Episode 36 – Ghostwriting, Subscriptions and Indie Pulp

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Without sound effects or background noise, Jim and Bryan discussed stories related to Hachette’s direct experiment and the recent Zoe Suggs ghostwriting controversy. Before they got to that, Bryan offered free review copies of his Ted Saves the World audiobook and Jim discussed the new deal for a ticket to Author Marketing Live’s virtual event. This week’s tips included authorpreneur action steps from Joanna Penn, the keys to a great book launch page, and how you can create a bestselling outline. In the news, we talked about sales rank metrics, the new pulp movement for indies, an individual author subscription idea, BookBub’s new Author Follows feature, the controversy behind the book Girl Online, and Hachette’s direct selling efforts on Twitter. This week’s two-part Question of the Week: If you found out a book you just bought was ghostwritten, how would you react? If you were Jim, what would be some ways you’d have a good time during the show while also providing value to Sell More Books Show listeners?

What You’ll Learn: 
  • How to get a gift review copy of Bryan’s book
  • What you’ll get as part of the deal for Jim’s virtual event
  • Joanna Penn’s tips for building up your author business
  • How to construct the perfect book launch page
  • What the best book outlines have in common
  • When KU borrows impact sales rank
  • Why the new world for indies is similar to the early 1900s
  • What one author suggests could fix KU
  • How to apply a new feature BookBub is offering
  • Why Zoe Sugg’s true fans likely won’t care about the scandal
  • What Hachette is and is not doing to sell more books

Bryan’s Thunderclap (http://thndr.it/1ybXycF)

Jim’s Author Marketing Live Virtual Event (http://authormarketinglive.com/)

Penn-t Up Progression (http://rockingselfpublishing.com/episode-76-joanna-penn-talks-business-authors/)

Out to Launch (http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/book-launch-page-must-haves/)

The Million Dollar Outline (http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/12/05/million-dollar-outline-david-farland/)

Sales Rank Specifics (http://www.selfpublisherbibel.de/test-how-amazons-algorithms-really-work-myth-and-reality/)

This New/Old House #1 (http://www.thepassivevoice.com/12/2014/amazing-times/)

This New/Old House #2 (http://www.thepassivevoice.com/12/2014/the-new-world-of-writing-pulp-speed/)

Thoughts on Amazon Subscriptions (http://techcrunch.com/2014/12/05/kindle-needs-a-subscribe-to-author-button/)

Following the Bub (http://unbound.bookbub.com/post/104110007985/announcing-bookbub-author-follows)

Zoella-mentary #1 (http://hellogiggles.com/zoe-sugg)

Zoella-mentary #2 (http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/12/08/youtube-star-zoella-suggs-debut-novel-written-6-weeks-someone-else/)

Zoella-mentary #3 (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2865736/Vlogging-star-Zoella-quits-internet-admitting-used-ghostwriter-bestselling-debut-book.html)

Hachette Test #1 (http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/12/05/hachette-ebookstore-go-head-head-amazon-wont-launch/)

Hachette Test #2 (http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/12/08/hachette-confirms-demise-ebooksforall-anti-kindle-ebookstore/)

Hachette Test #3 (http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/12/08/hachettes-partnership-gumroad-sell-print-books-wont-amount-much/)

Hachette Test #4 (http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/_b2c/media/files/08-12-2014/2014-12-08_Hachette_Gumroad_Partnership.pdf)

Hachette Test #5 (https://medium.com/@shl/hey-hachette-welcome-to-gumroad-6c758d7697fd)

Question of the Week: If you found out a book you just bought was ghostwritten, how would you react? If you were Jim, what would be some ways you’d have a good time during the show while also providing value to Sell More Books Show listeners?

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  • Jim said that his business is aimed at helping authors, while Bookbub is aimed at helping readers. While that’s true, authors need more and better ways to promote their books. I think if Jim could create a Kukybub 😉 for ebooks or EVEN BETTER audio!!!!! we would love him long time 😉

    I think he could give us a double whammy. He would help authors by reaching readers, and the readers would love him too! So there’s already bookbubs and similar out there, but there isn’t one for audio… yet. The last time I took BB’s survey, they asked me about my audiobooks. So maybe they’ve already stolen a march on you, Jim! Go get ’em!

    PS: FIRST!

    • Bryan

      Who will save us from the monstrous Kukybub?

      • Alyne de Winter


        • Bryan


        • Fact, my mom looks like Cookie Monster’s mom. It’s hilarious.

          • Bryan

            Picture proof? 😉

    • I’m registering Kukybub.com right now.

      • Bryan

        Can we get someone on Fiverr to design a giant Kukybub monster as the mascot?

      • BTW… I like SFX really, Bryan paid me in audio codes to say I didn’t, but I spent them already so I can tell you what I really think now 😉

        • Bryan

          Lies! You will be the first sacrifice to the all-powerful Kukybub.

      • Where do I sign up?

    • Connie B. Dowell

      K is for Kukybub. That’s good enough for me.

      • Bryan


    • For audio books, there is AudaVoxx (www.audavoxx.com). They don’t seem to be as big as BookBub, but I expect they’ll grow.

      • I’ve used audavoxx. Only $9 but not a single sale 🙁

        • My experience was similar, but I’m hoping that their list will grow and results will grow with it.

          • Bryan

            Agreed. Let’s hope!

      • Yeah, that’s the chicken/egg problem. Until you build up the reader/listener list, you can’t be effective. BB spent millions building theirs.

  • Crissy Moss

    I wouldn’t be upset about the fact that it was a ghost written book, but I would wish that instead of billing it as by a certain person they would say it was cowritten instead. Because it was. There are a lot of ghost writers out there who get a basic fee and no royalties or recognition for their work. I don’t feel sorry for them because they agreed to do that, and hopefully they got paid well, but as a writer I would really prefer the recognition of working on something.

    • Bryan

      Agreed. Co-written is the way to go.

  • I agree with @crissy_moss:disqus.

    Is there a popular thriller author who’s really a group of authors now? I can’t remember the name, but his name is more like a brand for the books now. I think he still writes some of them, but not all.

    Also, where do you draw the line on whether it’s ghostwritten or not. With the SPP guys, Sean writes the story and Johnny writes the actual words, then Sean goes back and edits before their editor. Who wrote the book? Both did, but in different senses.

    On another note, does anyone really think that all celebs write their own books? Some do, but most probably don’t. Some will say ‘with’ and include the actual writer, but others just pretend we don’t know.

    • I know Tom Clancy had several other writers working under his name. James Patterson does the same thing. But I think they share credit, albeit the ghostwriters name is in itty bitty font at the bottom.
      Ghostwriting happens all the time, really suprised people are upset about it. In Germany Helene Hegemann plagerized her first novel called it “mixing” and was nominated for a $20,000 dollar book prize and this was after she was called out on plagiarism. In Utah right now an author is in an expensive legal battle over plagerism. There’s a lot more to worry about than someone legitately hiring a ghostwriter.

      • Bryan

        Yeah, ghostwriting is no big deal. Lying about it can get you in trouble.

  • Are there bookbub style services for kobo, nook, etc.?

    • There are a lot of services like BookBub that can promote books on Kobo to a subscription list. It’s just that BookBub is doing the best job at meeting readers expectations for higher quality books and they have a huge list. Here’s an article that can help you decide which promotion deals are worth your money.

      • Bryan

        Thanks, Clark. The tip almost made the cut 😉

    • Bryan

      BookBub actually promotes to other platforms than just Amazon. I believe EReaderNewsToday does as well.

    • I got excellent results at Kobo, Nook, Amazon, and Google using Bookbub and ENT. Apple is dragging though.

  • Question on KU. While it seems that authors who’ve been in the game for a while are suffering because of KU, are new authors finding that it helps them or hinders them?

    When I’m ready to publish fiction (assuming KU is still a thing), I might put my book in there to get readers who might be afraid to spend money on the book, but not when they can read them as part of their subscription.

    • Bryan

      Everything is worth a shot. I say try it for 90 days and see how it works for you.

  • Alyne de Winter

    Bryan gets the clap?

  • Alyne de Winter

    I can understand some people who are not writers but need or want a book hiring a ghost writer. But if they are a writer and try to pass of a ghost written book as their own it seems lame. If I liked the book I might to know who the ghost writer was–I might like them better! lol!
    I love the Pulp Renaissance! Those 50,000-80,000 word genre books were my favorites growing up. Plus short story collections.
    As for sound effects? Ummmm…………………….

  • Connie B. Dowell

    Ghostwriting isn’t necessarily bad, but beware the audience. As a kid I devoured babysitters club books and wondered if I’d ever be able to write as much as Ann M. Martin. When I learned what ghostwriting was and put 2 and 2 together, it kind of soured me on the series.

    • Bryan

      Ah, I could see that realization being a major bummer as a kid.

  • Kim Smith

    I think Jim’s sound effects need to be used. I found it funny and appropriately placed. There, Jim, the voice from the other side. Way other…lol

    • Bryan

      Boo 😉

  • Patrick Stemp

    Some guy has been ghostwriting as V.C. Andrews for decades and nobody cares. Dean Wesley Smith mentioned on a recent podcast (can’t remember which one) that he ghostwrote a book for a major author that was released this fall – of course he couldn’t say who. The reasons seem sound – a writer locked into a deadline with a publisher gets sick and the book HAS to get finished. But I’d be pretty upset to find out that Stephen King’s newest book was written by someone else just because his publisher couldn’t wait for his words and just wanted ANY words as long as they sounded like his.

    I can understand a sports figure or rock star needing some help telling their story. As long as there is an “as told to” credit on the cover, that’s fine. For me – ghostwriting fiction, no. Ghostwriting non-fiction, sure, but be honest about it.

    • Bryan

      Honesty is the key there. Thanks, Patrick.

  • Pete Bauer

    First, let me say, that I’m enjoying your show more and more. You guys are finding your style and repertoire. Most importantly, you keep the focus on the areas of interest to writers and keep it brief, only letting it go longer when the conversation naturally takes it that way. Nice work.

    I think I’d be disappointed finding out a book I bought was written by a ghost writer. If the person isn’t a writer and utilizes another writer to help tell their story, then both names should be on the cover. The only time I think a ghost writer situation is okay is when the story series has always used a pseudonym with various writers participating in writing the stories.

    As for Jim’s SFX/Music… to quote the ETrade baby… “It’s not the venue.” Unfortunately, you can’t be serious show and guffaw goofy at the same time. You can’t be a spokesperson and a punchline at the same time.

    If Jim really wants to play his jazz, however, he could play them at the end of the show as the outro. Pick a different one every week and have an affiliate link in the show notes for the song being played.

  • Michael La Ronn

    I actually liked the sound effects…guess I’m one of those 2 people Jim mentioned.

    Agree with @CrissyMoss. Co-written is a much better way to present it to your readers. It’s transparent and readers don’t really care who did what. Transparency is key.

    • Yes! It’s more than 2, the others are just scared of Bryan. 🙂

      • Bryan

        I’m a teddy bear.

        • Michael La Ronn

          Those sound effects were pretty innovative. Can’t think of many other publishing podcasts that use those. We’ll persuade you yet, Bryan! 🙂

          • Bryan

            Come on. Can’t you think of just one new idea for Jim to play with that won’t annoy half our listeners? 🙂

  • Brian Brown

    I started downloading this week’s episode on my Android and glanced at the description. I laughed…out loud…at the first line: “Without sound effects or background noise…” You guys make me smile.

    • Oh, they’ll be back. Kukral cannot be contained!

  • Jim can’t be contained and Bryan has the clap. I just want my smooth jazz…

    Also, I wouldn’t buy a ghostwritten book. Only a demonwritten book. Maybe a zombiewritten book. Maybe.

    • Bryan

      Jimmy “Fat Hands” Thorn strikes again.

      What about a zombiebitten book?

    • I totally agree. Ghosts are so yesterday. And, absolutely no vampire written books, not been if they’re hot.

  • I stopped reading my favorite YA series when I was a teen when I found out it was ghost written by a bunch of different people. I felt cheated. (Then again, I was a melodramatic teen at the time.)

  • On ghost writing, clap, and containment – I agree with J. Thorn.

    On sound effects – go for em, just only 1 of any given kind per show (not 3 screams).

    On jazz, not so much, although Jim’s jazz voice was more… Ah… Developed than Bryan’s.

    On show in general – thank you for being wonderful.

    • Bryan

      You didn’t like my jazz voice! Aw, man 🙂

      • I’m sure you’re a man of many talents…

        • Bryan

          Haha. Thanks, Greta.

  • I’m with most folks that I don’t care if a book is ghostwritten, as long as they are upfront about it, or at least not trying to hide it.

    As far as the SFX, I have to say I’m torn. I like them, I want Jim to have fun. On the other hand, using SFX isn’t an easy thing, you can inadvertently interrupt someone and cause them to lose their train of thought, and you run the risk of alienating guests.

    I used to do a comic book fan podcast a few years back and I dabbled in the SFX, which used to drive my co-host crazy … which only made me want to play the sounds all the more 🙂

    That said, I like what Jim has been doing. I personally like a mix of the business and silly. But you have to walk a fine line. Too much business and no nonsense and it gets stuffy. Too much silliness and it starts to become a morning zoo show. So yeah … I don’t have the answer.

    Here’s the thing … you can’t please everyone, we all know that. All that matters in the end is that Jim and Bryan enjoy doing the show.

    • Bryan

      Good points, Steeven. I think we can figure out a way for Jim to have fun without depending on the sound effects. If you have any suggestions, feel free to send ’em our way. Thanks for listening!

  • My first comment here! First off, love the show and I’m quickly going through old episodes which means I have plenty of content to get through.

    As far as ghostwriters, I think the bigger the star the more likely the ghostwriter. Doesn’t bother me if they are open about it. However, if I find out that Snooki used a ghostwriter my world will crumble…

    I listen to most of the shows while watching my 15 month old son and he loves the SFX, I’m partial to smooth jazzy intros or outros. If all else fails just add more cowbell.


    • Bryan

      Welcome, George! Thanks for listening.

      Hahaha, oh Snooki. Glad to hear our show is a family affair. 🙂

  • I’d never heard of this girl and her ghostwritten book before listening to this week’s show, but since I’m a fan of fake memoirs — and this novel sounds like a roman à clef, which is similar — I am actually MORE interested in checking it out now. I think if I found out that someone like David Sedaris was using a ghostwriter, I would be more shocked and appalled, because he has such a distinctive voice and writes such personal stories about his friends and family, and because he’s been at it for such a long time. If it’s a ghostwritten novel, though, I don’t really find that such a fraud. I just wonder what the point of it is, having your first book ghostwritten while claiming it’s really your own work. Seems a little ridiculous to try to pawn it off as your work when it’s not; just give the credit where it’s due, even if it’s just in tiny lettering on the cover or “as told to so-and-so” or whatever.

    Thanks for another entertaining and informative show, guys! (And yes, I like the sound effects, except for the coffee shop noises.)

    • Bryan

      Haha, that’s funny. I kind of want to read it too :). Thanks, Laura!

  • Gillian

    Jim I want the SNDFX!!!! It’s hilarious, Brian’s reaction is priceless!

  • Craig A. Price Jr.

    Hey, I’m like way behind on episodes. Still trying catch up on all the great Indie podcasts. But if you have any review codes of audio left for Ted Saves the World, I’d love to listen to it and leave a review. I’m a big audiobook listener and have hundreds in my que, but I’d put yours up top.

    Anyway, thanks for all you do. I’m really pushing as hard as I can to become a full time writer.


    • Bryan

      Sure thing, Craig! I could probably find one for you :). Shoot me an email at bryandavidcohen (at) gmail.com. I’m between computers right now, so it may take a week, but I’d be happy to share it.

      Glad to see you checking out the backlist!

  • Hey guys—new fan (of 8.25 hours now…) and I wanted to clarify something from your show, because I can contribute some direct knowledge about David Farland and his Million Dollar Outline book.

    What he means, as I’ve asked him in a class he gave, is that the 7 years to being publishable is an average…and this refers to us taking our manuscript and sending it out with the hopes of being picked up.

    He also said there are exceptions. There are always exceptions and I was one of those–but I decided to do exactly like you guys and stick with the self-publishing route, which I’d been doing with comic books since 2004.

    So I know these comments are old–I just wanted to contribute this tidbit of info for any new reader like me.

    Awesome show guys–loving it!!

    Jaime Buckley

    • BTW, I think there’s a difference between finagling Amazon’s rankings and understanding the process to give yourself a better chance by following the available tools. Finagle is dishonest, but learning the system so that you take advantage of everything offered and holding yourself to higher standards is not.

      Just saying.

    • Bryan

      Thanks so much, Jaime. Glad you’re going through these. That makes sense on the “average” point. And, we’re happy to have you amidst our self-publishing ranks!