How much does a ghostwriter cost? Can you find cheap ghostwriters? What do expensive ghostwriters provide? How much are affordable ones?
The differences among expensive, affordable and cheap ghostwriters are vast — sort of like buying a house. Of course, the best one for you will depend largely on your goals and objectives.
In addition to the guidelines explained here, you can compensate a book ghostwriter in four different ways: ghostwriter for hire, byline discount, revenue share and business partner.
Let’s start at the top. Expensive ghostwriters tend to be celebrity journalists, whose bylines appear in national newspapers and magazines, or well-known authors of published books.
Celebrity ghostwriters are typically represented by ghostwriting agencies, often based in New York, which charge a 30 to 50 percent premium over their services. The agency generally gives you two or three ghostwriters; you interview each of them and choose the best match.
Prices for celebrity ghostwriters are high. Hillary Clinton reportedly signed an $8 million contract with Simon & Schuster to publish her memoirs in 2001; the ghostwriter is believed to have received $500,000.
Ghostwriters working with major publishers typically receive advances between $50,000 and $250,000 per project. These projects can take several months to a year to research, write and edit.
U.S. ghostwriters typically charge from $20,000 to $80,000 for a 200- to 300-page book. The Canadian Writer’s Union has set a minimum fee of $25,000 for a book of the same length.
A professional ghostwriter can accurately estimate how much time and money a project will require. Many of the variables include length of work, sophistication of topic, target deadline, availability of author and so on.
When you work with an affordable ghostwriter, you do not pay additional agency fees, because you are working directly with the ghostwriter. This type of ghostwriter can provide you with customized service based on your needs.
Professional ghostwriters generally specialize in writing services. They tend to be reliable, dependable and organized, because their livelihood depends on it. They also tend to be native English speakers, adept and attuned to the nuances of the language. Most are well read and culturally savvy, thus providing a broad knowledge base from which to ask intelligent questions while writing your book.
You can find cheap ghostwriters by logging on to ghostwriting bidding sites or outsourcing overseas. Ghostwriters at bidding sites often take on such jobs on a part-time or occasional basis. Their fees may be lower than those of other professional ghostwriters, but their experience is likely limited. In addition, the bids can be unrealistic, as applicants compete against each other on price, and you may end up with shoddy work that costs you more to fix later.
Overseas ghostwriters also have very competitive rates, typically charging $3,000 to $5,000 for a 200-page book. But with overseas writers, you run the risk of quality gaps, English-language differences, cultural misunderstanding and incongruent voice.
Overseas ghostwriters also may not understand your industry. For example, if you are writing about finance or health care, they may not understand terms and concepts specific to these industries in Western countries. This means they may not know how to present key ideas. They also may not know how to ask critical questions, so that the logic holes in your book are filled.
Overseas ghostwriters also may not understand your cultural context. For example, if you are targeting Gen Xers, Baby Boomers or Cultural Creatives, you may prefer to work with a ghostwriter who understands these psychographics and can help you focus the writing.
Whether you choose to work with expensive, affordable or cheap ghostwriters, you will most likely get what you pay for.
Ghostwriters charge in a variety of ways, including by
Depending on the ghostwriter’s experience and the sophistication of the project, the charges can range as follows:
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Generally, a ghostwriter will require an upfront deposit, ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent of the total cost.
The client then makes installment payments at key points during the project, particularly if it is a long project. With shorter projects, the client pays the entire balance upon completion.
Each contract is different. The actual terms depend on the project scope and what the author and ghostwriter agree upon. A ghostwriter for hire can also offer different compensation plans based on your and the ghostwriter’s goals.
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