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How Much Do Ghostwriters Cost?

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You’ve got an idea for a book. It’s all in your head—the characters, the setting, even the plot. But you don’t have the time to write the story, or you lack the talent to translate your vision into the written word. Luckily, you can find ghostwriters for hire to write the book on your behalf. However, you must be prepared to pay a premium for having a writing professional turn your idea into a fully fleshed publication. Depending on the project and the ghostwriter, the service can cost you as little as $8,000 or up to $250,000.

What Does a Ghostwriter Do?

Ghostwriting is defined as the act of writing a literary or journalistic work for another, with the original author receiving full or major credit for the text. Ghostwriters often work for busy people who want or need to write books, columns, speeches, etc. but don’t have the time or ability to do so.

Beyond writing, a ghostwriter is also responsible for filling in the gaps to complete partially written pieces. This includes collecting or organizing concepts, interviewing the client or relevant people, researching topics, and even publishing the work.

How Much Does a Ghostwriter Cost?

The rates of ghostwriters vary drastically. You can get writers willing to work for anywhere between $8,000 to $20,000. These are usually inexperienced ghostwriters who are looking to bulk up their portfolios. Although it’s possible to find raw talent in this price range, you must be wary because the low cost might mean bad writing or inconsistent performance.

You can find great ghostwriters charging upwards of $20,000 to $80,000, which is the average in the industry. These writers often already have prior experience, with those in the lower-priced spectrum likely needing a gig immediately. When looking at writers in this range, note that more expensive services don’t always translate to better output, so it’s important to be extra discerning.

Expert ghostwriters might cost between $100,000 to $250,000, although these are rare, with only about a hundred people commanding this rate. These authors often have a ton of ghostwriting experience (some might’ve even authored best-selling work!) or have published their own work, so their experience and expertise come at a premium.

What Factors Affect the Cost of a Ghostwriter?

Four main factors affect how much a ghostwriter charges. These are:

The Scope of Work

Ghostwriters might charge less if there’s already some groundwork provided to complete the piece. These include a laid-out plot, research materials, transcribed interviews, etc. It removes additional work from them, allowing the ghostwriter to focus solely on writing. But if the ghostwriter must also do their own legwork to make sense of the piece, then expect to pay higher.

Similarly, the cost of ghostwriting a traditional book (200-300 pages) will be more expensive than ghostwriting a short story, column, or speech.

Skills and Experience

Just like any other job, a ghostwriter’s skills and experience will greatly define his or her service value. Writers without much experience will be in the lower price range, while those who have ghostwritten several pieces will likely charge more for their work.

Timeline

Writing takes some time, especially for long publications such as books. It typically takes several months to finish, and if this timeline is shortened, you should expect to pay a higher price for the rushed service.

Royalties

Ghostwriters don’t usually receive credit for their work unless they ask or are allowed to be acknowledged as a collaborator or editor in the book. Once the work is done and the service has been paid, the contract ends. But, in rare cases, some ghostwriters receive royalties as part of a payment package. This will likely cut some of the upfront monetary costs.

Why Are Ghostwriters So Expensive?

The work of a ghostwriter isn’t limited to just writing. They’re basically putting in all of the effort it takes to self-publish a book, including researching, interviewing, etc. Plus, they don’t get credit for the legwork done. The company or personality that hired them often gets the fame and reaps whatever fortune comes with future book sales.

Ghostwriting, then, is a full package, one that rewards the writer solely with monetary compensation (and experience, plus a title in their portfolio), which explains why the price is much steeper than the rates of regular writers.

How Does a Ghostwriter Charge?

Most ghostwriters ask for a flat fee for the full project, paid either fully as once or broken down into milestones. Some, on the other hand, charge per word written or per hour worked. It’s important for anyone hiring a ghostwriter to consider these payment options to better gauge the value of the service.

Flat Fee

Some ghostwriters, usually experienced ones, charge a flat fee that accounts for the entire project. This rate is based on several things, which are determined by initial discussions about the work, timeline, and deliverables. It also often includes computations for legwork, revisions, etc.

This fee can be paid like a regular salary, either twice or once a month for the duration of the project timeline. It can also be paid out based on milestones, wherein the author receives payment after finishing certain tasks or content sections.

Per Word or Per Hour

There is a selection of ghostwriters who charge per word or hour. However, some writers might get the wrong motivation in this set-up, adding more text or taking their time to get more compensation. If this is the way you plan on paying out your writer, it’s important to set limits on word count and work hours to make sure that you pay based on your budget.

Should I Hire a Ghostwriter?

Hiring a ghostwriter is a sensible option, especially if you don’t have the time or skill to put your ideas onto paper. Finding the right one isn’t just about budgetary limitations. You must also consider the skills, experience, work ethic, and compatibility of your writer to ensure that you end up with the best output—it’ll be your name on the cover, after all.

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