I recently wrote this article for Demand Studios (dang, DS needs an affiliate program because I mention them 500 times a day!)

My Internet research tells me that a ghostwriter with nothing in their portfolio typically can charge $7,000 to $9,000 for writing a book. You don’t say! Geesh, I am shortchanging myself once again! I am ghostwriting a book right now and I am getting $100 plus royalties. Oh, and the right to market and sell the book myself for 50% of the retail. I took this one on because I believe in the book – How to Negotiate with Car Dealers. The book has all the dirty little secrets of car dealers in it. Watch for that to show up here by December!

Ahem. Sorry. I got sidetracked.

Anyway, what does an experienced ghostwriter get paid? $10,000 to $20,000 for writing a full length book says my Internet source.

Let’s take a peek at what the Writer’s Market says on the subject.

Under Book Publishing:

Ghostwriting, as told to: $50-$100 per hour (average $73) or $5,500-$51,000 per project (average $20,375)

Ghostwriting, no credit: $43-$100 per hour (average $30) or $1,500-$45,000 per project (average $18,850) or $1-$3 per word (average $1.63)

So, I should be charging at least $1,500 for my ghostwriting project. Maybe the royalties will work out that way. In that project, the buyer is feeding me info and I am basically vamping it up, so I don’t know how much of a ghostwrite that actually is.

What should you charge to ghostwrite a 200 page book when the buyer just gives you an idea and says run with it?

Considering that a 200 page book has approximately 300 words per page, Writer’s Market says to charge at least $1 per word. Which is a total of $60,000. Wow! Well, that is what Writer’s Market says! Don’t shoot the messenger! Even if we, for reality’s sake, cut that in half, you are still looking at $30,000! Or did I screw up the math? (Everyone knows I hate math!)

So, as a freelance writer who has never written for any celebrities (if I had, I darn well would charge 60 grand!), I am going to go with charging my clients roughly the same that I charge for articles, which is anywhere from .05 cents per word to .20 per word.

How do I determine who gets charged what? It depends on many factors.

  1. How desperate am I for some cash?
  2. How much research do I have to do?
  3. Is the client coming from an online venue or the real world?

Quite honestly, #1 plays a big factor. If my project board is empty, I may be more than willing to take on your project for the low end of the payscale. Especially if it is a project I can get excited about.

#2 is another biggy for me. If I am clueless about the subject you propose, I am going to charge way more for my research time. I shy away from these though because generally it is just not fun to write about topics that I cannot generate some passion about.

#3 is reality check time. Clients from online venues like Elance, Guru, etc. are looking for cheap outsourcing, not writers. Now, I don’t want to tick off my clients at Elance, but surely they will admit that the providers at Elance charge far far less than a real world writer. I get business from the real world, and I charge a much higher rate. And I must be doing okay with that because they keep coming back for more.

Next blog: You tell me. What do you want to know?