Your story is important to you and youʼre here because youʼre looking for a professional ghost writer to help you to tell that story. Understandably, youʼd like an idea of what might be involved in ghost writing and what a ghost writer might cost. Because ghost writing projects come in all shapes with myriad variations, I canʼt cover the fees for every type of ghostwriting project here but I can give you some indications.
Also, although I’m based in Sydney, Australia, this applies wherever you are — I’ve been a ghost writer for clients all over the world.
I’ve learned itʼs important to be clear from the outset that youʼre taking on a professional for the days, weeks or months that it takes to ghostwrite your story. I will be as passionate about your story as you are; but the time Iʼm spending ghost writing your project has to be paid for because writing is how I make my living.
The cost of ghost writing an article depends on the subject matter, the complexity of the writing and the length of the piece. A ghost-written article on a topic Iʼm familiar with will cost less than ghost writing that involves copious research. The more background information youʼre able to give me, the lower the cost.
The rule of thumb for articles is $1 per word but I will always quote you a project fee.
I also ghost write speeches, brochures, corporate bios, etc.
I can also take work youʼve already done and polish it for you. If you send me a sample, I can quote you a project fee.
A modern business book (large font, designed to be read on a long ﬂight) is about 60,000 words; a literary novel might be 120,000 words; most books on a bookstore shelf are about 80,000 words.
My job is to go from never having met you to being able to write 300 or so pages as if I were you.
To do that, Iʼll be spending time getting to know you. First by talking about your vision for the book as its author, a discussion I would then shape into an outline.
Typically, I would then review your source material and record a series of interviews with you and any relevant sources on each of the sections of the book. For a business book, I might shadow you for a while to get a sense of how you go about things.
Those interviews would be a couple of hours each. The number of them and over what period they would happen would depend on the book and your availability.
I would transcribe those interviews and work the material into a ﬁrst draft for you to review. I would have sent you pages along the way so you could help me to reﬁne the writing into your voice.
Again, every book is different but the stages of most projects are, therefore:
- A comprehensive outline
- Interviews and research
- Ghost writing a ﬁrst draft
- Writing the ﬁnal draft
On average it takes three months to ghost write that ﬁrst draft. Often those months will be spread over a longer period because of factors like your availability. Also, the process often works best if there are breaks that allow the material to percolate for us both.
The average cost of writing a book is between $30,000 and 50,000.
A hard truth
For many of you that will have been a difficult read. You’ve come here because you’re passionate about your story or you hoped you’d be able to make money telling it. Unfortunately, even the fastest ghost writers can’t turn out a book in a couple of days or for less than the cost of a week’s rent. (And, as in any profession, the fastest and the cheapest are usually not the best.)
Books in particular are substantial projects and, if you’re taking on someone else to do the work, you’re taking on the cost of the ghost writer for time it takes to ghost write the book. In short, your project might be someone else’s source of income for a considerable time.
The truth is that very few people make back the money they spend on writing a book, not directly, anyway; and especially not if they’ve had to pay a ghost writer to do the actual writing.
If you were after financial reward from your book, it’s much more likely to come indirectly. Being “the author of…” makes a wonderful calling card. Authorship is a proof of expertise for professionals, entrepreneurs and keynote speakers; and books are a great way of confirming for clients that they’ve signed on with the best.
Seth Godin put it well on his blog when he said, “The only people who should plan on making money from writing a book are people who made money on their last book. Everyone else should either be in it for passion, trust, referrals, speaking, consulting, change-making, tenure, connections or joy.”
Getting published; royalties
Some people who contact me through the website are hoping that I might ghost write their book for free for a share of the eventual royalties. Unfortunately, writing for publication is a speculative business. There are more great stories that never get published than that do; and most of the relatively small number of books that do get published will not sell more than a few thousand copies.
As I’ve said above, writing a book is months of work. You will not find a ghost writer who can afford to work for months without pay in the hopes that they might get a royalty check 18 months or more down the line.
Self-publishing today is more than the vanity publishing of old, where someone might have a printer make 50 copies of a book for friends or family. The arrival of the web meant that even the smallest company could look as good online as the biggest company in the world. The same is true of eBook publishing through platforms like Amazon’s Kindle. Your book in the Kindle store (or Apple’s iBookstore, Sony’s Nook, etc.) can look as good as any book from a 100-year-old publishing house.
Just as search on the web is democratic, so is search through eBookstores: your book will be as prominently displayed in Amazon’s Kindle store as one by Tony Robbins or Thomas Keneally. And, you’ll be getting much more than the 10% royalty you would get from a publisher.
If you are looking to publish your work directly, I can help you publish your ebook or print-on-demand title.
If you would like to talk to me about your ghost writing project, you can reach me through the Contact the ghost writer page on this site.
To get us started, it would be helpful to know a little about your project. Is it an article, a book, somewhere in between? What’s it about? Who is your audience? Do you have a timeframe in mind? Have you already written parts of it? Is it a book you’ve written and you just want help getting it into an eBook format?
I do my best to get back to all enquiries within a couple of working days, but it might take a little longer, especially if I’m at the critical stages of another client’s book. On their project, as on yours, my priority is always on writing the story I’ve been entrusted with, not lining up the next job.
(And don’t forget I’m in Sydney, Australia, so the time difference might come into play.)
I look forward to putting your story into words.