fastpencil Self-publishing has gotten easier and easier lately, with the arrival of print-on-demand services such as Lulu and on-line stores such as Amazon offering their own packages. But until now, the potential self-publishing author has been handicapped by one critical factor: he actually has to write the book (or arrange a ghost-writer) himself.

But now VentureBeat reports on a self-publishing site called FastPencil that is offering a “Thought Leadership” program. FastPencil will provide business leaders and CEOs with a ghost-writing team that can translate their ideas into a book which they will then distribute as print and e-books through Amazon and elsewhere, and also promote on social networks.

FastPencil’s CEO Steve Wilson explains,

This program is for CEOs and other key executives, politicians, influencers, and others who desire to build their brand in well-defined communities of prospects, voters, peers, and organizations. By combining the power of self-publishing with community social networking, thought leaders can promote their views and co-create with their communities of interest, without having to type every single keystroke themselves.

Though FastPencil’s basic self-publishing services are free (they take a percentage of the sale price), they declined to discuss Thought Leadership pricing, as it is negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

I have to admit, I am only surprised that nobody has come up with a service like this before. It seems to be a natural fit; CEOs will often feel they have something to say but lack the time to say it in detail—but they have the money to throw around to make that less of an issue. And if the book was written by professional writers, the quality factor will be less of an issue.

It remains to be seen how the quality of these books actually is; according to the VentureBeat article, some are close to completion but none has yet actually been published.