How Much Do I Charge to Ghostwrite a Book?

When it comes to how much ghostwriters charge, there are no established standards or protocol.

Based on my 20 years of experience ghostwriting and having written 28 books, this is what you can generally expect when looking at ghostwriters and their fees.

You'll find Craigslist ghostwriters around $2000. Beginning professional ghosts typically charge less than $10,000. Ghostwriters with 10 or so books of experience generally charge around $25,000. That number to about $40,000 is where you'll find ghostwriters with 10-25 books and most of their experience in self-published authors, perhaps a book with a traditionally published author. $40k to $50k, in my experience, are usually ghosts who've worked for several traditionally published authors as well as self-published and have done more than 20 books. Above $50k to about $80k is where you'll find ghostwriters with the additional savvy of knowing how to find a literary agent, who require their name to receive a 'with' cover credit, a percentage of royalties (typically 5 - 10%), and a wide range of expertise from just starting a book, to finding an agent, acquiring a publisher, and marketing the book. Fees over $100,000 are pretty much reserved for ghostwriting for celebrities.

So how much do I charge now and how did I get there?

For my first ghostwriting project, I had no prior ghostwriting experience, no idea of an appropriate fee, and no idea how many hours it would take. I settled on $2,500. 50% to start and 50% upon completion.

By my second book, I knew how much work it took for the prior book, so my decision to double my fee was an easy one: $5,000.

For my 3rd book, I knew my client had the money and more ego than prior clients. I’d also learned that beginning entrepreneurs routinely under-charge, so I decided to step into more confidence. When asked what I charged, I said, “Somewhere between $5,000 and $15,000, depending on several factors we’d discuss initially.” The low end was my last fee charged. The high end was the amount I’d like to make my new quote, but didn’t yet believe I could get. I quoted this client $10,000.

For ghostwritten book number four, my range was $10,000 to $25,000. I settled on $15,000. The next several books ranged between $15k and $20k. Sometimes, depending on the prospects perceived income, job, and my confidence, I wouldn’t quote a range, but a flat fee: $25,000. That’s right, more than the high end of my range.

If using a range, I now say $35k to $65k. For the last four books, I’ve charged between $45k and $55k.

There are many factors that go into the final fee I settle on and sometimes there are negotiations with potential clients. I'll cover both of those in detail in future posts.

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