“How does a ghostwriter get paid?”
This is a question many people have. There seems to be a mystery about the subject, so I thought I’d tackle it for you.
A ghostwriter’s fee can be calculated in a few ways. It depends on the project, but here are some methods:
- Hourly: This is how I started, because many professionals charge by the hour. However, for writing, it isn’t always terribly practical. Most clients want to know how much a project will cost. They don’t want to be caught off guard. Today, I do sometimes charge on an hourly basis, when it makes sense, such as for a consulting fee. My hourly fee is $145 per hour, but the range I’ve seen amongst other professionals is $65 to $250 per hour.
- Per page: I’ve never charged on a per page basis, but know that some writers do. It is hard to calculate because the word count per page really depends on the page layout and font used. On average, you can consider that there are 250 words per page, so it is possible to make this calculation.
- Per word: Having tried a number of methods, this is the one I like best. There is no room for doubt or question. Researching prices, the range I’ve seen professional writers charge is $0.25 to $3 per word. Personally, I charge a dollar per word.
- Per project: When I bid on a book, I usually bid on the project, but base it on the number of words the client anticipates the work to be. For a full length book, I would charge anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000. The price will depend on how much research and interviewing will be required. If someone has 300 pages of notes, requiring less research on my part, I’d probably charge the lower figure. After talking to several ghostwriters, I have seen the range be anywhere from $15,000 to $150,000 for a non-celebrity book. The price for celebrity books goes much higher.
There are other incentives you can offer your ghostwriter, in order to negotiate the best price. Here are a few you might consider:
- A percentage of the back end: Never ask a professional ghostwriter to work solely for a percentage of the back end (royalties). It’s not something a reputable writer would do. However, a student, who wishes to gain experience, might jump at such an offer. I will sometimes work out a deal where I get a percentage of sales on top of my fee, but in those cases, I agree to help with marketing and promotional ideas. These are not within the purview of a typical ghostwriter, but I love working on this aspect of projects.
- A cover credit: Most often my clients do not want to share the cover credit with me. They prefer that I remain a ghost in the process. Some will give me a quiet acknowledgment on the opening pages, but others ask me never to share that I had anything to do with the book. That is their right, one I respect fully. However, some will offer me the coveted “with” credit on the cover (one given to some ghostwriters). It lets the world know the author hired me to ghostwrite for them.
In addition, it is always nice to present your ghostwriter with a written testimonial at the end of the project. I have gathered a collection now, which you can see on my testimonial page.
Please feel free to email me anytime with questions. I know this area can be confusing. I’m here to help!
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