rampant. This discredits all authors and scams the readers.

But this guy puts it right out there:

“Post Fake 5 star reviews to google plus page, please be located in the US (for SEO purposes) I will provide you with content.”

Of course he will provide the content. Nothing says” fake” better than “I’ll tell you what to write.”

On my freelancing job hunts, I came across posts that I feel should be shared. If I can post comments without bidding on these projects, I do so. Why? Because it educates the person posting on how things are done professionally. There will always be someone who sells out and participates in their farse to make a quick buck, but it won’t be me.

Here is another ad I passed up:   

“We would like you to write and post book reviews. Ideally these reviews need to be ‘verified’ and you should have a Prime account. Please quote for writing and posting 5 reviews. Each review needs to be 300-500 words and should be a balanced critique.” Budget: $20-25

You know about Amazon Prime? Prime is a subscription service through Amazon that you can download as many books you want as part of the “lending library”. When an indie author is bombarded by Amazon to allow their books to be included in the lending library, Prime member download the ebook, don’t have to pay extra and can also leave reviews. So this person is looking to give their book away for free to tap into the KDP Global Fund. They don’t want honest book sales. They don’t want “balanced critique”. They want 5 star reviews because they believe the hype that they will become a famous author and they’re willing to pay more than they will earn through actual book sales to get recognized.

What do not realize is that they will become forgettable in about an hour, as Amazon updates its internal search results.

When a book has 5 star reviews down one side of their book detail page, and 1 star reviews down the other, as a reader, take the advice on the 1 star reviews because those people are telling the truth and are not afraid to do so.

Here’s an example from one ebook that someone asked me to download for free and review:

5 Stars: “Great writer! Been reading his blog. I’m sure the book is great!” (big reveal – Oops. This reader didn’t actually read the book, but did download it for free and was able to post a rating.)

1 Star: “Self-indulgent twaddle. The book was stupid, quit reading it. Could not make any sense out of it.”


Brutal – but the pseudo-author got back what he put out. I made mental note of all the reviews, read each one. Then I read the first chapter myself, and had to stop. I left a polite, but truthful, 1 star review.

Free or not, readers are smart. You had better be a good writer, and an honest one, or you will lose at your own book promo game. I’m seeing it every day now. I only extend myself on respectful, professional projects and will not be putting out another of my own books for a long time. I want to focus on doing the professional work that helps get good writers self-published.   

I never started writing to become a millionaire. If that means I have to pick berries to survive, then so be it. I will savor each and every berry that I pick. But selling out…

I am not that woman. I am not that writer. I always work within a client’s budget and even mentor and volunteer my services for those that I believe in. But I do not and will not compromise my self-worth to satisfy the greedy ego of others.

It all comes down to self-worth. A lack of self-worth, with missing integrity is an especially bad mix.

Now, if you will please excuse me, I must be off to pick berries.

11 thoughts on “Self-Worth in Self-Publishing: Part 2

  1. Judging from the ads alone, there is an issue of self-confidence. I struggle with it myself, but wouldn’t go to great lengths to have someone write my book for me. What’s the point? You’re giving your words and ideas to someone else.

    I don’t agree with the idea of ghostwriting. I think it’s an excuse to not put in the work. I’m not going to speculate on the issue of talent or work ethic. I just don’t understand the concept. Maybe I need to research it more before jumping down people’s throats. I firmly believe that readers are smart enough to discern what is genuine or not.

    1. As writers, we all struggle with confidence and search for the bravery to put our work out there. Some of the world’s bestselling novel were written by ghostwriters (i.e. Harry Potter), but they choose that path and accept the terms. Are they great writers that do not wish to be in the limelight perhaps? :)

      Why do some many authors write under pen names? Ah, I will leave that question for another post, but there may be a common thread there. :)

      Thank you, as always, George, for your comment.

  2. Spot on. Everyone wants something for next to nothing.

    Funny, too, how the writer always seems to be at the bottom of the food chain. We spend hundreds if not thousands of hours writing and rewriting a novel, for no pay. Most of us will never see an advance from a publisher, and a self-published writer interested in hiring a publicist or taking out an ad in a magazine must pay out of pocket upfront. No such thing as getting a percentage of a return on the investment. Flat fee.

    Then there are the nefarious publishers like Authorhouse (if they haven’t changed their name yet again), who make their money from writers upfront by selling them marketing plans they claim are designed to get their work into the hands of an eagerly awaiting public but really only succeed in parting the writer from their money and getting it into the hands of Authorhouse.

    It’s no wonder most writers can’t earn a living writing. Well, you what’s been said about starving artists.

    1. I remember back in the late 90’s, I had the idea to self-publish. There was no Amazon et al., there was iUniverse (AuthorHouse is now affiliated with them – for those who want to read about it: After looking into it, I was ready to start cutting the paper into pages myself and learn bookbinding, rather than resort to spending that kind of money with no guarantee of return. They no longer list their fees publicly, but their drop down menu does ask if you are looking to publish “For fame”. What a hook! This post is no doubt stirring a pot with some people, but it’s about to be republished on another author’s website later this month, so stir it will. :)

      Thank you again Conrad. I appreciate you taking the time to reply.

      1. You’re very welcome, Cairenn.

        iUniverse, AuthorHouse, et al prey on those who want to believe their work is good enough to compete. 400,000 titles were published last year, most were self-published. And then something like Fifty Shades comes along to give false hope to new writers that they, too, can win the lotto. It happens unfortunately all too often. I swear that book’s success did more harm to the industry than good.

        1. I agree. Fifty was a horribly written book. Period. There is no originality in most books these days, as people are seeing a success such as that and think they can become rich, too. As a result, the shelves are bombarded with vampire love stories, poorly written erotica, and variations incorporating the two. I believe many do not know their own voice. Many more do not not even know what that means. Even more are just hiring great writers and paying them next to nothing to crank out something within 1 week. Some say Literature is dead, but it’s not, among those of us who come from the ‘old school’. :) We know where to find it.

          1. Style, or “voice”, is a thing of the past, Cairenn. Writers are advise to refrain from butting into the story because it’s said it takes the reader out of the story. I think that’s hogwash. I think how something is written is as important as what is written; but again I’m in the minority.

            Literature may not be dead, yet, but there certainly isn’t a great market for it.

  3. I recently discovered a ‘writer’ on Amazon who had a self-worth and confidence that was beyond anything I’d seen before – anywhere. A young man with a ‘series’ of five books. I checked a couple of details, still smiling at the cocky, ‘hey, look at me with my smile and raised eyebrow’ type profile picture.
    Of the five books I only had to read the first few paragraphs of two of them, to confirm that he had neither gone as far as a second draft, or ever been privy to lessons on grammar or punctuation.
    lt was at that point that I checked the content – an average of 90 pages per book. Price? $2.99.
    In his bio he described himself as being worldly-wise, an entrepreneur and self-styled personal advisor to various people on a wide variety of topics.
    Age of this amazing character? 22.
    One of my refreshed lifelong wishes is that I will never meet him, because the result will be that I’ll spend the rest of my life behind bars, and I don’t mean serving drinks.

    1. LMAO! :D!

      This was just the laugh I needed on this reflective Saturday morning.

      Clearly this person didn’t write his own Bio. He most likely paid someone on The royalties of just 3 books would pay for it, and leave him an extra quid to perhaps buy himself a bubblegum on the way home from school.

  4. Great advice. People paying ghostwriters $80 for crap books is what is ruining self-publishing for the rest of us; authors who take pride and their work and just want to be read without the run-around of dealing with agents and publishers. I hope this practice stops, or at least people don’t give up on self-publishing because of a few opportunistic bad eggs.

    1. Thank you, Sam. Ghostwriters accepting low pay is the bigger problem. Most of them do not even know what they should be charging, therefore, they accept any job.

      The true writers are the ones who do not sell themselves short. To be a professional writer one has to be professional, and have ethics. There is no exception. Do it right or get out of the business.

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