How Much Do Ghostwriters Make? The Painful Truth

How much do ghostwriters make? Not as much as it seems.I know ghostwriting can cause a case of sticker shock! Wow, how come they charge so much? At least it seems like they charge a lot. They’re just writing a book, right? How come it costs so much? And how much do ghostwriters make, anyway?

Ghostwriting opens up the ability for anyone to publish their thoughts, ideas, experiences and whatever else they want. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to write, you can always find a freelance ghost to do the writing for you.

The market for ghostwriters is virtually unlimited. There are always people who have something to say and want to get it published, but don’t know how to write or don’t have the time. Writing is hard work and requires a specialized set of skills and knowledge.

If you want to become a ghostwriter, you must enjoy writing. In fact, you must have a passion for the written word. You’re going to be spending your time crafting sentences and paragraphs, so you’d better understand the concepts of grammar, spelling and style. On top of that, you must be able to write on a tight schedule and to a budget. For ghostwriters, writer’s block is a luxury that cannot be afforded. Do ghostwriters suffer from writer’s block? You bet they do! But because it’s their job and their livelihood, they can’t give into it. They must write regardless of their mood or else they can’t pay the bills.

A Breakdown of Ghostwriter Fees

You think ghostwriters charge too much? On the contrary, usually they undercharge for their services.The fees that ghostwriters charge largely depends on their confidence in their abilities, their experience, their skills, and how well they are able to market themselves. It might seem that ghostwriters make too much money, but in reality it’s much less than it seems.

Besides the ability to write very well, the most important variable that can make or break a ghostwriter is confidence. Excellent ghostwriters know they can get the job done. They’ve done it before, they succeeded, and they can do it again. That’s the attitude they must have to prosper and get clients.

Writing a book is not a simple task. If  you don’t believe that, try it yourself sometime. Writing is hard and being creative day after day, month after month is even more difficult.

Research. Nonfiction books require research. Even if this is done by the client, the ghostwriter must review the materials, choose what is appropriate for the work, then write it into the manuscript. This may also necessitate reviews of the subject matter with the client.

Reviewing materials. if the client provides written, audio, or other materials, they must be reviewed by the ghost. These materials often consist of non-computerized handwritten or typed notes, journals, diaries, and other things. One client gave me her dream journals – she wrote them in the middle of the night after waking up from a dream – which were basically disorganized, handwritten notes.

Interviews. Client interviews are essential to ghostwriting a book. How else can a ghostwriter get the ideas, concepts, experiences, and thoughts of the client into the book?

Third-party interviews. Some books require third-party interviews. In these cases, it’s common for ghostwriters to do these at an extra, hourly rate.

Writing. Of course, the book must be written, often one chapter at a time.

Edited. Once a chapter has been written, it must be reviewed and corrected.

Proofread. Sometimes the chapter will be reviewed again to catch any proofreading errors.

Reviewed with the customer. The ghostwriter will send the chapter to the client for review, then go over any requested modifications.

Revisions. The chapter must be revised and then reviewed with the customer again.

Review and revision of the entire book. Once the book is complete, it must be reviewed again in it’s entirety to catch any issues. Some ghostwriters will charge by the hour for this and any other revisions.

Of course, any money that a ghostwriter earns is taxed and there are additional business expenses such as a computer, internet connection, application, legal services, accounting, and so on.

Content Mills

The advent of the Internet and content mills such as eLance, Fiverr, and so on has changed the marketplace for writing because the competition has opened up to the entire world. In the past, a freelance writer was competing against other writers in their own area. That’s no longer true, and these sites have undercut professional writers, dropping rates to the bottom of the pay scale.

Why is this so? Because different countries in the world have different living standards. A ghostwriter living in the United States must make a higher income then one living in Pakistan or India, as a general rule.

I asked a writer in the Ukraine why she was only charging $100 for 10,000 words of copy. I pointed out that she can make a lot more money. She said she understood, but for her, $100 paid for the groceries and rent for her family for an entire month.

How Much Do Ghostwriters Make?

In the United States and Europe, it’s typical for an experienced ghostwriter to ask for a minimum of $10,000 for a 15,000 word a book. To put it another way, expect to pay $0.50 to a dollar per word. Higher-end ghostwriters who have written and published bestsellers, especially for celebrities, command higher rates. It’s not unheard of for a high-end ghostwriter to charge $100,000 or more for a book.

The best course of action is to find a ghostwriter that fulfills your requirements and that you can work with, and then negotiate a fair rate. You can expect to pay between $0.50 and a dollar per word. That cost can vary greatly depending on the number of interviews and amount of research that needs to be done.