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View Full Version : Need help for writing a proposal and how much to charge



Cassiopeia
07-22-2010, 06:20 AM
Okay, I need help. I'm so out of my league.

I've just received a call from the University professor that I do research work for and editing. He and a business associate want to take all the literature and teaching materials from 15 years and have me condense it into a book for them. Neither has time to do the writing and they asked me to do it.

I asked if they want a ghost writer and they said no, they want to pay me to write it and give me credit by listing them first and me as "with".

I have no idea how much to charge...what I should be thinking in terms of royalties. I have no idea what sort of proposal to come up with.

They are offering a down payment for the work but don't know what I'd want and then I need a schedule for the work.

I think I need a query process to find out exactly what they are wanting the book to be.

Okay so someone help me. I can't think. I'm too excited.

aruna
07-22-2010, 01:42 PM
I can't help you but congratulations!

shaldna
07-22-2010, 02:07 PM
How much is your time worth?

How long will it take you to do it? How many hours?

Cassiopeia
07-22-2010, 09:26 PM
Thanks aruna. :)

shaldna, I haven't ever done this before, I have no idea how long it will take. My time is worth a bazillion dollars. :) But I can hardly charge that.

scope
07-22-2010, 09:43 PM
Okay, I need help. I'm so out of my league.

I've just received a call from the University professor that I do research work for and editing. He and a business associate want to take all the literature and teaching materials from 15 years and have me condense it into a book for them. Neither has time to do the writing and they asked me to do it.

I asked if they want a ghost writer and they said no, they want to pay me to write it and give me credit by listing them first and me as "with".

This sounds like a massive job that's going to engulf your time. So, the first question I have is what do the professor's expect? You say they want you to write but they don't want a ghostwriter. What do they want you to write? Are you just to take their literature and teaching materials from 15 years and simply put them together--I'm sure not, I imagine there's more to it, and what that is, is quite important. When do they want the job finished (do you have the time to do so, or if the money is right, do you want to create the time to do so?). If they only want a proposal, you at least have to know what the book will be about, its reason for being, the audience, and a table of contents. Who do they think would be right to publish and market the work?


s

Wayne K
07-22-2010, 09:48 PM
A bazillion dollars and two shrubberies.






Congrats Cass. :)

Wayne K
07-22-2010, 09:49 PM
By proposal, do you mean a non fic proposal for the subbing process?

Namatu
07-22-2010, 11:19 PM
I can't help you out on the money front, but you should first talk with the both of them to determine what exactly needs to be done. Get the materials you'd have to work with. Maybe do a sample chapter for them (for a rate), which would allow you to gauge time and effort. Then you can sit down and discuss all the questions, issues, etc., that came up in that process and hash out firmer money details then.

Cassiopeia
07-23-2010, 02:01 AM
I don't think they realize what a Ghost Writer is. It's exactly what they are talking about. I am going to have to get a lot more information from them. The size of the project would take at LEAST 6 months to a year.

I wonder if they realize. Like I said, it's going to take more information.

Cassiopeia
07-23-2010, 02:56 AM
By proposal, do you mean a non fic proposal for the subbing process?I'm not going to be subbing the work, they will as far as I know they might even have a publisher lined up for it.

I don't know how much to charge them. I don't know how long it would take to write a 200-300 page book for them.

scope
07-23-2010, 08:14 AM
How can any of us give you even a ballpark idea of what to charge when you are not telling us exactly what you will have to do? Of course I realize that you do not know either, and that is a gigantic problem. I think you have t sit down with these two profs and find out exactly what they want you to do, express any concerns you may have based on what you hear, find out when they want the work completed, who the audience is, how they intend to try and sell the work, and anything else you are confused about. If you are not submitting the finished work, find out who is since to some degree what you do will be passed along for someone else to try and sell-I think. IMO you need a whole lot more info--for yourself and/or for other to try and offer guidance and advice. One thing seems evident to me. You are probably talking about many, many (and I do mean many) thousands of dollars if they want you to devote up to a year of your full time to the project and write, as you say, a 200-300 page book plus a proposal (let's assume they will do the query letter).

But then again, maybe they want you to do less than I am assuming.

You really need a face-to-face in depth meeting with the profs a/s/a/p.

Cassiopeia
07-23-2010, 10:55 AM
Why yes, Scope, I think that's what I posted just before your reply. And I do have a face to face on Tuesday.

I'm sorry to have frustrated you but this has been a great help to me in firming up the things I was wondering about what I need to know.

I see from your profile that you are a ghostwriter. Do you have specific hourly rates you charge or do you charge by the project. Have you written a full book for someone and how much did you charge them and what determined the rate you charged them?

Gugland
07-23-2010, 11:11 AM
scope makes some good points, specifically who the audience is and how they intend to sell the work.

If, say, they intend to sell it as a textbook, you might be inclined to take a little less up-front money in exchange for a bigger piece of the back end, since the book could end up being a compulsory purchase for thousands of students for years to come. Not to mention you could get lots of future work writing revisions & supplements.

But bear in mind that the more you leave on the back end, the more your future income falls into the hands of accountants you'll never meet, and you could get screwed. Trust me, I come from the record industry, I know.

On the other hand, if it's intended for sale to the general public, you'd likely want to get more money up front. There are several things to consider - is the topic something that the general public would care about? For how long? Is the prof expert enough and/or known enough to generate sales on his name power? Is it likely to get published at all? By whom? Is the publisher solvent/sustainable? Because if they disappear, so do your royalties. In what format(s) would it be published?

Try to get as much money as you can up front, BUT, don't give away that intent too early in the negotiations, as it would show a lack of faith in the project, and likely appear to them that you're over-leveraging your position. It sounds to me that the business associate has the money (or connections), the professor has the content, and you would be providing the labor. I know it takes a lot of skill to put a book together, but being realistic, you are the expendable one in that triangle. Be VERY conscious of this while negotiating. It sounds like the prof trusts you and has faith in your abilities. That's your trump card - don't play it too soon!

Another thing to consider is the relationship between the two of them. Is it solid enough to see the project through? Consider that one is a professor and one is a businessman (if I'm reading correctly) - they could have VERY different ideas about how things will unfold. If they split, you still need to get paid.

You also need reasonable assurances that the money truly exists. It's unlikely that they are liquid enough to give you six months to a year's "salary" up front. Even if they are, they'd be reluctant to offer it in one lump sum, just for motivational purposes if nothing else.

I'd say, come up with a reasonably monthly salary for yourself - what it would be worth to you to do this as a "job". Then add the cost of an assistant (whether you hire one or not), then add a reasonable amount for expenses (so you don't have to chase them down every time you need an printer cartridge). Use that as a monthly base "salary".

Now, double that. Then round it to an attractive sounding number. This can work to your advantage. I know it sounds silly, but remember that the initial negotiations will likely be verbal, and "eight grand" *sounds* smaller than "seventy-five hundred."

That amount should be in your bank account before you set pen to paper.

How you handle the rest is up for negotiation. You all might agree that it should take six months, but if it only takes you four, then they would get screwed by paying you everything up front. If it takes a year, then you would get screwed. Work it out so you get "X" amount every month (like a salary), but make sure the money really exists.

And there are other contingencies to consider, but I'm probably over-thinking things at this point. I should know better that to type about such things this late.

Cassiopeia
07-23-2010, 12:33 PM
It sounds to me that the business associate has the money (or connections), the professor has the content, and you would be providing the labor. I don't know why you'd assume that. I certainly didn't intend that to be my meaning. I was simply stating one is a university professor (department chair at that and making loads) and his associate is in business not another professor.




You also need reasonable assurances that the money truly exists. It's unlikely that they are liquid enough to give you six months to a year's "salary" up front. Even if they are, they'd be reluctant to offer it in one lump sum, just for motivational purposes if nothing else.

I'd say, come up with a reasonably monthly salary for yourself - what it would be worth to you to do this as a "job". Then add the cost of an assistant (whether you hire one or not), then add a reasonable amount for expenses (so you don't have to chase them down every time you need an printer cartridge). Use that as a monthly base "salary".

Now, double that. Then round it to an attractive sounding number. This can work to your advantage. I know it sounds silly, but remember that the initial negotiations will likely be verbal, and "eight grand" *sounds* smaller than "seventy-five hundred."

That amount should be in your bank account before you set pen to paper.

How you handle the rest is up for negotiation. You all might agree that it should take six months, but if it only takes you four, then they would get screwed by paying you everything up front. If it takes a year, then you would get screwed. Work it out so you get "X" amount every month (like a salary), but make sure the money really exists.

And there are other contingencies to consider, but I'm probably over-thinking things at this point. I should know better that to type about such things this late.I appreciate your input.

It's the what to charge that I'm most concerned with and at this point, I've gotten good ideas from here AND I have some emails with even more info.

I'll have a better idea after Tuesday. It's always a great idea when someone wants to do this, it's another when reality sets in and suddenly their pie in the sky idea costs more than they thought.

Thanks though.

scope
07-24-2010, 01:30 AM
Why yes, Scope, I think that's what I posted just before your reply. And I do have a face to face on Tuesday.

I did miss your post.Glad you set up a meeting.

I'm sorry to have frustrated you but this has been a great help to me in firming up the things I was wondering about what I need to know.

No, I'm not frustrated. I'm only frustrated that the 2 profs gave you such shoddy info on which to base anything.

I see from your profile that you are a ghostwriter. Do you have specific hourly rates you charge or do you charge by the project.

I have always charged by the project. Sometimes 1/3 rd up front (non refundable), 1/3 rd half-way through, 1/3 rd on completion. Sometimes 1/2 up front (non-refundable) and balance on completion. It varies from project to project.
However, to do so isn't as simple as it sounds. If you aren't completely familiar with all that the project entails, it can blow up in your face. I don't know what the profs want or expect or of your experience with all that will be required. If you feel there are some things you will have "to learn on the job" you may be better off going hourly.

Have you written a full book for someone

Yes, as well as a few series of books.

and how much did you charge them and what determined the rate you charged them?

At first I wasn't too concerned with the money. I just wanted to get as many books in the market, with my name, as I could. I took the first offer the publisher made to me, which wasn't too terrific. However, the book did well and led to my being offered other
jobs, the money for which I have no complaints. This path led to a familiarity with certain editors which allowed me to have "an open door" to submit my own work. That has worked out well, and it's something you may want to keep in mind.

As for actual rates, I don't think this is the appropriate place for me to discuss that.
What should you charge? Well, as I said in my last post it depends on what the profs want you to do, how much of your time will be involved, and how long it will take you. Figure it this way. Earlier you said it may take 6-12 months. Let's figure 6 months full time. If you value your time at $50.00 an hour X 8 hours daily, that's $400 a day, or $2,000 a week based on a five day week. $2,000 X 26 weeks = $52,000 plus expenses.
I think that's very reasonable. What about you?

veinglory
07-24-2010, 01:35 AM
I think the first step would be to write a proposal and three chapters and see if you can get a publisher. If not, the rest is moot.

Cassiopeia
07-24-2010, 04:05 AM
I think that's very reasonable. What about you?I think it's completely reasonable and your post really REALLY helped confirm my concerns and same thoughts. Though I need to make sure that people understand it isn't TWO professors. It's one professor, one associate of his through a very large company where the professor lectures for their business seminars. :)


I think the first step would be to write a proposal and three chapters and see if you can get a publisher. If not, the rest is moot.
I'm not the one responsible for it getting published. They are. But I'll see if that's something they'd like to do. I think however, that they do have a publisher that would be interested. This isn't the first time the professor has been published.

I'm just the writer. ;)

scope
07-24-2010, 06:39 AM
I just realized that I left something important out of my latest post. It reads as if I appeared out of nowhere and was sought out by a publisher to ghostwrite a book. Far from the case. First came the publication of a book I authored (my debut) by a big six company, which book went on to become an international best-seller.

I just don't want to give anybody a false impression.

Cassiopeia
07-24-2010, 10:39 AM
I just realized that I left something important out of my latest post. It reads as if I appeared out of nowhere and was sought out by a publisher to ghostwrite a book. Far from the case. First came the publication of a book I authored (my debut) by a big six company, which book went on to become an international best-seller.

I just don't want to give anybody a false impression.Hehe..not worries. And I do very much appreciate your sharing what you can of your experience.

I didn't seek out this possibility either. I was asked, most likely because I'm already the professor's research assistant and copy editor. And he likes the way I write. I had him for a class last fall.

Namatu
07-24-2010, 05:28 PM
I'm not the one responsible for it getting published. They are. But I'll see if that's something they'd like to do. I wouldn't approach them about this, but I would ask them if they have a publisher interested. If they already have one lined up, and a publishing history, then sample chapters to submit to publishers may be unnecessary. Depending.

Get any agreement in writing (there's probably a contract template out there somewhere), including your inclusion as the "with" author, payment schedule and amounts, with signatures and copies to all parties.

Re: payment, scope has good suggestions. I would also suggest attaching any payments to your delivery of chapters to them. For example, initial payment to start (smaller amount), delivery of one-third of total chapters by <insert date> ($), delivery of two-thirds of total chapters by <insert date> ($), delivery of full manuscript by <insert date> ($ - divide these three payments into even portions). You might also want to consider any revisions you may have to go back and do based on their review and feedback, or will they do this themselves? If the changes are substantive, they may want you to do them. In my experience (does not include ghost writers), these are part of the payments worked out above and not a separate charge.

Will you be involved in reviewing any copy editing or proofreading? They may not feel it's necessary, but it's good to discuss.

Doing a trial run with a sample chapter (for which you are paid) will allow you all to gauge how this process will work.