How much do Ghostwriters charge?

How much do Ghostwriters charge?

If you are considering hiring a ghostwriter for the first time, one of the first things you’ll want to know is how much is it going to cost?. 

While there is no definitive answer to your question (because how long is a piece of string?) I will provide an indication of the range out there in the marketplace. I’ll also explain some of the determining factors so you will at least have a ballpark in mind before you approach a professional ghostwriter whether that’s here or elsewhere. 

Here is what the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) say about current rates of pay.

“The problem is that every book is so different and word count is not the only determining factor. On the most basic level, the ghostwriter must estimate the time it will take to write the book. This will depend on how much material the “commissioner” has provided, the level of additional research required, further interviews to be conducted, the length of the planned book and any photo research that might be necessary.

“If, for example, you arrive at 4-6 months (full-time) to complete the first draft, then the commissioner will need to be aware that the ghostwriter will not be working on any other projects during that time and will expect to be paid the equivalent of a full time salary over those 4-6 months.

“Another factor to consider in addition to time, is the level of experience the ghostwriter has.

“So let’s say you are engaging a professional mid-weight ghostwriter with an average salary of $60, 000 (AUD) per year and the project in hand is going to take 6 months full-time, then you need to be thinking around the $30/$35K mark for your budget for a ghostwriter to write your book.”

I should say, this is just one way of approaching price but it’s one the ASA recommends.

It goes without saying, you need to do your research and decide how much help you’ll actually need to write your book and how much of an investment you wish to make.  The ASA’s approach at least provides an indication of where a conversation about rates may begin with any given ghostwriter. Other ghostwriters may charge on word count or page count and/or hourly rates. All of which are perfectly legitimate ways to arrive at the price.  

If you want a professional who understands copyright laws, rules of genre, the nuances of language, someone who can guide you through the publishing process or put you in touch with editors or even provide marketing services then naturally you will expect to pay for that expertise. If, however, you just need someone to transcribe all your notes and offer no professional input whatsoever, then perhaps save your money and hire a hobby writer, a student or trusted friend to do this for you. Obviously these are vastly different scenarios but this will help you work out where you stand in terms of whether or not you need a ghostwriter or perhaps someone to act as a transcriber.

In summary

As you’ve probably gathered by now, there is potential for vast variation in the marketplace for professional ghostwriting, but here is a further indication on price range and the factors those prices may take into account.  These prices do not include royalties/attribution etc which are negotiated separately. Prices are in Australian Dollars:

  • $15,000 to $30,000 – short 4-6 month long projects (or) simple project
    (or) hobby/novice – junior writer
  • $30,000 to $65,000 – 6-12 month long projects (or) mid weight writer (or) short project with a range of additional requirements
  • $65,000 to $130,000 -12-18 months (or) senior writer (or)complex project with a range additional requirements
  • $130,000+ $200,000– celebrity ghostwriter

No-one would dispute that $15,000 – $200,000 is a huge range which explains why it’s so difficult to find accurate and up-to-date information on the internet – particularly for the Australian market. If nothing else, all this does is help get your head in the space it needs to be in terms of budget before you consider hiring a ghostwriter. 

Whatever level of budget you/your ghostwriter arrives at will be written in to a Ghostwriting Agreement before work commences. Within this agreement payment terms such as monthly installments, milestones, levels of attribution, royalties and copyright ownership will all need to be properly addressed too.