Ghostwriting FAQ – Part 2 – Cost of a writer

The cost of a ghostwriter isn't hard to calculateThe most common questions I receive from prospective clients revolve around the cost of a writer. Hiring someone to write a book for you and then walk away from any credit or acknowledgement comes with a hefty price tag. If you’re wondering how you can predict the fee, I’ll do my best to help you.

How can I calculate the cost of a writer?

I’ve noticed that clients usually think in terms of number of pages of a manuscript. However, professional ghostwriters always bid in terms of word count. It’s more precise. The spacing and font size shouldn’t enter into the calculation. However, if you prefer to think in terms of pages, just consider that there is an average of 250 words per page. So a short novella of 100 pages would be about 25,000 words.

How much is the cost of a writer?When you approach a ghostwriter, you’ll need to know the rough word count of your proposed manuscript. This is understood to be a rough guess but will help the writer bid on your project. For instance, if you emailed me saying that you wanted me to complete a 200-page novel for you, I’d know that would be roughly 50,000 words (200 pages x 250 words/page), so I’d bid $50,000.

You can expect ghostwriters to charge anywhere from fifty cents to two dollars per word, so it just requires a little math to calculate the cost of a writer.

Is there a payment plan?

Yes. You shouldn’t be asked to pay the entire fee upfront. Instead, your writer will find a way to break up the payments for you. Personally, I prefer to work on a milestone approach, rather than a monthly draw. The four milestones that I use are:

  1. The completion of the outline (which includes research)
  2. The first half of the first draft
  3. The completion of the first draft
  4. The final delivery of the finished manuscript

The payments are always made ahead of the work, so you’ll pay 25% upon the signing of the contract. With that I begin interviewing and researching the project. When I’m up to speed, I’ll present you with a detailed outline. Once you approve it, you’ll send another 25% payment and I’ll begin writing the first draft.

For example, if you’d contracted me to ghostwrite a 200-page book costing $50,000, each payment would be $12,500 paid ahead of the milestone.

Do you ever work for a share of the profits?

No, all ghostwriters need to be paid ahead of the work. You might not realize how many hours goes into writing a book. That’s part of the reason the cost of a writer is so high. It requires hundreds of hours to research, interview, write, and edit a book for you. The process usually takes about a year.

Once the book is finished, it will take you months to reach out to literary agents. If you land one, it will take them another six months to a year to work with you to secure a publisher. Then the publisher will need a year or two to get the book ready for release. Once they do so, it will take a year or two before you begin to receive royalty checks.

Bottom line, the process isn’t fast, and ghostwriters can’t wait years to be paid.

I can’t afford the cost of a writer. What should I do?

I can't afford the cost of a writer. What should I do?I know the cost of a writer isn’t cheap. If you have a lower budget, email me and I’ll give you options. Sometimes I take on clients on an hourly basis, helping them to write the book themselves.

You can also take a stab at writing your book on your own and then hire an editor to help you polish your manuscript. If your draft is rough around the edges, it will probably cost $5,000 – $15,000 to make it publishable.

Whatever you do, don’t hire a cheap or “affordable” ghostwriter to complete your book. I know it might be tempting to go with a lowball offer from a ghostwriter you found on Craigslist. What if they could really complete your book for only $5,000? Although they might be able to provide you with the word count, you won’t be happy with the results. Most likely you’ll need to toss the manuscript and start over from scratch.

Remember, if you’re paying a fraction of the usual price, you’ll probably get a fraction of the quality.

 

Feel free to contact me at any time with questions about the cost of a writer. I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction. I’m here to help you get your book completed!

For additional reading material on the subject:

Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

A Ghostwriter’s Fee

How Can I Help You?

    How to Start a Blog

    Start a blog today!Blogging is a great way to share your thoughts, ideas, and creativity with others. It can often bring new visitors to your website, which can develop into new leads and business. In addition, when you share your expertise on your areas of knowledge you can become an influencer for your readers. No matter your reason for wishing to start a blog, there are certain rules to follow if you want to be successful.

    Know the purpose of your blog

    If you start a blog because you wish to create an online diary, you will have a very different site from that of an entrepreneur desiring to expand his client list. And those blogs will have a different look and feel from that of an author wanting to increase his readership. Tailor your blog posts around your purpose.

    A personal blog won’t require any knowledge of keywords. One is just keeping their friends and family updated on an event or life experience. It’s easy! For instance, someone might document a three-week whirlwind backpacking trip through Europe with lots of photos and stories. If this is your goal, simply write from your heart.

    Now, if you have a small business, you’ll need to learn and follow the various rules for SEO and readability so that customers will find you. Using these guidelines, your blog articles will attract new people to your site. They will find you because they are looking for answers to their basic questions.

    When you can identify your purpose, you can begin to create the blog that will help you achieve your goals. Know your audience so you can write to them.

    Start off right

    Start a blog and write with passion.If you’re an entrepreneur seeking new leads, your strategy might appear to be a little counterintuitive. Your purpose is to promote yourself, so shouldn’t you use your blog to sell? No. If you write with the intention of selling, no one will be interested in reading your articles as they will sound like ads.

    The best approach is to work to help your readers without any thought to selling your services. Consider what questions they might have about the field you are in and answer those questions to the best of your ability. People will respond well to you when you are generous about sharing your knowledge.

    Feel free to expand the area of information for your blog. For instance, if you’re selling indoor plants, you might blog about different varieties, basic care for plants, interior design ideas that would include greenery, as well as which plant might go in which rooms in a home. In addition, you could share online resources as well as books that your readers might find helpful.

    If done well, your blog will show your passion for the subjects you write about, and your readers will be hooked.

    Blog routinely for success

    If you blog sporadically, you won’t see results. It’s best to create a schedule and write consistently. Try to write once a week. Twice would be even better.

    When you start a blog, I’d recommend creating a number of articles ahead of time so you don’t run into a problem. Schedule them out for publication. It might be tempting to just post them all at once, with the logic that it will appear to be a thriving blog. However, from what I can tell, search engines are looking for consistency and won’t respond well to a data dump in the form of a slew of articles posted on the same day. Spread them out.

    Creating a popular blog is never going to be an overnight process. Give it time.

    Do a little research

    Do research when you start a blog article.You may know your topic inside and out, but it’s always good to brush up on what your competition is saying. Take time to do some research and expand your knowledge base. Of course, you never want to copy the words of a fellow blogger. That would be plagiarism. However, ideas are free for all to use. Put your own spin on it.

    If you stumble upon a new concept, make sure to fully explore the datum for accuracy. In general, I consider that if three sources report the same thing, it’s probably valid. However, there is a caveat I discovered with this theory: If other bloggers are copying one source, they all could be mistaken. You can spot this pretty easily though, as the wording sounds rehashed. Look for unique takes on the subject.

     

    It might seem daunting to start a blog, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult process. If you have fun with it and enjoy writing articles, your readers will gravitate to your site and read what you have to say. Write for pleasure, even if your goal is business. Focus on helping others and you will gain a readership.

    Here are a few articles that you might find helpful:

    How to Become a Professional Writer

    The Structure of a Book

    A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

     

    How to Become a Professional Writer

    When you develop your writing skills, there’s a point where it becomes easier to pour your heart out onto the page. For me I remember the moment when I realized I’d found my written voice and I will tell you that was a beautiful feeling. No one could ever take that away from me. That was a huge turning point in my path to becoming a professional writer.

    If you’re interested in honing your skills and getting to a new level with your writing, there are a few tips I have for you.

    Dream big and write consistently

    Dream big to become a professional writerIt’s always good to allow yourself to dream big dreams. Don’t ever limit these audacious goals because you feel you need to fit within society’s ideas of normal. Normal is way overrated.

    Go for it!

    However…

    You need to also recognize that all successful artists and entrepreneurs are only successful when they complete the small steps on their path to greatness. There’s an expression: Dream Big, Execute Small. I like that. Add to that Be Consistent.

    Find baby steps that will propel you forward toward your epic goals. Then do these actions consistently.

    I find that when I’m a little overwhelmed with a project, if I focus on the next step it becomes a piece of cake. Nothing to it. This applies to large sub goals that might take three months to complete.

    For instance, recently I noticed I was putting off writing my own memoir. “I have plenty of writing work on my plate,” I reasoned with myself. Makes sense.

    However, I really do want to complete this book. My hack for this is to select an easy target to complete. In this case, I opened the document and reviewed the last chapter I’d written. It had been a while, so that was helpful. And easy!

    Once I could tick that step from my To Do list, I was ready to write the next chapter of my book. After that, the next chapter flowed out naturally. Now, if I’d set “Write two chapters” as my short-term goal, I probably would have pushed it to the backburner. I’m happy to tell you that I just passed the 40,000 word mark and am eager to continue. 

    Focus on storytelling

    For those writing a memoir or novel, you need to study the structure of a story. It’s interesting to note that all great stories told throughout time have followed a certain pattern or formula.

    Yeah, I know. No one wants to hear that there’s a formula. If you’re anything like me, you automatically think of those cheesy movies that follow a template. They’re bad. I agree.

    However, that doesn’t mean that books and movies don’t have a storytelling pattern. Once you know this, it’s a bit like becoming a code-breaking spy. There’ve been plenty of times when I’ve sat in a movie theater and have spotted one of the significant beats that all good storytellers hit. If you’d like to learn more about structure, check out my article The Structure of a Book.

    Continue to study

    Study writing to become a professional writerI don’t think you’ll ever find a professional writer who stops learning. We are always striving to improve. Personally, I read books on writing and study novels within the genre I wish to write. As a ghostwriter, I love tackling a new area. Recently I dove headfirst into the spy world to help a client outline his epic modern-day espionage thriller.

    Part of your study should include chatting with other writers who are successful. Make sure they are the encouraging sort. No one needs a group of naysayers whispering invalidation into their ears. Find supportive authors who can be your go-to people for advice and inspiration.

    I have a few ghostwriting friends that I chat with on a regular basis. I’m always learning so much from this pool of talent. One fellow ghostwriter recently suggested that I particularly study the first fifty pages so that I see how the author grabbed the reader’s attention. That was an excellent piece of advice that I wish to pass on to you. I’d like to add that you should also discover which popular books grabbed your attention and learn from that. If a book doesn’t interest you within the first few chapters, put it down and go to the next.

    This should be a fun exercise.

     

    Of course these tidbits of advice aren’t the only ingredients for a successful recipe on how to become a professional writer. If you have tips to add, please share them in the comments section. I’d love to hear how you became a professional writer!

    Do you need my help?

      Fighting Writer’s Block

      Fighting Writer's BlockAre you having trouble writing? People sometimes stare at a blank page or computer screen and can’t seem to get the words out no matter how hard they try. Has this happened to you? Fighting writer’s block doesn’t have to be difficult.

      There are quite a few solutions and some of them are easy to implement. The first step is understanding the reason that you feel blocked.

      Outline your ideas

      If you can’t make forward progress on your book, it could be that you’re not ready to write the next section. Personally I cannot write any substantial piece without outlining first. Make sure you know where you’re heading. It could be that the “block” is simply your common sense saying that you’ve headed in the wrong direction. If the words don’t fly off the keyboard, go back and make sure you’re on board with the flow of the story.

      If you started your book without an outline and can’t seem to continue, go back a step and put together an outline immediately. It will help. You may discover the last few chapters weren’t meant to be. That’s okay. Scrap them and start afresh from the point where you feel the story worked. Then follow the path of your outline and things should straighten out.

      Force yourself to write something, anything

      Fighting writer's block helps the words to flowIf you’ve outlined and know where you’re going, but just don’t “feel like writing,” then you may need to prime the pump. Just like with a dry water pump (which needs to be “primed” with water to get started), you may benefit from simply flowing words onto paper.

      Here are some ideas:

      • Write emails to your friends
      • Make a to-do list for the next day
      • Write in a journal (or create one if you haven’t already)
      • Start a blog
      • Write posts on your favorite social media site
      • Write an old-fashion letter to a family member

      It really doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you write. Remember, writers write.

      Work on a completely different project

      If you are anything like me, you have multiple writing projects going at the same time. I usually work with a few clients, who require books of different genres. Also, as a hobby I write haiku and science fiction short stories. Having different projects working at the same time keeps me on my toes. I like it that way.

      If you’re stuck in the middle of a novel, try writing a nonfiction piece. If you are working on a technical report and are fighting writer’s block, take a break and write dialogue between two co-workers. Create a scene, which might turn into a short story.

      When you feel you’re doing well again, switch back to the original project and get writing again.

      Surround yourself with supportive people

      Fighting writer's block starts by surrounding yourself with supportive people.Writer’s block can be a symptom of invalidation from peers. If you have “helpful” friends who jokingly tell you “don’t quit your day job,” this can be damaging to you as a writer. The only purpose of such comments is to get you to stop writing. Don’t seek advice from these people. Surround yourself with good people who have your best interests at heart, people who want to see you succeed.

      This isn’t to say that constructive criticism isn’t very helpful to a new (or even an experienced) writer. We can always improve and grow. I personally LOVE it when some kind soul writes in to tell me I have a typo in a blog article or gives me tips on my writing. It’s quite wonderful!

      Look at the intention behind the comment and how it makes you feel. That will help guide you where to file the suggestion. Do they compliment your work, while gently pointing out errors? Or do they slam you at every turn?

      Fighting writer’s block can simply begin by choosing better friends and not listening to critical naysayers. Please check out my article on feedback versus criticism for more information.

      If you need advice or help fighting writer’s block, please don’t hesitate to email me!

      Additional articles you might find helpful:

      Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

      Help! Help! I Need Help Writing a Book!

      Write and Publish a Book

      How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter