If you need help writing your book, one of your first questions might be about ghostwriting fees.
How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter?
This is a common question, and possibly an intimidating question. Honestly, some ghostwriters don’t even mention rates on their websites to avoid “sticker shock.” They worry that you’ll be overwhelmed before they have the chance to explain the process, payment plans, and the value an expert ghostwriter brings to the project.
The bottom line is that ghostwriting fees, especially when you hire an experienced ghostwriter, can be expensive. But the rate is expensive for a reason, as you’ll see later in this post.
Low | Average | High
Yes, there are low, average and high ghostwriting rates.
If you interview a ghostwriter who low-balls a quote, ask questions to ensure your investment is well spent. Even a low quote equals a substantial amount, so do your due diligence. If you hire a ghostwriter simply because he or she has quoted you a fraction of the going rate, you will likely get a fraction of the quality, professionalism and industry know-how.
LOW. Inexperienced ghostwriters or “discount” ghostwriting companies might charge anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000. I recommend taking a hard look at their qualifications, training, experience and industry expertise. For instance, plagiarism, fact-checking, and even proper grammar and punctuation become serious issues. Novice or part-time ghostwriters may not have a grasp on flow, pacing and literary elements that bring beauty to narratives. They may not ghostwrite full-time and have issues with deliverables, either rushing through the project or lagging when it comes to deadlines.
HIGH. On the other extreme, celebrity ghostwriters charge higher rates that can exceed $100,000 or even $200,000.
AVERAGE: And then, there are highly qualified, experienced and credentialed ghostwriters who charge average rates. I fall in this category and follow the Writers Market guide for pricing, written by Lynn Wasnak.
This industry rate sheet lists ghostwriting costs and is geared toward writing professionals, but I share it with author clients for transparency. You can see for yourself what to budget and that my quote is on target.
Check out the Writers Market rate sheet below to find standard industry ghostwriting fees — low, average and high.
Why so expensive?
Excellent and highly qualified ghostwriters earn their ghostwriting fees, no doubt about it.
Ghostwriting projects can take six months to a year to complete. Research and fact-checking will likely be needed — dates and timeline, ancestry, vital records, and interviews with family members and corporate players, etc. There may be boxes of documents to go through, transcripts to read, court records, letters, interviews with key people, and other efforts required to capture your authentic story.
Then there’s the writing itself — yes, ghostwriters can invest six months to a year — perhaps longer — while penning a compelling narrative, capturing your voice, and creating a manuscript that does your story justice.
There’s also the back and forth across time zones. I write for clients throughout the U.S., including Hawaii, and also for authors in Canada, Australia, and Europe. I cater to their time zones, not vice-versa. Therefore, when an author needs to correspond with me, I’m available regardless of where in the world the author may be.
I also add value to each project — decades of publishing experience, guidance, best practices, assistance with query letters and the search for an agent, and self-publishing advice for authors who wish to forego the traditional publishing route. This is included in my quote.
Read below about why a ghostwriting project may not be a budget buster after all.
Can You Negotiate the Cost of Hiring A Ghostwriter?
The quick answer is yes.
Ghostwriters look at various factors before offering a quote, such as degree of difficulty, supporting materials, ability to collaborate with the author, travel (in some cases), the deadline, and even the topic. Perhaps the author has partially written the manuscript and simply needs help finishing. Perhaps the author wishes to write a book that happens to be near and dear to the heart of the ghostwriter — for example, charitable causes, military and veteran stories, spiritual journeys, navigating rare diseases, or a subject on which the ghostwriter is already an expert. In these cases, the ghostwriter might agree to discount the rate.
I look at the following:
Degree of difficulty — the genre (memoir, biography, autobiography, legacy book, corporate book, historic fiction, or even a fiction novel).
Availability of assets — notes, outlines, documents, journals, and supporting materials.
Ease of communication with the author — helpfulness, responsiveness, and ability to point me in the right direction for research, etc. can expedite a project.
Partial manuscript — perhaps you’ve already made inroads and have your manuscript partially written. This can vastly reduce the cost of the project because I can use your words as a platform, often wearing an editor’s hat, and then ghostwrite the missing components.
Timeline — longer deadlines may drastically cut costs because the ghostwriter is not operating under a “rush” status. Shorter deadlines my increase the cost because the ghostwriter is producing, for instance, a manuscript in four months versus six months, which is an incredibly difficult (and rare) feat. For shorter deadlines, a ghostwriter may drop everything to focus on the project and will likely work long days (twelve to fourteen hours) nonstop.
Are Ghostwriting Fees Really Outside of Your Budget?
A professional ghostwriter will very likely work with your budget. For instance, if paying half down is cost prohibitive, I offer payment plans, perhaps six payments in six months or twelve payments in twelve months, depending on your deadline. I do my best to be flexible and help you make your dream come true. I have had two-year projects as well, either because the project was intensely complicated or a two-year timeline accommodated the author’s budget.
There is nothing more remarkable than holding your published book in your hands and shouting to the world that you are an author! I want to make that as easy as possible for you.
Other Ghostwriting Resources
- Ghostwriting Information
- Ghostwriter Expertise
- Ghostwriting Projects
- Ghostwriter Project — Business Books
- Houston Ghostwriting Services
- Ghostwriting Tips