A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Is It Charged?

The price of a ghostwriter; a ghostwriter's feeIf you’re searching the internet trying to learn about what is involved with hiring a ghostwriter, one of the things you’re probably wondering about is the cost. What is a ghostwriter’s fee?

There seems to be mystery and confusion surrounding a ghostwriter’s fee, so I thought I’d tackle this subject for you, upfront and head on, so that you can be armed with knowledge before reaching out to interview a ghostwriter.

How to calculating a ghostwriter’s fee

As you will quickly discover, each ghostwriter charges differently. Not only do fees vary from writer to writer, but the way they calculate their fees will differ as well.

There are four basic ways a ghostwriter’s fees are calculated:

Per project

When you interview with a high-end ghostwriter, she will almost always bid on a per project basis. Check out my article How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter to learn more about the bids you might expect to receive from the different classes of writer. To summarize, there are:

  • Cheap ghostwriters who charge anywhere from $2,000 – $15,000 to write a book. They are very easy to find, but, as you can imagine, will be less reliable. Watch out for scam artists if the price tag seems too good to be true. Also, you’ll need to invest in good plagiarism software to make sure the manuscript you purchase doesn’t, in fact, belong to someone else.
  • Mid-range professional ghostwriters will cost more. Their fees will range from $15,000 to $100,000 depending upon the size of the project. These writers are very experienced and reliable but are harder to find. With this class of writer, you’ll learn a lot about the writing process and get a high-quality product.
  • Celebrity ghostwriters are really reserved for those who have a household name and can afford the Learjet prices (six to seven figures) of this class of writer.

Per Word

A ghostwriter's fee is usually by the wordHonestly, when I first started out twenty years ago, I tried a variety of methods and quickly settled on this one. It’s very precise and, as the client, you will know exactly what to expect. This makes it by far the most popular method to calculate the overall cost of a book project for mid- to high-end professional ghostwriters.

My research shows that these mid- to high-end professional writers charge $0.50 to $2 per word (sometimes more). Personally, I charge one dollar per word.

Hourly

When I began seriously pursuing a professional writing career about twenty years ago, I started by charging by the hour. Through experience I discovered that most clients are hesitant to enter into a contract with a writer on an hourly agreement. After all, who knows how long it will really take to complete a book!

I’d say that the average full-length book takes me two hundred hours to write. However, if there is extensive research or interviewing required, that estimate might be doubled.

Nowadays, the only time I bill by the hour is when I consult. My rate is $145 per hour.

Per Page

Over the years I’ve noticed that clients usually think in terms of page count for the length of a book, whereas writers think in terms of word count. I always specify both in a contract to make sure the author has a clear idea of my intention.

I’ve never charged on a per page basis but know that some writers bill this way. I feel this fee is difficult to calculate because the word count per page really depends on a number of factors:

  • Font size and style
  • The spacing of the text
  • Margins, line spacing and other similar factors

For instance, a single page of text that is dialogue driven and double spaced in 12-point Courier New font might be 150 words, while a nonfiction piece with long paragraphs in a different font might exceed 350 words. That’s a significant difference.

I consider that there is an average of 250 words per page, but that’s just an estimate. If I were asked to give a per page bid for a project, I’d charge $250 per page. A realistic range for professional writers charging this way would be $125 – $500 per page.

Cost for a book proposal

If you plan to engage an agent and submit your story to a book publisher, you will need to prepare a standard book proposal. This is a specialized document containing a lot of information about your book. Book proposals vary in length and need to be tailor made for each submission. In most cases, proposals run 50 – 80 pages, though some can be longer.

A typical book proposal contains the following components:

  • An overview of the book that should be one or two pages in length
  • A description of your target audience
  • A short author biography
  • A list of book titles of published works comparable to your proposed project
  • A strong marketing plan
  • The book’s table of contents
  • Two sample chapters

If you are going this route and plan to hire a ghostwriter to write your book, you’ll want to first engage her to write the proposal. After all, she will outline your book and write two chapters as part of this process. So she will already be well on the way to getting your book done.

For in-depth tips and tricks on how to write a book proposal, you can read my blog article on the subject.

A ghostwriter’s fee for a quality book proposal will run somewhere between $5,000 – $15,000. However, this price should be factored into the overall price, if you hire that ghostwriter to write your book.

Incentives to offer a ghostwriter

a cheap ghostwriter's fee can cause a feeding frenzy If you’re looking for a cheap ghostwriter on Guru or Upwork, you’ll discover that many will vie for your attention like fish seeking breadcrumbs. However, the tide shifts a bit when you seek a high-end professional ghostwriter. You may find that she isn’t as desperate for work.

A writer in this category is often quite picky about the projects she takes on and will be interviewing you even as you interview her.

If you are eager to engage a popular ghostwriter and sense that she might be able to sign with only one or two new clients when you contact her, it might be wise to consider offering a few incentives to entice her to sign a contract with you.

Here are a few inducements you might consider:

A percentage of the back end

While it would never be proper to ask a professional ghostwriter to work solely for a percentage of the back end (royalties), it can be a nice bonus to a ghostwriter’s fee. This incentive has the added benefit of including the writer in the marketing of the project. She will be invested in ensuring that the book sells well.

Some ghostwriters won’t be able to do much to help you with sales, while others are well versed in that area. If your prospective writer is great at marketing, it doesn’t hurt to bring her in as a marketing partner from the start.

A cover credit

For a ghostwriter who is starting out, a cover credit is worth a lot, because he can add it to his portfolio and resume. An open credit will help him gain future clients. Most authors don’t want to share with their readers that they had help in writing the book. That is always fine with me. It’s part of the job. You’re the author; I’m the ghost. However, if you’re willing to share credit, it can be a lovely enticement.

This is the way it would work: The front cover would read by Your Name, then underneath it would read “with” or “as told to” Ghostwriter’s Name. The author still gets the recognition as the creator of the book, but the ghostwriter gets her name associated with the project.

An Acknowledgment

As I mentioned, most authors don’t like to spill the beans that they actually didn’t write their book themselves. However, many will find a way to pay homage to and thank their ghost in the acknowledgment section of their books. Over the last twenty years, I’d say half my clients gave me such a gift. It’s always appreciated by me.

Write a testimonial

When you are finished with your book, it would be nice to offer to write a testimonial for your ghostwriter. This allows him to share your success story with other potential clients in the future.

I have been very fortunate to have gathered quite a collection of testimonials. Some authors sign with just their initials, as they wish to keep their anonymity, while others proudly share their full name.

Make sure to sign a legal contract

A ghostwriter's fee should be clearly stated in a contractAs I stated in my article What You Need in a Ghostwriting Contract, “An oral agreement should never replace a written one.” It’s too easy to have misunderstandings between an author and a ghostwriter if there is not a firm contract in place.

Please don’t sign an agreement on the back of a cocktail napkin (yes, it’s happened). To fully protect yourself, you want to sign a formal contract. A professional ghostwriter will have hired a lawyer to help her draft the document because she knows a good contract is well worth the cost.

Key points for a contract

When you review a ghostwriter’s contract, be on the lookout for these elements:

  • The deadlines for each milestone of the project. Smaller projects might only have one date of completion, but most full-length books have more. I have four milestones in my contract. Feel free to email me for a detailed description of these.
  • The overall price clearly stated. The contract should specify the ghostwriter’s fee, as well as the payment plan for the project. In my contract I break up the total cost into four payments, to be paid at the beginning of each segment.
  • The expected length of the book. As stated above, a professional writer will specify a word count, not a page count. However, in my contract I provide both. For instance, I might state, “50,000 words (or 200 pages).” I do this because my clients usually think it terms of pages.
  • The services expected of the ghostwriter. It’s a good idea to spell out what the ghostwriter will or will not do for you. For instance, will the writer help you with the publishing process? If so, make sure those services are well defined so that there are no surprises later.
  • The number of revisions allowed. Make sure you know how many revisions your ghostwriter will allow. For example, I specify one set per milestone, but always plan to make minor adjustments along the way.
  • Confidentiality and copyrights. It’s important that you retain the rights to the book. In addition, be sure there is a good non-disclosure agreement (NDA) within the contract.

With a good understanding of the elements of a contract and the ghostwriter’s fee associated with the project, you can make an informed and educated decision. If you’re interested in writing and publishing a book, please check out my article What to Do to Hire a Ghostwriter.

I always enjoy hearing from my readers. Feel free to email me anytime with questions. I know this area can be confusing. I’m here to help!

Additional articles that you might find helpful are:

Learn to Become a Ghostwriter

So, how does a ghostwriter work anyway?

Write great dialogue

Improve your writing: Feedback versus Criticism

What to Expect In an Interview with a Ghostwriter

How to Write a Business Book

 

 

Steps You Can Take To Write Your Book

StepsDo you often think of how you would love to record your life story, or maybe pen a novel?

Getting a book published is not out of the realm of possibility. With the advent of new technologies, it’s easier than ever to be a published author. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Answer the question, “What is my book about?” This may seem like a simple task, but it can be difficult. You should be able to answer this question within a few lines, as a sort of pitch. Once you have this down, you have a guiding light to see you through the journey. This answer will help you stay on track through the writing process.
  2. Create an outline or table of contents. This is a step that will give you the mile markers you need to get from point A to B then C and all the way to the end. Don’t spend too much time on the details, just summarize the sections.
  3. Write the rough draft. Get the words out of your mind and onto paper. Follow your outline, presenting your scenes as you go. Do not edit at this phase, just write and write and write!
  4. Take a break. It’s a good idea to walk away from a manuscript after you complete the first draft. It is much easier to edit if you can see it with fresh eyes. I usually give myself three to ten days before starting the editing process.
  5. Edit all the way through. Now is the time to play with the words and tighten your book. If you love a scene, but realize it doesn’t fit, scrap it. It might help to pretend it isn’t your book, but a client’s manuscript. Nothing is too precious to keep.
  6. Hire an editor or show the book to fellow writers. Now is a good time to get other feedback. What are you missing that someone else finds glaringly obvious? Get good feedback then make changes as you see fit.
  7. Read your book again. If this is your first book, I highly recommend that you read it out loud. There’s no better way that I know of for catching errors or stale dialogue. If you can, read it out loud to another person.

Next, you can brainstorm titles and a tag line. Write down candidate titles. I like to ask friends for their ideas, too. Once you have a few, you can survey them with many people, discovering the title that really communicates to your readers. That’s the one to pick.

Once you have your title and tag line, and if you’re self-publishing, you’ll need to hire a designer to create your cover art. It is important that it be professional and appealing. If you can get your artist to create three unique designs, survey those and see which is most popular. If it’s close, survey more people. You want the winner to stand out.

If you don’t have a blog, now is a good time to start one. Blog weekly (or biweekly) about your book. This will help promote your book. If you get an agent and publisher, they will be looking for a healthy blog promoting the book.

I would also recommend getting onto various social media sites. Start now, as it takes time to build a following. Keep your content relevant for you and your readers.

Writing a book is a huge undertaking. Finding a ghostwriter to help can aid the effort tremendously. Please feel free to email with any questions you might have about the book writing process or click here to submit a quote request.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Tips For Writing Good Dialogue

How To Write A Nonfiction Book

A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

Do You Want To Write A Book About Your Life?

 

 

How Do You Find A Ghostwriter?

So, you’ve got an epic book idea and you dream of getting it published, but you haven’t been able to find a way to complete it. Do you need help? Hiring a ghostwriter can certainly bring that dream to fruition. But how do you find a ghostwriter? It’s tough to know who to hire, who will be the person to see your project through to the end.

Just doing a search in Google for the term “ghostwriter” will provide a myriad of results. It can be a bit overwhelming if you have no clear plan of action in place. Here are a few tips to help you make sense of it all and find a ghostwriter to be your voice.

Understand the different ghostwriting service providers.

There are freelance sites like Fiverr, where you can find someone willing to do the job. They charge much less than the market generally demands, which may sound good, but should be a blaring warning sign. Consider if the average writer bids $15,000 to $60,000 to write a full length book, knowing that it takes six to eight months to write, how on earth can someone bid $500? There’s a reason for the low bid. If you hire someone in this ballpark, you will need to rewrite the book once it is delivered. After having experienced a low budget writer, most people are very willing to spend the money required to get an experienced and qualified expert to write their book.

Establish your budget.

As you search out the best ghostwriter for your project, discuss your budget early on in the conversation. I’ve noticed that some clients hesitate to tell me what they want to spend. Even if I love a project concept, I will not bid too low to get it. If you tell me upfront what you can spend, I can give you options and perhaps even find a writer for you within your range.

Check work samples.

When reviewing a potential candidate, be sure to do your research and check their work samples and any books they may have published. There is no better indicator of the type of work someone can produce for you than the work they have already published. Professional writers have varying styles. Find a writer who writes in a style you and your readers would enjoy reading. If you don’t like the writer’s samples, chances are you won’t like how they tackle your book.

Establish a rapport.

Once you get through the initial stages of research and are drawn to a particular ghostwriter, take the time to talk to her. The writing process is a very bonding experience. Most likely, you’ll be immediately drawn to the right writer. If not, keep looking. It’s vital that you and she can communicate easily and well over the months to come.

Start as soon as possible.

Whenever a client puts off a project, it usually means it will never get done. It is rare that someone postpones for more than a month and then comes back to actually complete their book. If you want to write your book, understand it will take at least half a year, adding on a few months for the publishing process. When you consider that, now is a good time to start!

Finding a quality ghostwriter to deliver your book doesn’t have to be a haunting, I mean daunting task. I am always happy to answer all of your questions, giving you advice on the process.

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Writing A Book Proposal

How To Write A Nonfiction Book

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?

Working With A Ghostwriter – What Steps Should You Take?