Shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls. Also providing advice for writers, industry news, and commentary. Writer Beware® is sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc.

April 11, 2014

How to Succeed in Authorship Without Really Trying

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Got the yen to write a book, but lack that essential creative spark? Looking to ride the coattails of the Kindle self-publishing craze, but don't want to bother with all that pesky scribbling? Want an author to create a story for you, but don't know where to find one?

Fret no more. The Internet's got you covered.

Here, for instance, would-be but inspiration-challenged authors can "Cash In on the Kindle Fiction Publishing Craze" by purchasing a "MASSIVE SET OF PRE-WRITTEN FICTION PLOTS."

That's right! A diligent ghostwriter and her crack writing team are offering "THIRTY-SIX plots in one huge package!" For only $27! Romance, erotica, science fiction,'s all here, ready to use. Just add a touch of butt-in-chair, bolstered by this helpful advice:
So, how do you actually USE these plots?

First of all, do NOT publish them as-is! Even though some of the plots are almost short stories by themselves, they are not meant to be published in their current form.

Instead, you will use the plots as a guideline and change up different parts to make your own unique story. No two people will write these plots just alike. Change the character names and descriptions. Change the setting. Change the time period, careers of the characters and any number of other plot points.
Don't want to go to even that much effort? Buy Now Books will sell you an entire completed book, ready to upload to KDP or another self-publishing platform of your choice. No research required! No creativity necessary! No writing at all!! Just content, ready to use. You get plenty of extras, too:
In your book package you get the following files:

a. Microsoft Word Source Documents for Print & Digital.
b. EPUB, MOBI and Web PDF versions for your Digital Book.
c. Print PDF for Large Print & Trade Paperback Books.
d. Book Detail File including all Metadata need to publish your book.
e. 5 300 DPI Images that are used inside your book.
f. Cover Art: An eBook Cover, Large Print and Trade Paperback Cover & Audio Book Cover.(includes PSD files for editing)
g. 7,500 Words of Unique Content inside your book.
Prepare for a hit to your bank account, though--these "book packages" cost a cool $397.

(Buy Books Now is at pains to explain that it's not a PLR scheme:
We don’t use any PLR. These books are created with unique content written by our own in house writers. The book is created and SOLD ONLY ONCE. After that the files are deleted from our harddrive and you are now the sole owner of the book, the content and the copyright attached.
Good to know your "ghostwritten" ebook won't trigger Amazon's inappropriate content algorithms.)

And then there's StoryMondo, which crowdsources the whole "get it written for you" thing. They take requests for stories and/or poems, do an email blast to writers who've signed up to receive notifications (and some who haven't--me, for instance), and let the customer choose from among the submitted works.

Just the thing for seekers of bizarre egoboo. For example,
Our customer is Jason Womack who is a leading workplace performance and productivity expert. Jason is based in Ojai near Los Angeles, California and he runs a company that provides seminars, executive coaching and team performance programs. Jason has also written a book “Your Best Just Got Better” and he produces a weekly podcast.

Jason’s requirements for a story are:
  • Stories only (unfortunately no poems for this request)
  • Maximum length of 1,500 words
  • Jason Womack must be the protagonist and the story plot must fit with what The Jason Womack Company does
  • Any genre is OK – but the story must be suitable for distribution to customers of The Jason Womack Company
  • Can be set anywhere in the world or have multiple locations
  • Some inspiration is and
The writer of the winning story gets $250. The writers of the rejected stories get nothing.

(This, by the way, is the same Jason Womack who is running a "make money publishing" workshop at the Ojai Wordfest. Will he be advising writers to use StoryMondo?)

Thus endeth this bulletin from the weird fringes of the brave new digital world.


PT Dilloway said...

If you can't be bothered to write your own book, you're probably in the wrong business.

Just have to feel sorry for whoever they get to come up with their material.

Jennifer RP said...

Depends on how much they pay. Which judging by those rates, is probably topping out at 1 cent a word.

I admit I'd write a short story to order for somebody if they were willing to pay me money - it's no different from commissioned art at that level. But I smell exploitation going on here.

A.M. Guynes/Annikka Woods said...

I agree with Jennifer on one point. It looks more like exploitation than anything else.

I'm looking for freelance writing jobs but even I wouldn't take on something like this. I believe stories should come from the person writing them. It's the only way to capture a would be author's spirit and vision.

Brian said...

Sounds like something the government would think up. Can't write, you need equality. Live off someone else's back.

Ripley King said...

I spend years creating ten books, and now this?

I honestly don't know what to think.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Why would you even WANT to do this? I mean, celebrities have ghost writers to write their "autobiographies" and that's fine, because people are more likely to buy a book with Celebrity X's name on it than the bio of said celebrity by ghostwriter Y. And it has been known for celebrities to have novels written with their names on them because, again, fans will buy them(and I should add that the one time I read a novel that actually was written by the celebrity it was truly awful). But why would Fred Nerk want a book published with his name on it? Or, for that matter, a Jason Womack want to be the hero of his own(ghostwritten) fiction?

Anonymous said...

How do you use multiple settings and still come in under 1500 words? You'd have to be typing a list of directions or something.

Petrea Burchard said...

This is what phrases like "Oh my god" were created for.

Laura Zera said...

This is so disturbing.

Will Lutwick said...

First anyone can self-publish their book no matter how bad, and now anyone can self-publish someone else's book no matter how bad and call it their own. The readers and good writers are the losers in all this technological "progress".

widdershins said...

EMEGHERD! It's 'paint-by-numbers' for books!

Sue Bursztynski said...

BTW, I've tweeted this pst and my writer followers' jaws dropped! Paint-by-numbers indeed, except you don't expect people to pay to look at your paint-by-numbers art. I agree - readers are losing by this. Good writers not so much - anyone who has a following isn't going to lose readers to this sort of thing. But once self publishing becomes so easy that anyone, however awful, can put their garbage up for sale online, this sort of business is going to follow.

Anonymous said...

This is old news. MURDER, SHE WROTE executive producer, Thomas B. Sawyer, developed a program some 20 years ago, called Plots, Unlimited.

The program provides writers with plot points and character types, which the writer can plug in, thus building an outline, which they can then flesh out into a script or novel:

I knew Sawyer back in the early 1990s. He's legit, a very successful TV writer/producer.

Anonymous said...

That's the book. Initially it was a DOS program with a manual. Sawyer later expanded the manual into a book.

I don't know if he still sells Plots, Unlimited as a program.

Unknown said...

Hello! I'm new to the blog! Love the post! Made me laugh. Wonder if 26 story lines are copied from Plato?

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Nigel G Mitchell said...

I know this is late, but can I be a dissenting opinion? I wish sometimes I had a prewritten plot. My biggest problem is plotting. I'm an extremely fast writer, so much that I often find myself wanting to write, but literally having nothing to write. I struggle with plotting for months, trying to pound my stories into shape, all while my fingers are itching to get on with it. If I had a plot already laid out for me, I'd be in heaven. But I don't think I'd sell it that cheap

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