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Ghostwriting Questions I Can’t (Or Won’t) Answer – Ask Anne

questions I can't answer about ghostwritingThis question turned up in response to: Ghostwriting – 8 Elements Of My Contracts or Letters of AgreementAlthough I was tempted, I’ve not corrected any of the mistakes; I have used only her initials even though her name was spelled out in her question.

Hi Ms. Ann,

I am an author I wrote my first book that was published this year January 2012. My friend just open his production company and introduce me to a young woman who wants me to write her story. Her book will eventually be a trilogy and they will make a movie out of it. I have never done ghostwriting before. This is my first job my question to you is what kind of contract or proposal do I give them both to sign? should I put a date when the book will be completed? How many people do I interview? and what should I charge for my work? Ms. Ann, they have such great confident in me, I do too. I want to make sure I do everything correct.

Thank you in advanced,



You don’t say where your book was published, in what language, or if it was self- or trade published. Those are important questions, I think, because your English is simply not up to par for an English-speaking market. If, however, your wrote your book in your native language, let me salute you for being almost fluent in written English as well… I only have one language.

That said, the contract or letter of agreement I use is pretty well spelled out in the article you commented on. And I’ve updated it a bit. Yes, an approximate date for the completion of the book should be included.

How the heck should I know?

But let me ask you these quesitons:

How in the world would I know how many people you should interview? You say the book is to be someone’s story. You’re the ghostwriter and as a writer, even if you’re really just getting started, it’s up to you to take that story and turn it into a book. Maybe you’ll do that through interviewing others about the woman, maybe not. No one else can give you a specific answer because we don’t know the subject. Even if we did, we wouldn’t do it the way you will do it.

Similarly, how should I know what you should charge? I don’t have any sense of what your credits are, where your writing or what the client might be willing to pay. There’s a whole section here on setting fees. That won’t tell you exactly what to charge either, but will give you an approach to setting fee that has worked for many.

You didn’t ask, but if you had I would have told you I have no idea what you should charge when the books are made into a movie. That’s something that, given a movie or video is already in the works, should be addressed.

I do remember how frustrating it was when I first started writing professionally.  I really wanted someone who had all the answers. Or even most of them.

As I figured my way through to success I also realized that no one has the answers for me. And the few who said they might, when they got specific, turned out to be wrong.

Freelance writing is not like going to a job where the pay is set and the duties mostly spelled out. While you can draw on support through websites like this one, and price ranges like those listed in Writer’s Market, or even from the advice you might get in something like the 5 Buck Forum, you still get to do it. And you get to learn from both your successes and your mistakes.

Talk with the client. Find out what they really want and if you think you can fill the bill, go for it, picking your own price, writing your own contract and generally stepping out and taking responsibility for your freelance writing business.

Got a question about freelance writing? Email me with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll probably answer it here.

What questions have you had to answer for yourself about freelance writing?


Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by Robb North

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • jorgekafkazar

    You’re a lot more patient than I would be, Anne. Don’t other languages besides English have punctuation? No?

    • LOL! I thought languages other than American Englished used punctuation too… most of ’em anyway.

  • jorgekafkazar


  • I love this post for one vitally important thing you said, Anne: “As I figured my way through to success I also realized that no one has the answers for me. And the few who said they might, when they got specific, turned out to be wrong.”

    I’m realizing that my own trial and error is probably my greatest asset in freelance writing. I like to read, read, read what others are recommending, try it and then tweak it to work for my own brand.

    Thanks so much for thought provoking my day. 🙂
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