Ghostwriting Rates: What You Need to Know


Ghostwriting rates will vary, but find the best writer for you at your budget.If you’re exploring the internet, looking for help writing a book, you might be curious about ghostwriting rates. You may find that most freelance writers and ghostwriters tend to avoid the dreaded discussion about pricing. Many won’t share their price openly on their website and it can take a while to pry the information from them in the initial call.

I believe in being frank and transparent in all aspects of my services including my cost. I charge one dollar per word to ghostwrite, which is the average rate for a mid-range professional ghostwriter.

Unlocking Discounts: Strategies to Lower Ghostwriting Rates


Typically ghostwriters will bid on the project based on your proposed word count. A shorter work, like a novella, can land at around 25,000 words. A memoir can be that short, but it is usually between 25,000 and 50,000 words (sometimes more).

Considering that the average book is 50,000 words in length (or 200 pages), many authors are interested in finding ways to lower the cost. Here are a few tips and tricks that might help you get a better price when you have that initial conversation with a ghost.


Pitch an Inspiring Book


Most ghostwriters, myself included, can be swayed by an uplifting and impactful subject. Personally, I am always very interested in a book that has the potential to help others. Of course, no book can be relentlessly upbeat, but if it leans toward indulging in traumatic experiences to make the reader feel ill, it won’t sell well.

If you have an inspiring story, share it with me along with your budget constraints and I will do my best to help you find a workable solution.


Be Flexible with Deadlines


The average 200-300 page book requires a year or so to complete. When a new client is open to extending deadlines as needed, I can sometimes offer a more favorable ghostwriting rate. As I am typically working with a few clients at the same time, having a little wiggle room can be very helpful to me. Having said that, still, create a contract with your ghostwriter, and be sure you update the agreement if you decide to give them more time. Too much flexibility doesn’t work.


Trim Your Word Count


Since ghostwriting rates are tied to the word count, you can save money by reducing the length of your book. Yes, the average length of a book is 50,000 – 75,000 words, but if needed, I can still tell a compelling story in fewer words. Of course, we will need to lose certain plot points and we’ll need to condense the content, but I am happy to work with you and your budget.

One option is to create a series. Your first book must be compelling enough to spark an interest with readers to buy Book 2, but if you have a lower budget, consider writing the first book as a novella. Make money with that book and hire the ghostwriter to write a full-length sequel. Now you have an established readership.


Communicate Effectively


I can’t tell you how much I value clients who maintain open communication lines throughout the project. Prompt responses to queries and active engagement significantly contribute to a smoother and more efficient collaboration. After all, you and I will become writing partners; it’s such a close relationship. When my writing partner is actively pitching with me, I’m more inclined to offer discounts.


Factors That Will Increase Costs


Just as there are ways to lower your price tag, certain requests from a ghostwriter will certainly increase the bid. Here are a few factors that will certainly increase the cost:

  • Ask the ghostwriter to visit you in your hometown. This takes a lot of time and is often highly inconvenient. In my opinion, home visits are usually not necessary or even helpful. Phone interviews, Zoom calls, photographs, and videos do the trick.
  • Require extensive research. A typical project involves quite a bit of research, but if you expect your writer to become a Ph.D. expert in your subject, know that this will cost extra. Honestly, you should be their main source of information. Provide them snippets of books to read and links on the internet to supplement the information you provide.
  • Request a proposal in addition to the book. If you are seeking traditional publishing, you will need a good, standard proposal. This will cost extra as it is time-consuming. The price for this alone spans from $5,000 – $15,000 depending on the project.


Three Categories of Ghostwriters


Pick the right category of ghostwriter for you

Honestly, ghostwriting rates vary tremendously among writers. This is true of most professions. If you are searching for someone to redo your flooring or put a new roof on your home, you’ll discover you’ll receive a wide variety of bids. To help you navigate the wide world of ghostwriting fees, it might help to explore the three main categories of writers that I’ve noticed exist:

  1. Cheap Writers (Price tag ranges from $2,000 to $12,000): You can find these writers on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. You can also uncover a few on Craigslist. These writers are very affordable but lack any real experience. They are cheap because they wish to cut their teeth on your project. Caution: Watch out for plagiarism and missed deadlines in this category.
  2. Mid-range Professional Writers (Price range from $15,000 to $100,000): These writers bring professional expertise to the project; they are well-versed in the art of storytelling. While they come at a higher cost, the quality and experience they provide can be well worth it.
  3. High-end Celebrity Writers: These rare birds are reserved for famous personalities and are often channeled through New York agents. The starting fees tend to be around $250,000. Some more well-known ghosts command seven figures. For instance, J.R. Moehringer, the author of Spare, has gained a lot of attention for his work.


Choosing the Right Category for You


After considering these three categories, most aspiring authors choose the mid-range professional ghostwriter. It’s an ideal choice. While the cost is significant, you will wind up with a well-written book that you can be proud of and show off to your family and friends.

Professional writers take about a year to complete a book. Cheap writers might promise to polish it off in a month or two, but that should be a red flag for you in your search. A book requires time to research, write, and edit. Plus there is a lot of back and forth between you and your ghostwriter. A book written in a fraction of the time required will never be a best-seller.

If you find yourself apprehensive about the ghostwriting rates and wonder about the quality of the writer you are interviewing, ask them for writing samples. A mid-range professional writer will be able to show you at least a few books with their name on them. Of course, they will not be able to show you too many titles, because they will have signed a confidentiality agreement with their clients. However, if they have been in the business for more than a few years, they will have either authored a book or two, or they have a client who has given them some kind of author credit.


Try a Trial Run


If you are still uncertain about the ghostwriting rates, I suggest you hire the writer you like for a trial run. Ask them to write a few thousand words and pay them accordingly. You can do this with a memoir, a novel, or a business book. Most ghosts will be amenable to this request. If you are happy with their work, hire them for the project. If you aren’t, you haven’t lost much to learn that this isn’t the best path for you.

Never ask the ghostwriter to write the trial piece for free. This will not give an adequate feel for their work. It’s important to treat this trial run as you would a full-fledged project. Conduct the interviews as you would, give positive and negative feedback on the work as appropriate, and test the ghostwriter’s ability to communicate effectively with you.


A Word of Caution


Beware of exceptionally “too good to be true” low-ball offers. While they may seem enticing, they will probably result in subpar work that requires a complete rewrite, putting you at square zero again. Quality should always take precedence over cost when it comes to your literary baby.

I remember a time when I was working with a client on a memoir. His wife wanted to write one too and asked me for a bid. She explored other ghostwriting rates and chose a writer who promised to write the book in two months for $5,000. I warned her against this bid, but she wanted to give it a try.

When she turned over the manuscript to me for my opinion, I was honest with her. It was poorly written. She sighed and agreed with me. Then she hired me at my full price. Unfortunately, she’d simply lost the $5,000 she’d spent.


If you’re thinking about hiring someone to help you complete your book and would like a little advice about ghostwriting rates, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to discuss it with you!


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