Ghostwriting services and fees vary so widely that providing a direct answer to "How much does a ghostwriter cost?" is almost impossible.
But in this post I'm going to attempt just that, because it's a question that gets asked a lot, and is often answered vaguely.
First, a quick overview to answer another question, what is a ghostwriter?
A ghostwriter is someone who is paid to write material for someone else, who is then credited for the work. ‘Material’ covers a wide range of writing, as you’ll see below.
People hire ghostwriters because they don’t have the time, energy or ability to do it themselves. For more information, read my blog post, What Is A Ghostwriter?
Naturally, the cost of hiring a ghostwriter will depend on what you want them to write. Here are some of the assignments that ghostwriters undertake:
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?
The following information about fees relates to books, because that's my area of expertise and that's what I get asked most about. Obviously, shorter pieces of content such as blog posts and speeches will be nowhere near the cost of a book, but $1 per word would be a reasonable expectation.
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty. The reason there is such a wide range of ghostwriting services and fees for books is because there is a large variation in skills and experience.
The person giving you the quote might claim to be a professional ghostwriter, but a $200 novel is going to be nowhere the quality of one that you might pay $25 000 for.
Ghostwriting demands a high level of skill. Not only do you have to write a book that is structurally sound and compelling reading, you have to write it in the voice of the client.
The client is being credited as the author, so it has to read as if they wrote it.
Accordingly, the fees of professional ghostwriters are commensurate with this level of skill.
There is no set standard of fees; each ghostwriter has their own fee schedule and the fee will vary from book to book, according to a number of factors:
These fees I am about to quote you are a guideline only, because the fee charged will depend on the ghostwriter’s expertise, experience and demand for their services.A professional ghostwriter is unlikely to charge you less than $15,000 – and that may be for a short book that only needs minimal interviewing and research.
The fee for an average sized book of 60,000 to 70,000 words would start at $35,000 and go up to $60,000, though some top level ghostwriters charge a lot more.
For life stories, I offer an option for clients who want their story written just for their family, and not for commercial publication. It's about 50% of my usual fee, depending on the length.
Some ghostwriters offer packages, in which the fee includes publishing and marketing. Many clients have little idea of how to go about having their book published or how to market it, so this is a useful option.
Other ghostwriters, like myself, can help clients with publishing and marketing at an additional cost, separate to the writing of the book.
Most ghostwriters have a clause in their contract about payment of fees; they will ask for a down payment before starting the work, then you pay the rest over the period of time that the book is being written.
If you’d like to know more about my ghostwriting services and fees, go to my ghostwriter page.
Hiring A Ghostwriter
I’ve written about this before in my blog post here 5 Steps To Finding the Perfect Ghostwriter, so I won’t go into too much detail, except to say, ‘Do Your Research.’
Actually, just read the post, it will save you time.
How Much Do Ghostwriters Make?
Again this varies as much as the fees they charge, and successful ghostwriters can earn a six figure income. Of course you have to take into account their expenses. These can include:
Transcription of recorded interviews.
Travel to visit the client or to do research.
Hiring a professional editor and proofreader.
Membership of relevant professional organisations.
Professional development eg workshops, seminars.
Tools of the trade – laptops, computers etc.
Some ghostwriters work for agencies, such as Gotham Ghostwriters, who take a percentage of what they earn as commission.
Some Of The Top Ghostwriters
Ghostwriters, especially those who write for high profile people or celebrities, often have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This stipulates that they are not allowed to disclose that they wrote the book.
So the top level ghostwriters often stay under the radar. But there are still many who are visible, for example,
Joshua Lisec, from The Entrepreneur’s Wordsmith
Many, if not most ghostwriters, come to the profession after years of experience in other writing disciplines, such as freelance writing, copywriting, and novel writing.
Joshua started out writing his own novels and now specializes in writing books for business owners that establish their brand and authority in their chosen field, and increase revenue and career opportunities.
Joshua’s clients include many high-profile entrepreneurs, including Scott Adams, creator of cartoon character Dilbert.
One Of My Favourites
Libby Harkness is an Australian ghostwriter, who was initially a journalist and editor. She specialises in memoirs and autobiographies.
She has written the memoirs of many fascinating and inspiring people, including the best-selling Everything to Live For, the story of Turia Pitt, the athlete who suffered catastrophic burns to 65 per cent of her body in a bush fire while competing in an ultramarathon in the remote Western Australia.
Not all clients ask for a non-disclosure agreement, and the above-mentioned clients of Joshua and Libby were happy for it to be made public knowledge that their books were ghostwritten.
If you want a glimpse into the world of celebrity ghostwriting, this article is an eye-opener.
Michelle Obama, Prince Harry and Hilary Clinton are among those mentioned, who have used ghostwriters for their books.
Ghostwriting Services And Fees Conclusion
Because there is such a wide variation in ghostwriting fees, this is a very important part of finding the right ghostwriter for your story.
Beware of a writer who quotes a very low fee, because you may be disappointed in the quality of the work.
If you want a professionally written book that tells your story just the way you want and is a book that you can be proud of, you need to be prepared to pay accordingly.
Talk to as many ghostwriters as it takes to find someone who can write your book at the price you can pay.
If you’d like to talk to me about ghostwriting your book, click the button below.
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