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As A Book Ghostwriter I’ll Sometimes Do A Short, Free Sample

The other day I more or less advised freelance writers not to do sample articles for employers who were offering low pay. 

But I ghostwrite books, which is quite different than ghostwriting articles. (In truth, I wish that the definition of ghostwriting hadn’t expanded to include SEO articles, but it has.) When a prospective client contacts me about ghostwriting a book I’ll often offer to do a sample for free. Here’s the why and that how of that for me:

  • I want to be sure I can work with the material the client will be giving me. Often that’s just an interview over the phone. Sometimes it’s written material or recorded talks or even recorded interview sessions. Until I actually do a sample I’m not sure I can take the material and turn it into stuff worth of a book.
  • I want the client to see a short sample of my work so they are convinced I’m the ghost they want.
  • I limit my sample to two or three pages and I time myself while I’m working with the material and getting those two or three pages written. This allows me to put together a proposal for the whole project that is based on how much time I will actually be spending on the book. Although I write pretty quickly, so much depends on how the information gets from the client’s head to mine.

Recently I’ve begun to charge a bit for this service. That allows me to not only earn some money but to assure myself the client is willing to pay at least something. Of course, I don’t do the sample until we’ve had a conversation about how much it costs to ghostwrite a book. I want to be sure the potential client is comfortable with the fees I charge.
Writing for free can make sense; just make sure why you’re doing it and limit the amount of writing for free you do.


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{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Isaac March 12, 2009, 11:02 am

    I think writing for free at first is a good marketing tool. But writers can’t get in the habit of doing it.

    Isaac’s last blog post..Query Letter that Worked

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