Stuff on #bookstuffing, pen names, ghost-writing and other assorted…stuff

So…first I want to give some examples on what bookstuffing is. If you’re on twitter or facebook, there’s a good chance you’ve seen it mentioned.

Below is a thread via threadreader where I tried to explain to one person what bookstuffing is and why it’s a problem. Since I’m lazy, I’ll just post the thread here, then continue on below.

So… to continue…

How does this affect you as a reader?

If you have a favorite author,, it impacts that author’s bottom line.  Why, oh why, is it always about money, some want to know.

Well, if you’re a writer, writing is your job.  And it’s a field that is becoming harder and harder for many to make a living, or even writing part-time while you work a dayjob, hoping to one day really take off.

Trust me.  I’m one of them.  I have income coming from several sources, but my income from Amazon’s KDP/KU programs is among the lowest.  There are months I don’t even pull in $100.  Yeah, you read that right.  I don’t even make $100 from the books I’ve got enrolled in Amazon KDP.

Ever since Ellora’s Cave started having financial issues and money from Samhain slowly started to trickle away, I’ve had to look for alternate income sources.

So I’ve been ghostwriting.  That’s the bulk of my income these days and since I, like anybody else, have bills to pay, a family to help provide for, I do what’s necessary.  When I’m ghostwriting, I don’t have as much time for my own writing.  That means fewer stories.

Other authors who face waning income issues also look for alternative sources.  I know a couple who have given up writing altogether. I’m not naming names, but these were beautiful authors and the world is a little darker for the loss of their voices.

But when you struggle to just make it from book to book…well, it does make it harder.

Bookstuffers are violating Amazon’s TOS by not providing *unique* content.  Their guidelines are that bonus content (unoriginal) can only make up 10% of the overall books.


Guidelines also stipulate that excessive spacing is a violation of TOS as it leads to a disruptive reading experience.

Like for instance…this.


Look at the indentations and extra spacing in the above pic, snapped from Pregnant By My Boss, by ‘author’ Cassandra Dee.

I fiddled with my work in progress.

Normal indentations… book is about 50 pages long. Those indented spaces vary, typically, from 0.3 – 0.5 inches of the first line.  Look at the above image… it’s like ONE THIRD of the line.

normal indentations

Extra indentations.  Made it several pages longer.  By adding in the extra space between paragraphs, it took the SAME story to 10+ pages longer.

large indentations

What’s the issue here?  Authors in the KDP program (where a lot of KU books come from) are paid per page read.

If a book that would typically be about 200 pages ends up closer to 250 pages because of spacing, that author is gaming the system and get paid more in violation of KDP’s TOS.

The bookstuffing problem isn’t just from my POV, either.  In 2017, Amazon successfully filed suit against one #bookstuffer and the lawsuit was settled in Amazon’s favor earlier this year.  This was somebody pulling in six figures by stuffing and using click-farms. Article here.

From that article…


This is a guy who was making upwards of $100,000 a month by gaming the system. Does it irk me that I sometimes struggle to make $100? Well, when a fat lot of that dude’s money was made by cheating…yes.  The money, as Forbes stated, comes from a communal pool and the cheaters are robbing the authors who try to play it fair and provide the reader with a quality experience every time.

So…now onto ghostwriters

Some of those in the #getloud and #bookstuffing threads have brought ghostwriting to the table, after it was discovered that one very bad bookstuffer was hiring ghostwriters.  Allegedly, he paid them pennies on the dollar for what was making them thousands and some are irked that he was making so much off work that isn’t his, so for some, they pulled ghostwriters into the mix.

Ghostwriting has been a legit way to make a living as a writer for a very long time.  It’s an accepted form of writing. But the ghostwriter should be paid a fair wage for the work provided.  Speaking from experience, (remember, I ghostwrite), a ghostwriter should understand the value of their work and charge accordingly.  But some scammers are able to sucker in the uneducated, and because they use other sources for stories, they are able to put out a lot of material in a very short time.

Now let me be clear…ghostwriters, whether they are savvy or new to the business and unaware they are being taken advantage of, are NOT the problem.  Ghostwriters provide a marketable product and there are definitely parties out there who are willing to pay a good ghostwriter what they are worth.

There are some who use ghostwriters to help write out the ideas they have, but can’t really write. Some use ghostwriters to help release books more often or offer variety.  Some use ghostwriters to continue writing a series after the original writer passed away… frex: Mark Greaney took over Tom Clancy’s popular Jack Ryan series after Clancy passed.  Celebrities are big into ghostwriters.  From actors to singers to sports sensations, they’re interviewed by writers who then write the story.

Ghostwriters may or may not be credited, but they should be get financial compensation for the service provided.

I’ve been ghostwriting just to get by financially for several years and I’m paid well. My ghostwriting provides the bulk of my income these days.

To be honest, though, as it becomes more obvious how scammers use #bookstuffing to cheat the system, it gets a little hard not to be bitter over the fact that I struggle with sales to the point that I’m writing more for clients than I am for myself.

This is yet another way bookstuffing affects readers.  As a writer’s income drops, s/he must look to other avenues.  When one does that, it means the reader isn’t able to enjoy books from authors they love.  Amazon now makes up a HUGE percentage of a writer’s income, and if they are in the KDP/KU program, then that’s ALL of their income.  If their income is adversely affected by scammers manipulating the system to get more from the communal pool, that writer has to make some hard choices…as I mentioned, some leave the writing field.  Some turn to editing or ghostwriting to help bolster their income. So… they have less time to provide material for you.

And…pen names????

While it may not be common knowledge outside the field, using a pen name is a well-accepted practice in the writing field.  Some authors have young kids and seek to protect their privacy (that’s part of the reason I use a pen name…yes, it’s true, I’m not really named Shiloh).  Some do it because they are simply private people and yes, that’s part of why I use one. Some use a pen name to differentiate between different writing styles… like Shiloh Walker/J.C. Daniels or…Nora Roberts/JD Robb.

But some, and I think they mean well, have cued into the fact that some of the bookstuffers use multiple pen names and they failed to see that it isn’t the pen name that was the problem, but the ones gaming the system, using not just ONE name, but two or more, for all I know.

Again, the pen names aren’t a problem.  It’s cheating the system and causing harm to legit authors who are just trying to make a living like anybody else.

This whole bookstuffing scam is a headache and a half and it causes problems for authors.  For those who enjoy a well-formatted book, not mention getting what you paid for, bookstuffing causes you problems, too.  I mean, think about it.  If you buy a print book from a favorite author…imagine JD Robb, Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, the authors you pant and wait for impatiently and pick up a beautiful book that is like 600 pages long…you get EXCITED. Now imagine the disappointment when the real ‘book’ ends at 250 pages and the rest is compiled of short stories or books you read a year ago–and paid for.  We like getting our money’s worth…and our time’s worth.

Plain and simple, bookstuffers suck and I hope Amazon gets the problem under control sooner rather than later.