A Ghostwriter’s Fee: How Do They Charge?

 “What is a ghostwriter’s fee?”

A ghostwriter’s fee 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

When I began ghostwriting about twenty years ago, I charged by the hour. However, I quickly realized this wasn’t terribly practical for a freelance writer. Most clients want to know how much a book will cost to write; they don’t want an open-ended quote. I get that, so now I charge per word. The only time I bill by the hour is when I consult. My rate is is $145 per hour.

Per Page

I’ve never charged on a per page basis, but know that some writers bill this way. 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. It’s just less precise.

Per Word

Having tried a number of methods, I like to base my quote around the proposed word count. That way 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 $150,000.

There are other incentives you can offer your ghostwriter, in order to negotiate the best price. Here are a few inducements 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. Having said that, 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. That is always OK with me. I consider that part of the job. However, some kind people will give me a quiet acknowledgment at the end of the book. And once in a while, an author will offer me the coveted “with” credit on the cover. It lets the world know the author hired me to ghostwrite for them. I am always honored to receive that gift.

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 (119 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.