People want to know how much it costs to have someone ghostwrite their memoir, proof and edit their book, guide them through writing a screenplay, and so forth. There isn’t a pat answer. The cost will vary depending on the project’s scope and timeline. You’ll usually be charged by the hour or a flat-fee for the project, although some charge by the word or page.
Ghostwriting rates (without royalty or credit) for non-celebrity books average $100 per hour, with a per project range of $15k up to $150k. I know that sounds like a huge range, but it is based on many factors, including the length of the book (number of words or pages). Some charge an average of $1 per word, so a 50,000 word book (approximately 200 pages) would be $50,000.
There may be extra fees for projects with an imminent deadline. Consultants based in metropolitan areas, e.g. Manhattan and Los Angeles, may charge more to cover their cost of living. Others charge more because of their pedigree, credentials, experience, or ego.
If the book needs to be written from scratch, it may require extensive research, interviews, or transcription. Or you may simply have an idea or concept with no outline, structure, or focus.
Never ask (or expect) a professional writer to work solely for down-the-road royalties. Sorry to break it to you, but you can’t guarantee (a) your book will be published; (b) people will buy it; or (c) it will make enough money. Some writers might agree to a reduced rate with the caveat that they also be guaranteed a percentage of the back end. I’m not one of those writers.
It’s important to be realistic about your goals for whatever your project may be. Everyone on the planet thinks that their story is interesting and needs to be told. But you have to be honest with yourself. Is there really an audience for it? Are you writing it just for yourself, or because you feel compelled to tell it? Are you writing it as a journal for your family and future generations? Are you writing it to make a difference on the planet? Are you writing it to be rich and famous?
Unless you’re already famous, memoirs need a “hook” in order for them to be of interest to anyone but you. Think about it this way. Would you buy a book about some stranger’s life story?
Another topic I’d like to mention is the issue of credit for the book. Up front, clarify whether this is a true “ghost” writing project where the ghostwriter’s name is not to be on the cover, or even acknowledged. Do you want to take full credit and pretend you wrote the book? If so, prepare to pay a higher price. Writers write for acknowledgment as well as income. Make sure you have a written agreement with your ghostwriter that clearly defines issues of copyright so there’s no dispute later. Decide whether your writer will be entirely anonymous, get included on your acknowledgment page, or actually share credit on the cover, such as “written with.”
No matter which way you go, be sure to give your writer a written testimonial when the project is finished.
Visit my What I Do page for a general introduction to my fees and services.