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How Do I Price Ghostwriting A Book?

Dear Anne,

I came across your site while researching information on the process of ghostwriting. I am going to write a book for a friend of mine, but I’ve never done it before and I had a few basic questions about compensation and methods.

What is the typical compensation arrangement? I’ve seen several sites that discuss compensation, but there doesn’t seem to be any consensus on dollar amounts or percentages for advances or royalty arrangements. Do you have any thoughts on that?

I was thinking that the best way to approach the book is to have my friend (the author) give me recordings of his thoughts and write from those.

I would really appreciate any advice you may have for a novice.

Thank you,


Hi TM, 

Ghostwriting a book is a big big project. Writing a book for a friend is fraught with potential difficulties. I’d first suggest you think long and hard about your relationship before you agree to do the work.

As I’ve said before, for ghostwriting a book or any other writing project for that matter, there really is no typical compensation. I base my ghostwriting fees on my hourly rate. If the author already has a publisher I also negotiate a portion of the advance and all royalties – somewhere between five- and 50 percent. I might reduce my hourly slightly for that percentage, but not much. Even with a publisher books often don’t earn out their advances and I want to be paid for what I do.

I insist on a written contract. If I were writing for a friend I’d make doubly sure we each understood the contract – if we don’t, the project could break up the friendship.

I usually interview over the phone and record that. I also take notes. If we need to get the recording transcribed the author pays for that, not me.

I first help them develop the purpose for their book, then their working table of contents and then we interview to that.

Once these elements are in place it’s really a matter of writing, rewriting and editing – and getting the author to do the reading and editing they need to do to help me get the writing right.

Do you have a question about freelance writing? Contact me and I’ll do my best to answer it.

What’s been your experience working for a friend?


Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by striatic


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