Write My Book: How Much Does It Cost?

How much does it cost to write my book“How much would it cost to write my book?”

That’s a common question, one that I’m always happy to answer when an client interviews me. Direct answers are best, I find. The answer is that I charge a dollar per word to ghostwrite and $145 per hour to consult (and I can get a lot done in one hour).

I will admit that I really enjoy talking to people about their book concepts. After all, I’ve worked with dozens of clients over the last twenty years and have had the privilege of writing their books with them. It is wonderfully rewarding!

Some prospective clients have very good ideas and just need help. However, occasionally there are those calls which frustrate me beyond belief. One occurred the other day…

A little story

Find the right ghostwriter for youI was right in the middle of the last chapter of a memoir I was ghostwriting for a client when the phone rang. Normally, I don’t like to be interrupted while writing, as it breaks my creative flow, but I worried that it might be a writer with a question, so I picked up.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Is this Laura Sherman?” the young woman asked, her voice slightly demanding.

Oh my… It wasn’t a good start. My parents taught me to identify myself on the phone. I dislike it when people don’t bother to give their name before asking me for mine.

“Yes, it is,” I said, with a sigh. I wasn’t in the mood to correct her. At least the woman didn’t sound like a telephone solicitor.

“I want to hire a ghostwriter to write my book, because I just don’t have the time to write it myself.”

“That makes sense,” I said. She had voiced a common plea. Most of my clients are busy executives, with very little extra time. “And to whom am I speaking?” (hint hint)

She paused for a moment, probably weighing the pros and cons of telling me her name. “Joyce.” (Okay, that wasn’t really her name, but I’m a ghostwriter, so I can embellish.)

The interview with Joyce

“Hello, Joyce,” I said. “What’s your book about?”

“My life story,” was all she offered. “What’s your ghostwriting process?”

I gave her a brief overview, explaining how it would probably require a couple dozen interviews, spread out over a ten month period. I explained how it takes a ghostwriter hundreds of hours to write a book. Then she asked a few more questions before she got to the big one.

“So, how much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?”

“Well, that depends. How long will your book be?”

“About two hundred pages,” she said.

“That’s a good length. I charge a dollar per word,” I said. “So, I’d charge $50,000. What’s your budget?”

“I don’t know. I don’t have a lot of money to spend.”

“Well, how much did you want to spend?”

“I don’t know, maybe a thousand dollars? I know that probably isn’t enough, right?”

“No, it isn’t,” I agreed. “Not if you want me to write the book for you. I could coach you on writing your book, but you’d need to write it yourself.”

“No. I don’t want to do that. I want you to write it,” she said.

A ghostwriter’s fee

Desire to write a bookNo one can charge a thousand dollars for ten months work, not even starving ghostwriters. However, I always like to try to help everyone who contacts me.  “Look, I know a few editors who are looking to branch out into writing. If you’re interested in writing a short, one-hundred page book, that price is possible. It’s low, but possible.”

“I don’t have that kind of money.”

“Then you’ll probably need to write the book yourself,” I said. “If you did manage to find someone willing to write your book for a thousand dollars, it probably wouldn’t come out well. Then you’d be stuck hiring someone else to rewrite it.”

Then she asked me about the publishing process. So I gave her a rundown on what an author needs to do to sell a book.

“I’m not good with computers, so I can’t do any of that,” she said.

Authors need to learn about marketing

“You’ll need to learn,” I said. My bluntness sometimes gets me into trouble. However, I find it’s better to be upfront than beat around the bush. “Even if you get a publisher, you’ll need to do your own marketing. That’s part of being an author these days.”

She didn’t seem very interested in this part of the discussion. “So, how can I find a ghostwriter?”

“If you’re able to scrape together ten thousand dollars, I can ask around for you.”

She paused then said, “But that would be for a good writer. What if I just wanted to find a writer who will do it for one thousand dollars?”

I have to admit I was gobsmacked, as my British friends would say. Finally, I tried to repeat that anyone willing to write a book for a thousand dollars wasn’t someone she’d want to hire, but she cut me off and said, “OK, thank you!” and hung up.

Moral of the story

If you’re serious about writing a book, you will find a way. Either hire a good, qualified ghostwriter or make the time to learn how to write a book then write it yourself. If you choose to write your own book, consider hiring me as a consultant. I can help you with outlining, rewrites, dialogue, character arcs, etc.

Now, if you’ve read this article and you are interested in hiring a ghostwriter, I would love to hear from you.

If you’re interested in learning more about the writing process, please check out these other blog article topics:

Character Development

Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter

How to Handle Criticism

 


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    Writing a Memoir: Know Your Story

     

    When writing a memoir you must know your storyWhen writing a memoir, it’s important to stick to one subject and one time period. In order to do that you really need to consider the story. If your book is too general, it won’t make for a good read.

    A good friend and fellow ghostwriter attends many writer’s conferences teeming with agents and publishers. He once gave me some excellent advice. He said, “If a writer goes into a pitch with: ‘Hey, my book is about my life in the field of education,’ the agent is going to glaze over and start thinking about the conference lunch buffet. The best way to sell a book is to state the book’s focus upfront.”

    I’d add that you should know the purpose of your story. When you understand why you’re writing the book, you’ll be able to begin to write your memoir.

    Know your story

    Each author will have a different reason for writing their book. In the example above, perhaps you are a high-school teacher in the inner city and you’re writing a memoir to encourage parents to be more active with their child’s education. Well, if that’s your purpose, tell that story. Make sure all the scenes of the book align with that message.

    If your own educational path helps to illustrate your book’s purpose, by all means share it. You can do so with flashbacks or by starting the book at that period, if there is enough material to carry the story forward. However, if your past doesn’t really relate to your memoir’s purpose, skip it. For example, if you had supportive parents and went to expensive prep schools and Harvard, it just might not fit into this book, which is about working with inner city kids.

    Know your options

    you have options when you are writing a memoir

    It might make more sense to open your memoir with a particular high school class and finish with their graduation. Follow those students. Include various gnarly parent teacher conference meetings that show what you wish to share with your readers and conclude with a result, one way or another.

    Or your book might span two decades, showing your breadth of experience and many examples of neglect with final resolutions that all exemplify the problem.

    Another option could be to focus on one family. Perhaps that one child made it out of the ghetto and into the sunlight. In that case, your story might just span one year, showing how that mom and dad took a strong interest in they boy’s education, while other parents failed to do so.

    Note: We just discussed three versions of one life story. You can see how these three books would be very different. It’s the same life, told through different lenses. Each story would be shared with your voice but would make the reader feel and experience very different things.

    Whatever you decide you must pick a lane and stick to it.

    Know your readership

    It’s important to define your readership before you begin writing a memoir, so you can communicated effectively to that group of people.

    In the above memoir example, your reader would probably be parents of high school students because you wish to influence them to be more a part of their children’s education. 

    However, your reader could potentially be written to other teachers and school administrators. If that is the case, your book would have a very different feel. Is this a David vs Goliath story, concluding with your victorious battle to make improvements within the school system? If so, you could potentially help others forge an improvement in a system that can seem impossible to penetrate.

    Whatever you do, you must select your readership and write to them.

    When writing a memoir, remember that you get to tell the story you wish to tell. Include what you want and toss the rest. Most likely you’ll find that you have a few books within you. Select one and start writing!

    If you’re looking for a little help, please feel free to reach out to me. And if you’re considering hiring a ghostwriter, check out my book: Your Guide to Hiring a Ghostwriter.

    If you’d like to read more articles about memoirs, please check these out:

    Memoir or Autobiography

    How to Write Your Memoir

    What are Good Memoir Themes?