What Professional Ghostwriters Charge to Write a Book

how much does it cost to hire professional ghostwriters?If you’re interested in getting a little help to finish that book you’ve been working on for years, you might be a tad curious about what professional ghostwriters charge. This information is sometimes hard to discover because so many ghostwriters seem hesitant to post their fees. I’m guessing they’re worried that you might bolt when you find out the cost.

My philosophy as a ghostwriter of twenty years is to be as transparent as possible about my fees and process because that’s really the only way someone will confidently reach out to me.

If you do a little research, you’ll discover there are three main categories of ghostwriters:

  • Cheap (a few thousand dollars)
  • Celebrity (a six or seven figure price point)
  • Mid-range (tens of thousands of dollars)

Cheap ghostwriters

Cheap ghostwriters can be easily found through various websites: Craigslist, Fiverr, Upwork, etc. They may charge as little as ten dollars for an article or a couple thousand to write a book. I’ve even talked to a few writers who attempted to write a full-length book for under a thousand dollars. Sounds great, right? After all, who doesn’t love a good deal.


You have to ask yourself, how is it that these writers charge so little when you know that it takes hundreds of hours to write a book? They can’t possibly feed their family on two dollars per hour. The answer is, they have a different full-time job. That means they are fitting your project in on the weekends or after work, when they are probably exhausted.

Another way around the pesky factor of time is plagiarism. It doesn’t take long to cut and paste someone else’s words into a document. Sure it’s illegal, and, yes, there is software that detects this crime, but cheap ghostwriters sometimes do it and get away with it.

Celebrity ghostwriters

On the other end of the price spectrum are the celebrity ghostwriters. These writers are reserved for those people with major household names. People in this class include former presidents, top-tier actors, major league sports stars, etc. These are folks who have a huge budget because they know they can jump to the head of the line and easily get a publisher to pay a six- or seven-figure advance based on their name alone.

Mid-range ghostwriters

what midrange professional ghostwriters chargeMid-range professional ghostwriters charge from fifty cents per word on up to two dollars per word. I fall into this category. I charge one dollar per word, so a full-length book usually runs $50,000–$75,000.

When you hire a mid-range ghostwriter, you can expect to harness her extensive writing experience. She has been writing books for decades and know her stuff. In addition, most likely this writer will also be an author and can share a few titles that bear her name.

This level of ghostwriter will have a well-defined process but should be flexible for your needs. You will get personalized attention and should find the experience enjoyable.


Professional ghostwriters charge according to their experience, ability, and reputation. Before you comb through your options, settle on a budget. This will help narrow down your options. Then take the steps needed to find the right and best ghostwriter for you. Check out my book Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter for a few tips in that area.

If you’d like to explore working with me, please contact me directly.


Ask a Ghostwriter: How Do I Charge a Friend?

Photo by Dario Valenzuela on Unsplash

Dear Friendly Ghostwriter, A family friend has reached out to me to ghostwrite her memoir for her children. It’s kind of sticky because, although I am a writer, I write first-person food and humor columns for newspapers. I’ve never done this kind of thing before. I’d love to do it, but feel weird charging her for my work, and have no idea what I should charge a friend. Help? Thanks in advance for any words of wisdom you may have for me. – Debbie

Dear Debbie,

I think it’s wonderful that you wish to help your friend, but completely understand your dilemma. Since you don’t have specific experience in this genre, I agree that you shouldn’t charge a friend professional rates. However, I feel strongly that it’s important that you charge her something. Here are a few reasons why:

A book takes time to write

Since this will be your first ghostwriting project, you might not know the time that will be involved on your end. Honestly, it takes two to three hundred hours to write a full-length book. Also, it’s worth pointing out that your friend will need to put in time to help you collect the information needed.

If you decide to accept the job without pay, I need to warn you that it will be tough to complete. While I can tell that you’re excited about the project now,  it will be less thrilling to spend the hours required to push through the inevitable road bumps when you know there will be no payment. How much time will you be willing to devote to it on top of your full-time job? Unless you are independently wealthy, it will start to be a drain on you to work all day at your regular job and then put in another couple of hours a day to write someone else’s memoirs.

Friendship and business do mix

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

While some people may preach that business and friendship don’t mix, that somehow one kills the other, I disagree. Networking is a powerful tool for marketing! The fact is, friends hire one another all the time!

If your friend is a good one, she won’t want to take advantage of your time. It’s one thing to volunteer to help a buddy move over a weekend, or paint their home, but no one would expect you to put in hours every week to complete a project without getting paid. Also, if she didn’t pay you, that could very well break the friendship because she’d feel too indebted to be comfortable around you. Bottom line: it’s OK to charge a friend.

Friend’s rates

While I don’t recommend offering to write her book for free, you can certainly offer her a special rate. My suggestion would be to find out what she can comfortably afford and work out a payment plan she can manage. I can’t say what that figure might be, because it has to make sense for you and for your friend. I just don’t want to see you working for hundreds of hours with no recompense. Also, whatever you work out, please make sure you deliver a finished manuscript. Besides preserving your friendship, it’s just good business practice.

If you enjoy the project and wish to continue as a ghostwriter, this book will give you the much-needed experience to land a second client. It’s always toughest to close your first book project.

Debbie, thanks for writing! If you can, let me know how it goes. And feel free to contact me directly any time!