Ghostwriter for Hire
When you work with a book ghostwriter, you have at least four models for compensation: ghostwriter for hire, byline discount, revenue split and business partner.
The actual model will depend on your objectives as well as what your ghostwriter will agree to.
Four Ways to Compensate a Book Ghostwriter
1. Ghostwriter for Hire
The ghostwriter-for-hire method requires more upfront payment, but it gives you — the author — more control once it’s done.
A ghostwriter for hire, also called a “writer for hire,” is an independent contractor. The ghostwriter is paid for writing services and exits the project once the writing is complete.
In such situations, the ghostwriter is typically credited in the acknowledgments section of the book as an editor or collaborative writer.
The author or marketing group is then responsible for overseeing the book’s design as well as publishing, marketing and sales aspects. The author collects full profits or royalties, without paying additional fees to the ghostwriter.
This is the most common arrangement made with book ghostwriters.
2. Byline Discount
Some book ghostwriters offer a discount if their name also appears on the cover. This discount can range from 10 percent to 20 percent of the total project cost.
Generally, the author’s name (yours) is displayed prominently on the cover. The ghostwriter’s byline is smaller and preceded by the words “with” or “as told to.”
Whether the ghostwriter’s name appears on the cover or not, the ghostwriter is an independent contractor.
This is also a common arrangement made with ghostwriters.
3. Revenue Share
A book ghostwriter with revenue share receives a percentage of profits or royalties, which can range anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent. In such cases, the upfront fee is typically lower, by as much as 20 percent.
The ghostwriter will also have a greater stake in the project’s success and may contribute time and skills to other aspects of the publishing and marketing process.
The author client remains the key name on the book, although the ghostwriter’s byline can also appear on the cover.
This option is useful as a means of reducing upfront costs and harnessing the ghostwriter’s expertise or contacts during the publishing process.
4. Business Partner
A ghostwriter business partner is a co-author who becomes a joint-venture partner in the project. In such cases, the book ghostwriter may waive upfront fees substantially in exchange for revenue shares of up to 50 percent.
As with any business relationship, the author and ghostwriter must share similar visions, values and goals. They must also be able to work together effectively over a longer time period for sustained success.
In this case, the author and ghostwriter sign more detailed contracts spelling out each person’s specific roles and responsibilities. These responsibilities might include securing a literary agent, working with publishers and pursuing marketing activities.
This option requires the least upfront payment but the most long-term profit-sharing and commitment. It is to be used only if you and your ghostwriter are strongly aligned and can work together as business partners.
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