• Kaitlin M

Crap By Any Other Name Still Sells

So, you want to know the dirty secret behind the publishing industry's desperate attempts to keep up with the general public's infatuation with e-books and e-readers?

See, e-books really threw the big publishers on their collective asses. All of this material at people's fingertips! The 30K word novella became the hottest selling item out there. And suddenly writers were buying software that let them format their own books for e-readers. Then companies like Draft 2 Digital started popping up. Heck! Amazon was encouraging writers to self-publish their own work. There was so much material available for sale and everyday readers wanted more!

Remember when there used to be a good year or two lag between one book and the next? You had to wait for things. Wait to find out how the story ended. Wait to see what was going to happen to your favorite character. That was how it worked. But consumers got impatient. They liked mass produced electronic books and they were willing to buy dozens upon dozens of these much cheaper versions at a time. Suddenly publishers were needing to really crank up the volume.

Enter the ghost writer.

Now, ghost writing has been a thing for longer than most big name writers would like to admit. Say you have a story to tell but you're crap at writing. You hire someone to write it for you, but pretend you wrote it yourself. Sure. You probably edited the story. Maybe you picked the cover or provided the maps and diagrams. And it was your idea. But a professional ghost writer is perfectly capable of mimicking just about any style they want or need to.

Enter small time publishers looking to make a buck. These people have created their own little publishing empire where they come up with bucketfuls of ideas. (Not kidding. I worked for a guy once who sent me project after project focused on Italian mobsters with virginal daughters who fell in love with bodyguard bad boys. Sound familiar?) They set up a fixed list guidelines for each "Author" and then farm out the projects to ghost writers who typically crank out a 30K word book every 3-5 days. They get paid a penny/word (usually less). Then the "book" gets sent to the company and they process it, clean it up, pay an editor to put some polish on it, and flip it into a title they can sell on Amazon or Apple.

That's the standard process. And yes. It creates really cheap books. But you have to remember that the quality has suffered a lot too. I was writing at such a terrific rate of speed and turning novels out so fast that I KNEW most of them probably sucked. Not that they were bad. Not in the sense of the story being bad even. It was more complicated than that. There is a flow to writing. The voice, the way a sentence is constructed, the way that a story is told. THAT is what has suffered in this new desire to crank out the largest number of books per month possible in an effort to at least make back the $200 you paid someone to write it for you.

Yes. Quality. That's the part that should really scare you. And it's certainly the focus of the next installment of my story.

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