A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

 “How does a ghostwriter get paid?”

This is a hot topic! There seems to be a mystery about the subject, so I thought I’d tackle it for you, upfront, head on, so that you can be armed with knowledge before reaching out to talk to a ghostwriter.

If you’d like a more specific breakdown on fees for ghostwriting a book, please read my article on the subject.

This article will highlight how a ghostwriter’s fee can be calculated. There are a few ways and it depends on the project, but here are the most popular 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 I’ve seen other professionals charge $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, I’ve seen professional writers charge $0.50 to $3 per word. Personally, I charge a dollar per word.

Per project

When I bid on a book, I will always 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 $50,000 to $120,000.

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. 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!

Additional articles you might find helpful:

Hire a Ghostwriter to Record Your Family History for Future Generations

It’s Good Business to Write a Book

Four Different Ghostwriting Methods

What You Need in a Ghostwriting Contract

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Ghostwriter?

Laura Sherman (113 Posts)

Laura Sherman, a.k.a. “Laura the Friendly Ghostwriter,” is a professional ghostwriter and author. She enjoys writing fiction and nonfiction and is happiest when juggling multiple projects. She recently authored “Chess Is Child’s Play” to introduce the next generation to the game of kings and queens. As a parent of three, and one of the top 50 women chess players in the United States, Laura wrote this book to teach any parent to teach any child, of any age, to play chess.