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Hang of Thursdays
10-04-2006, 06:37 AM
I might be in a position to ghostwrite for someone. I'm inexperienced in that area. What are the usual rates? (being inexperienced in that area, of course, I'd undercharge, but it's nice to know what someone else will be charging)

silky
10-04-2006, 04:12 PM
What do YOU mean by ghost-writing? Depending on what you intend to do will have a bearing on what you charge.

Janis Love
10-04-2006, 08:04 PM
We do a lot of ghost writing and have charged different rates depending whether the book will be self published or published by a publishing house. Axel has a MFA in Creative Writing and taught at the college level which gives him the credentials to charge $100 to $150 per hour. We have the additional advantage in that we are represented by a renowned agent.

If the book is going to be self published, you want to get an hourly rate only because the prospect of royalties will be bleak. You also want to get money up front.

If the book is going to be published by a publishing company, you want to do a combination of hourly and royalties. We are currently ghost writing a memoir for someone who is pretty famous and our agent has agreed to represent it since the person has a huge existing platform. We are charging a $10,000 advance to get the proposal done which will be deducted from the advance once its picked up by a publisher. We are then getting 1/3 of the royalties.

There are a lot of different options and price points.

Hope this helps.

Janis

Hang of Thursdays
10-05-2006, 04:21 AM
What do YOU mean by ghost-writing? Depending on what you intend to do will have a bearing on what you charge.

Initially, I'd be taking the first three chapters of a story by someone else and whipping it into sellable shape, pretty much making a book proposal (I figure some kind of flat rate for this, half before writing, half on completion), which will then get shopped around (and when/if it gets picked up), taking pre-written material and doing what needs to be done to it to get into final draft form.

Thanks, guys

JennaGlatzer
10-05-2006, 04:33 AM
I have typically charged $5,000 flat rate to ghostwrite a book proposal. Then we've negotiated the price for the book itself after a publisher has made an offer. Normally, it's a nice advance and a small percentage of the royalties for me. In cases where they don't want to do any royalties, I charge a higher flat rate.

Cathy C
10-05-2006, 06:24 AM
:eek: $5,000 to write the PROPOSAL?! Man . . . I am in the wrong business.

JennaGlatzer
10-05-2006, 06:45 AM
;) These have almost always been projects referred to me by agents who expect to sell the proposal for big bucks for the client. So if I charge $5,000, and they get an advance of at least $50,000, it's more than worth it.

Talia
10-06-2006, 06:08 AM
;) These have almost always been projects referred to me by agents who expect to sell the proposal for big bucks for the client. So if I charge $5,000, and they get an advance of at least $50,000, it's more than worth it.

WOWSER!

I have a mate who does ghostwriting for a publisher - either bios or health type books for sporty people. In most of them she gets paid a word rate (up to 50 cents per word) for the first 3 chaps and proposal. If the publisher goes ahead then they negotiate a share of royalties and/or word rate.

good business if you can get it!

JennaGlatzer
10-06-2006, 06:13 AM
Yep. This is why I mostly do ghostwriting these days! I wasn't making nearly that kind of money from my own books.

The flip side is that my own books were easier to write. For my ghostwriting projects, they're usually very heavy research. I wind up feeling like I might as well go for a graduate degree in whatever subject I'm studying.

Talia
10-06-2006, 09:42 AM
What sort of credit do you get in the books?

I've seen some ghostwriting where the writer is "with" so they are named on the cover. I've also seen some where the ghost writer isn't even listed in the acknowledgements. I think that would cheese me off, no matter how much $ I was paid.

Okay, maybe if it was enough for a year long cruise and I had George Clooney to squire me I might forget about the lack of credit...

JennaGlatzer
10-06-2006, 10:08 AM
Totally varies. I always ask for a "with" credit. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I'm not mentioned anywhere and am forbidden to even mention the book on a resume. It is frustrating.

acousticgroupie
10-09-2006, 10:53 PM
yeah i'm doing more ghosting. it's hard becuase it's not "my baby" but it pays well depending on the publisher.

expatbrat
10-16-2006, 05:36 PM
Jenna, Janis and others – it is fantastic to see you guys are making proper money from this. You should be doing well. It is not just about the time you spend writing what you sell, you are also selling the skills and knowledge you have accumulated over your lifetime.

A friend once told me the story of Picasso: Apparently Picasso was sitting in a restaurant when a fellow diner spotted him and gushed “ooh my God, you’re Picasso. I’d be honoured if you would paint my portrait for me.” Being the dedicated artist that he was Picasso had his brushes and canvas with him and quickly whipped up a Picasso masterpiece. The women was delighted, “oooh it is your best work ever,” she gushed, “how much for this beautiful painting?”

“That will be 200,000 dollar please” Picasso announced to the gushing diner.

“200,000 dollar!” She was shocked. “But it only took you half an hour.”

“Yes,” said Picasso, “but it took me a lifetime to learn how to paint like that in half an hour.”

Talia
10-17-2006, 01:26 AM
That's a very good story! And so true. I love it. I must remember that because I sometimes find myself discounting my consulting fees to friends but I have to remind myself of the long "apprenticeship" in learning the skills/knowledge that I pass on.

The area of ghostwriting that I find interesting is in fiction. Have you noticed a lot of authors are co-writing books with established names. James Patterson is the one that comes to mind. The styles of the books are so different it is obvious that the co-author penned the entire book. Patterson probably consulted on the basic storyline and then left his co-writer to ghostwrite the entire book. That's my theory anyway!

Janis Love
10-17-2006, 05:15 AM
I've heard the Picasso story before and always think about it before I price any project because it is VERY true!

Jenna -- This question is for you since you do a lot of ghost writing. After you get the money for the proposal and you continue to ghost write the entire book, do you charge an hourly plus a percentage of royalties or just an hourly rate or just a percentage of royalties?

We charge for the proposal and then deduct that charge for the proposal from the advance once its picked up by a publisher. Its a nonrefundable advance if its not picked up by a publisher (Traditional publishing only. We charge a straight hourly if its going to be self published.) Then we write the rest of the book for 33 1/3% of royalties. We also are represented by a renowned agent and would not take on a book for a traditional publisher unless it is publishable. How do you work the writing of the rest of the book? I just want to make sure we're not leaving money on the table. Thanks.

Janis

Thought Leadership
10-17-2006, 06:55 PM
Interesting thread. jenna and other contributors have opened my eyes! I presumed GW's just put down on paper what others, who were grammatically challenged, said... I was surprised to see that research comes into play but, thinking about it, perhaps I am not.

Janis Love
10-17-2006, 07:51 PM
Ghost writing takes someone with superior writing skills. When someone has a story to tell, but isn't a professional writer, they tend to "tell" and not "show" when writing their book which isn't engaging to the reader. Its very difficult to ghost write because you have to do tons of research on various subject matters like Jenna said, and if you're doing a memoir, you have to be adept at making your words sound like the words of that individual, but better.

Writing is the only profession in which everyone thinks they are a professional writer just because they wrote essays and stories in school and because their mom and Aunt Edna have told them that they're "brilliant writers".

Janis

Bartholomew
10-20-2006, 03:08 AM
Ghost writing takes someone with superior writing skills. When someone has a story to tell, but isn't a professional writer, they tend to "tell" and not "show" when writing their book which isn't engaging to the reader. Its very difficult to ghost write because you have to do tons of research on various subject matters like Jenna said, and if you're doing a memoir, you have to be adept at making your words sound like the words of that individual, but better.

Writing is the only profession in which everyone thinks they are a professional writer just because they wrote essays and stories in school and because their mom and Aunt Edna have told them that they're "brilliant writers".

Janis

Every literate person is an amatuer writer in the sense that they do not write for money.

Professional writers have been paid for their work.

You can find shitty writing and awesome writing from authors in both categories.

JennaGlatzer
10-20-2006, 05:51 AM
Janis, I always charge a flat fee for the book itself (I don't try to break it down into any kind of hourly fee... too complicated. I just try to determine what would make it worth my time), and that amount varies in part based on whether or not they're sharing any royalties with me. I can work either way, but the bulk of the money is always the flat fee, not the royalty percentage. So, for example (and I'm throwing out fictitious numbers here), I might do one project for $25,000 plus 20% of the royalties, or another for $35,000 and no royalties. When I was newer to this and people weren't throwing big projects my way, it was more royalty, lower flat fee.

My first ghostwriting project was someone who approached me as an individual with a story to tell. We agreed on a straight 50-50 split before I worked on the proposal-- I charged nothing for the proposal, because I knew perfectly well that it would sell and that the guy didn't have money to pay me up front, but we first signed an agreement saying that we'd split everything (advance and royalties) straight down the middle.

That was a gamble, and it's one I don't have to make anymore, but I'm glad I did it. It definitely helped me to establish myself as a ghostwriter.

Nowadays, although it's the flat rate that matters most to me, I prefer to get at least a SMALL royalty (one is currently paying me 7% of her royalties) just in case it hits bestseller lists, so I don't hate myself later for the book's success! ;)

acousticgroupie
10-22-2006, 06:49 AM
i work for a self-publishing company. any other good resources for ghosting projects? i find i'm better at non-fiction; i don't want to mess up a biography or anything... those are too personal for me, i guess:)

Talia
10-22-2006, 07:42 AM
Kristen Fischer - what sort of resources are you looking for? If you are more specific we may be able to help...