The other day I more or less advised freelance writers not to do sample articles for employers who were offering low pay. On the other hand, as a ghostwriter I may handle the request quite differently.
As a ghostwriter of books, I recognize how difficult it can be for me to know if I can truly work with a client and if they can work with me. One way to solve that problem is to offer to do a short sample for free.
Here are the reasons why:
I want to be sure I can work with the material
Every ghostwriter receives the material to be written about in a variety of ways. Sometimes it’s draft work the author has already done. Sometimes I’ll get transcripts of talks or workshops the author has done. Most often, however, it’s through recorded discussions about the material during a phone call. Until I actually do a sample I’m not sure I can take the material and turn it into stuff worth of a book.
The client needs to know I’m their ghostwriter
I want the client to see a short sample of my work so they are convinced I’m the ghostwriter they want. This I find is best done through a short sample – maybe only two or three pages. That’s usually enough to convince both of us that I can do the job.
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 as the ghostwriter Although I write pretty quickly, so much depends on how the information gets from the client’s head to mine.
Sometimes I charge for the sample
Sometimes I charge for the sample, although not always. Charging both 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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