March 08, 2006
How Much Do Ghostwriters Charge? | printable version
A chaplain I know has approached me about ghostwriting a book on his experience in overseas last year. I've never ghostwritten professionally before, and I'm concerned that websites I've surfed for information on ghostwriting may be money-making businesses rather than true ghostwriting sites for real writers. Do you know where I can find some valid information on going rates for ghostwriters, how they get paid, if the proposal costs extra or should be included in the total cost, etc. You seem to have limitless resource info!
Angela Hoy forwarded me your question. My name is Dawn Josephson. I've been a professional ghostwriter for 11 years and have ghosted 20 books and 1500 magazine articles for my clients.
To answer your question, I have never found a web site that specifically tells you how to ghostwrite or what to charge, etc. Most sites are other ghostwriters describing their services.
There really are no standards for going rates for ghostwriters. You and your experience level set the price. For ghostwriting a book, new ghostwriters with no books under their belt typically charge $7,000 - $9,000, depending on the subject matter, length of book, research needed, etc.
More experienced ghostwriters can charge $10,000 - $15,000, while those who are really in demand can get upwards of $20,000 or more for writing a book. In general, I've found that charging a flat fee rather than hourly works best for these types of projects. Books take lots of hours to produce, and telling a client you charge $X an hour scares them. No client is going to give you the equivalent of a blank check, and that's what you're asking them to do when you charge an hourly rate for a book project. So negotiate a flat rate and be specific in your contract about number of revisions, who does what as far as research, and any other items that could cause a lot of unanticipated work on your end.
Since books take anywhere from 3-6 months to create, you'll want to break up the fee into equal payments for your clients. I like to use the third method--that is, they pay 1/3 to get started, 1/3 at the halfway point, and the final 1/3 upon completion. But you can work out any payment arrangement that works for you and the client.
And to answer the final part of your question, yes, the proposal costs extra. That's separate from writing the book. You could, of course, bundle it in your fee and state that it's part of the fee in your contract. The choice is yours. Just be sure you're getting compensated for all the work you're putting in.
For more info, on ghostwriting, you can check out my book, So, You Wanna Be a Ghostwriter - How To Make Money Writing Without a Byline, which is carried by WritersWeekly.com at: http://www.writersweekly.com/books/49.html
Hope this info helps.