How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter?
I know you came here for a hard answer, but unfortunately when it comes to ghostwriting fees:
I honestly believe ghostwriting has the biggest range of prices in any industry. From £1,000 to £1 million per book.
My first piece of advice is this: £1,000 is far too low (and, for that matter, £1 million is far too high). So what’s the right price?
Producing your book is one of the most important things you’ll ever do. It deserves complete care and attention. It deserves thorough research, careful planning, detailed interviews and flawless prose.
A good ghostwriter devotes every working hour to your book for four-six months. A good writer can’t possibly do that for £1,000. Quite frankly, they can’t do it for less than £10,000.
In general, there are three types of ghostwriter fees out there:
The Cheap: A quick internet search will bring up freelance boards with writers offering to write your book for £1,000. (And I’ve seen even lower). Anything less than £8,000 is considered ‘cheap’ to write a full 100-300 page book from scratch. If this is your budget, it is possible to find a talented new writer out there, but there’s an element of risk involved.
The Professional: Most professional ghostwriters charge in the region of £15,000 to £70,000, depending on the scope of the project and the amount of work involved. This guarantees a professional level of service, high-quality work, and undivided attention.
The Premium: At the very top end of the scale, ghosts for celebrities and politicians will often charge upwards of £100,000 and may negotiate a royalty payment.
Most ghostwriters are happy to come to an agreement, within reason. If they have particular interest in your idea, they may even lower their price.
Will Ghostwriters Work For a Cut of Royalties?
I’m often asked this question. The short answer is ‘yes, sometimes’. If the book has a great deal of commercial potential, they may agree to work solely on a royalty split, but given the unpredictability of success, few ghosts agree to this.
Alternatively, if there is a publisher involved, a ghost will often take their payment out of the advance (typically 40-50%).
Do Ghostwriters Charge by the Hour, Word, or Project?
Personally, I charge an upfront fee based on the entire project. I like everyone to know exactly where they stand before I start writing. By doing this, there are no surprises or unexpected costs at the end. Everyone is happy.
Some writers will quote an hourly rate or charge by the word. This is common, but not something I like to do for ghostwriting. Why? Because it’s not easy to predict the full scope of a project. The book may grow longer than the client expected. Or it may take longer than expected to gather research. At this point, the cost balloons past the client’s expectation.
Secondly, there is a lot of interview time involved in ghosting a book. The last thing I want is my client feeling like the meter is running while we’re chatting.
I’d rather my client know exactly what they’re getting from the start. If the client changes the scope or length after the initial agreement, I may charge by the word or hour for the additional work, but that is all agreed in writing beforehand.
Can I Pay in Installments?
Almost always, yes.
Paying a large sum of money up front is always daunting, which is why I break down the costs of ghostwriting over a few months. Here’s how I do it:
We’ll start with a deposit while I gather the information and write the first chapter. If you like the style and direction, we jump into a payment plan across the rest of the project. The final payment is due when the book is completed.
Or, you can pay it all up front if you prefer.
Other Ghostwriting Factors to Consider
What is the scope and complexity of your book? The longer and more niche the subject, the longer it will take your ghost to research and complete.
How much work have you already done? If you come to a ghostwriter with a blank canvas, it will take them longer to form the concept and narrative of the book, incurring a bigger cost. On the other hand, I cut my fees considerably for those who have already written a majority portion of their book.
It takes at least four months to ghostwrite a high-quality, professional book. Consider the cost of hiring another professional, like your accountant, for a four month, full-time period, and the ghostwriting fee starts to make sense.
Are there any other services involved? Some ghosts are in a position to offer help with publishing. They may introduce you to publishers and literary agents. They may put together a ‘submission’ package or even self-publish your book themselves. These services will all incur an additional charge.
What is your deadline? I’ve worked with some clients who wanted a two-month turnaround. If the project seems possible, I will drop everything and work 14 hours a day to make it happen. But there will be an additional charge for a tight deadline.
With ghostwriting, you really do get what you pay for. When I started out, I significantly underestimated the amount of work involved in ghostwriting a book from scratch. Now, my fees reflect the attention to detail I feel every book deserves, combined with a decade of writing experience.
I hope that answers some of your questions. My best advice is to send me your ideas, and we can discuss your project directly. That way, I can give you a clear quote. If you’re excited about the idea of bringing your book to life, click here to read about how ghostwriting works, and how we would work together.