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Do I Charge Too Much For My Ghostwriting? Probably Not

A couple of weeks ago I submitted a proposal to ghostwrite and edit a book to a potential new client. He found me through my Anne Wayman site. I’d taken some serious time to estimate how much time it would take me to first ghostwrite a book proposal for him and then complete the book. It was a nifty project. The author and I had a great connection and I thought I’d probably get the gig.

The potential ghostwriting client called last night to tell me I was “too rich for his blood.” We talked a bit more and it turned out he’d been shopping with lots of other ghostwriters and had  found at least a couple of writers who were willing to do his  book for way less than half of what I had proposed.

I didn’t have the feeling he was trying to beat me down in price and he seemed almost apologetic when I explained that although there was some flexibility in my price, half, or less than half was way less than I was willing to take.

I then suggested that he make sure he include a way to get out of the contract if it isn’t working out no matter who he hires. I always include this type of clause because wheels do come off ghostwriting projects and there’s nothing worse than either party feeling stuck.

I also invited him to consider me a resource, and I asked if I could have a copy of the book once it was finished. He seemed surprised and delighted with my suggestions and my interest. I like to leave even those who turn me down feeling good about our brief association. It isn’t always possible, but it usually is. Making such offers, when I can do so honestly makes me feel better about the whole transaction.

Do I think my price was too high? No I don’t. Can he get a good job done for way less than I charge? Maybe. I know there are good ghostwriters out there who, for reasons all their own, charge less and sometimes considerably less than I do,  but that’s not my problem. I’ve learned to charge what I’m worth, even when it means I lose a project now and again.

Are you willing to let potential clients go if they won’t meet your price? Do you even know what your price is?


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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Anne

    Well said, Steve. Thanks.

  • Anne:

    Great post. Same thing happened to me. Someone was looking for a book to be ghostwritten, and right off the bat, he told me that “the bids so far from a number of people are agreeable — all around the $1,000.00 area.”

    He was either snowing me (most likely) or there are a lot of people desperate for work (maybe that to), but I certainly wasn’t going to lower myself to that level. I sent him in my estimate anyway, and he immediately rejected it — but in kind. My email follow up to him was the same.

    You charge what you’re worth. If prospects don’t like it, so be it. Your head is held high.


    Steve Sears
    Freelance writer
    (862) 703-8770

  • Anne

    I’m not as good as follow up as I should be… in spite of what I tell you to do 😉

  • Anne

    Thanks Paula, and you’re right, at least sometimes people have more money to spend… never hurts to ask.

  • This is such good advice, Anne. Once upon a time I was in a position to hire people, and those who made the kind of positive impression you strove for here, eventually always got some of my business, on some project or another. Meg has a good point, some people are just being honest about their budgets, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have more to spend some other time.
    .-= Paula Swenson´s last blog ..What Would YOU do if you knew you couldn’t fail? =-.

  • Meg

    I’ve had several potential clients tell me they couldn’t afford my rate. Sometimes they are obnoxious about it (Yes, I DO know that you can find a writer on Craig’s List to do it for 25 cents a page. Good luck with that!) but sometimes they’re just being honest about their project and budget. One startup who couldn’t afford my rates in the beginning contacted me later to rewrite what they’d hired someone less expensive to write! I think you’re right here — and it will remind me just how important a polite follow-up email can be.
    .-= Meg´s last blog ..My Problem With Yoga =-.

  • admin

    Right on, Angela… I also quit a blog network because of a massive change in pay… not going to work for less than a 1/4 of the original deal. Plus they wanted more rights not less.

    So here we are 😉

  • Angela West

    You go girl. When things become all about money you know you don’t want the job anyway. I recently started writing for a blogging network that wanted to pay less than going rate for articles but I thought I’d give it a shot because they were short and it was good “filler” – then they changed the rules and backfilled the SEO tasks onto the writers. Considering the low rate paid for the articles in the first place, I won’t be writing for them anymore as they have effectively doubled the value of what the writers are supposed to be providing without upping the remuneration.

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