SPQ 074: Ghostwriting – How Do You Find Quality Writers for Kindle Books?
Tobias asks: I’m looking for quality ebook writers. I’m looking to outsource the writing of some Kindle books, and I’m having a hard time finding people who produce quality. I’ve been primarily using Odesk, and my experience so far is that they are writing the ebooks, but the English is not as good as the writers’ resumes and our conversations would imply. I’m frustrated with that. How do you acquire quality ebook writers to write your Kindle books, if you are using any?
Hiring a writer is not necessarily Steve’s recommended strategy for self-publishing. He hires writers for other aspects of his business, but to create the content, he uses other writers very sparingly.
The best self-published content usually comes from your own personal experience. There are a lot of Kindle gurus who claim you can hire someone to write a book for 100 or $200. That’s complete nonsense. If you want to hire a quality writer, you need to be prepared to pay for it.
A lot of the outsourced content on Amazon is filler junk that doesn’t really dive into a problem. However, Steve does believe you can find good writers. You probably won’t find superstar writers on Elance or Odesk. There are some exceptions, but it’s hard to find them.
Steve has outsourced content for his blog and resource sections for his books, so he has two strategies you can use.
One strategy is outlining. This is Steve’s most successful strategy as far as getting high-quality content written for him. Map out your book like you were going to write it yourself. Figure out what you want to say, where you want to say it, and how you want to say it. Create an extensive outline and hire someone to flesh out your outline and make it a readable book.
When you outline your book thoroughly, you can usually find a writer to write a great piece of content from your notes. Be specific about what you want and how you want it presented.
The second option is to outsource the entire process. This is a more scalable way to run your business, but it’s harder to manage because you have to make sure you’re dealing with top-quality writers.
If you’re looking to do this, Steve recommends hiring an editor to review the content. Your goal is to find and hire people who have specific knowledge in your topic area. There are a lot of places to find talent like this.
ProBlogger is a place where a lot of bloggers hang out. Another way to find a good writer is to do a search for [niche] blog or [niche] blogger to find people who are already writing about your topic. Check social media to find people who are talking about your niche.
You want to look for a native English speaker. There are a lot of really good non-native speakers, so this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but you should look for someone who is extremely comfortable with writing in English.
You also need to work with a writer who is engaging. Their writing should draw people in and explain concepts thoroughly.
Find someone who is “hungry.” This might be someone who blogs about a topic and isn’t really making any money from their blog. If you find someone like this, try to negotiate a deal to have them write books for you.
Steve recommends the hire fast, fire fast rule. Pay someone for a small job and see how they respond. If the content isn’t good, don’t work with them.
Steve suggests doing a “human split test.” You hire three or four people to write a 400- or 500-word article. He compares writers based on speed, communication, quality of work, and attention to detail. If you provided instructions, did they follow instructions and produce the work you want?
You should have standard operating procedures (SOPs) for content you would find acceptable. Provide examples of content you like and let the writer know what you prefer as far as paragraph length and writing style.
You can pay anywhere from 3 cents per word to 10 cents per word. High-level writers may charge 15 to 25 cents per word. Steve recommends hiring someone based on quality instead of budget. You don’t necessarily want to go with the cheapest person out there.
Perrin Carrell has a great article at Niche Pursuits. It explains how he finds great writers and works with them.
Resources and Links
ProBlogger Job Board: Find a freelancer to write content or flesh out your book outlines
How to Manage Writers Effectively: Learn how to manage freelance writers in a way that gives you a good return on your investment
Kindle Publishing Checklist: Get a free copy of Steve’s 46-step checklist for publishing Kindle books