I don’t need your story ideas

Filed under: Daily Life Jan 5, 2018

The moment someone finds out I’m a writer, they almost always say, “Have I got a story for you!”

As if I don’t have enough story ideas of my own to keep me writing from now until the end of time. If I’m struggling to work on one of them, I sure as hell don’t need to write someone else’s story to help me break through writer’s block.

Then there are the people who think their idea is SO DAMN GREAT!!!! that they just KNOW you’re going to fawn all over it the moment they reveal it to you. They’re sure it’ll earn a TON of money, even though I’ve been in this business long enough to know what people expect writers to earn is miles (make that lightyears) away from what we really make.

So no, I’m not interested in writing your book for you. Or even really listening to your idea, because I have too many of my own to write.

First of all (you know the shit’s about to hit when that phrase pops up), what you’re looking for is called a ghostwriter, and that pays big bucks. Which means you need to be able to shell out enough money to make it worth my while to write your story before you earn anything. And there’s no guarantee you’re going to make any (or all) of that back.

Here’s a true story: last year my CPA tried to get me to ghostwrite a nonfiction book about postage stamps (yes, for real — who would read it?). He claimed I could earn $10k or more from it, though I’m not sure how he arrived at that figure. I can’t imagine a nonfiction book about stamps bringing in anywhere near that much once it’s on sale. I guess he thought the “real” author would pay me out of an advance, but are there actually publishers clamoring for stamp stories? I just can’t see it.

Or maybe you’re looking for a book doctor, someone who will take your finished manuscript and “doctor” it into something readable. Note I say “finished” — book doctors work with something you’ve already written. It’s like an intense edit that will take a rough story and polish it into a diamond. Again, you have to pay upfront for this work, because no one works for free. And I’m still not writing your story.

Maybe the next time someone tries to sell me on writing something for them, I’ll bring up the notebook I keep on my bedside table that’s full of ideas I’ve jotted down over the years. Once all those stories are written — and after I’m done working on all the other ideas I’ll get during the time I’m working on the first lot — I’ll probably still not be interested in working on your story.

If you’re dead set on getting your story out there and don’t want to tackle it yourself, or if you’ve written a draft and need someone to go over it to “make it good,” I recommend taking a look at Fiverr. I’m sure there you’ll find ghostwriters and book doctors aplenty eager to take on your story, but I’m not one of them.



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