Colin Dunbar

Thinker. Writer. Learner.

Scammed by a "Ghostwriter"

By Colin Dunbar

Are you thinking of outsourcing the writing of ebooks or stories (or anything for that matter)?

If you are, please read this before you proceed.

Very brief background...

I've used Fiverr a number of times, with good results. However, this was the first time I used Fiverr for written content.

After watching a webinar on publishing and selling Kindle ebooks I did a little research and decided to give it a try. I didn't have the time to write fiction (even short ebooks, as advised in the webinar), so I turned to Fiverr and started looking for a fiction ghostwriter.

Outsourcing

The first point of call was searching for fiction ghostwriters that suited my requirements and budget.

I found a few, and doing my due diligence, I read the customer reviews of all of them (BTW, all were 4 and 5 star reviews).

Deciding on 3, I proceeded to contact them with details of what I needed, and let them know that it was 3 short ebooks that I wanted done. The one Fiverr ghostwriter came back and said she was wrapping up her present project and was then ending her gig at Fiverr. The second person came back, and after a few messages between us she agreed to write the short stories to suit my budget.

The original quote was $450 for the three stories, and within minutes she came back and said she would write them for $300.

This should have been my first red flag. But with her response, I felt confident...

"How are you doing today? It is my pleasure to inform you that have come to the right place. I hope what you are looking for is top-quality work, because that is what you get when you hire me to take care of your project. Rest assured that what you get at the end of the day is quality writing, here is absolutely no place for a poorly or shoddily done job. Truly professional ghostwriters don't come too often, but right now, you are with one of them. And this, you are going to discover soon. If you hire me, I will write you romance stories that will strike all the emotional chords in readers through characters that jump at the readers out of the pages, surreal actions and deeply moving storylines, think Nicholas Sparks. Every reader will hold their breaths as the stories near their ends and will surely let out an emotional sigh when the story is done. Maybe throw in a tear or two."

I mean, wow. Right?

I nevertheless, again checked a few of her customer reviews, and felt satisfied that she (thinking about it, "she" could have been a "he") could do the job.

After my order was placed the last of the 3 ghostwriters came back to me and said she was available, but I let her know that I had already placed my order with another writer.

The next step was to place my order at Fiverr, which I proceeded to do, transferred the funds from PayPal, and let the writer know that the order was placed.

With the order confirmed, this was the message I received:

This writer's delivery time for a story of this length was 12 to 14 days. Notice the date on the message above.

On 6 June I received a notice from Fiverr, and when I checked my inbox there, this is what I found...

"I am delighted to welcome you as a new client. Please find enclosed your delivery. Even though you didn't ask me to, I came up with a title for you, A Scent of Pines. I wrote a blurb too since you're going to need it if you want to publish the book on Kindle.

"Read through it, and you will realize how much research, efforts, and creative thinking have gone into this work. I am certain you will see what I have delivered is real, top quality work. I would appreciate a lengthy review stating what I did for you and how much you were satisfied with my services. I wouldn't mind a tip either :D

"The rights to the book will be entirely yours, so you can publish, sell or modify it. For you to publish this book on Kindle, you will need an eBook cover and ebook formatting, I can do that for you at a competitive price. Once again, I am delighted you chose me to write your story. I hope we get to do business together again soon."

Red flag #2.

I have no doubt that there are very creative people in this world that could write a 10,000-word story in about 4 days. But something didn't feel right.

Years ago I outsourced the writing of articles, and to verify the originality of the articles, I checked online.

If you outsource any web writing (or ebooks), use the following technique to verify the originality of the material.

I copied a random line from the story, put it in Google and ran a search.

Lo and behold, I found the story at Smashwords. All that my "ghostwriter" had done was change the names of the main two characters in the story. The two characters in the original Smashwords story were a man and a woman, and what this Fiverr "ghostwriter" did was change the names to both male. True.

The following are the first two paragraph from the original story, and the fist paragraph from my "ghostwritten" story follows that...

"Roxanna looked down at the time on her computer and sighed. A half an hour left. It was always the last hour that ticked by so slowly, especially when she was struggling with ideas for the company blog. She was ready to leave. Roxy was tired of looking at the computer screen. On any other day, she would've pulled out her notebook and flipped through the numerous pages of ideas she'd written down, or clippings of the latest fashions she'd pasted on the pages.

Unfortunately, today she'd left her notebook on her desk at home. She needed some inspiration ASAP. She'd gone online and looked at some pictures to get some inspiration, but nothing, and at this point after working on it all day, she was probably just shooting herself in the foot. It also didn't help that all she could think about was getting home and packing for her vacation. Her day was filled with all types of anxiety."

Fiverr ghostwriter's story...

Note the character's name, and the "she" and "her".

Keith looked down at the time on her computer and sighed. A half hour left. It was always the last hour that ticked by so slowly, especially when she was struggling with ideas for the company blog. She was ready to leave. Keith was tired of looking at the computer screen. On any other day, she would've pulled out her notebook and flipped through the numerous pages of ideas she'd written down, or clippings of the latest fashions she'd pasted on the pages.

Unfortunately, today she'd left her notebook on her desk at home. She needed some inspiration ASAP. She'd gone online and looked at some pictures to get some inspiration, but nothing, and at this point after working on it all day, she was probably just shooting herself in the foot. It also didn't help that all she could think about was getting home and packing for her vacation. Her day was filled with all types of anxiety.

Needless to say, I contacted Fiverr and cancelled my order immediately. I also let them know the reason, sending them example text (and the link to the Smashwords ebook).

Before I could respond to the "ghostwriter", I received this:

I was actually a little surprised to get that message. I thought that s/he would have been advised by Fiverr as to what had happened.

I decided to cool off and replied the next day, letting her know what I had found, and that was the last I heard.

Conclusion

ALWAYS do your due diligence when outsourcing, especially writing. Yes, I was scammed by a "ghostwriter", but remember there are honest, genuine, freelancers out there, so please don't let this one incidence stop you from using freelancing or outsourcing services.

Colin Dunbar

I'm just a regular guy who thinks, writes and learns a bucket load of things. I've always enjoyed sharing what I learn and experience with others, and I hope you find something of value here in my ramblings. Please do sign up for my newsletter and be advised whenever something new is published here (not on a regular basis, and I guarantee ZERO SPAM!)