I just got off the phone with a very nice gentleman from New England. He wants to write a book based on his life story and wanted to learn more about ghostwriters. He was pricing a ghostwriter and wanted to know how it all works!
One of my first questions is, “What is your budget?” It isn’t always a comfortable question and most people don’t want to answer, but I have learned that I can’t really help a client too much without knowing this answer. If you’re going to hire a writer, you should have a budget in mind.
I network with a lot of writers and am never insulted by the answer. About half the time, the prospective client offers to split the profits with me. It is good to get this out in the open, because no professional writer could operate on this basis. It takes too long to get paid and there are too many potential pitfalls along the way. No, all ghostwriters must be paid upfront. We also have to pay our bills!
And when I say “upfront,” I don’t mean that you should pay the entire fee all at once. Never do that! Plan to give your ghostwriter 25% of the fee to get started and then pay the rest in installments that you can afford. I always strive to be flexible with my clients, so sometimes, I allow them to get started for just a small fee.
Talk to your ghostwriter about money early on. Don’t waste your time with someone who is way out of your price range. It is frustrating to you and the writer.
Personally, if a client has a limited budget, but a good book idea, I will cull through my database and help them find a good, but low-cost writer. It’s a little like matchmaking and I find it fun. Often, the writer will give me a referral fee (I always give one to people who help me locate a client).
So, don’t shy away from the question, “What is your budget?” when you’re pricing a ghostwriter. Instead, be honest and upfront with your prospective ghostwriter!