Ghost Writing is not all Fun and Games
I have been a ghost writer for over ten years now, on a steady basis. I mostly find I do a lot of editing, but editing always seems to involve writing and writing always seems to involve editing. So I don't always make a complete distinction between them - you really need to do both all the time in this profession. Meanwhile, I have many different projects coming in on a steady basis, about one or two per day.
It always amazes me, the different kinds of clients I seem to be attracting. My step-daughter just introduced me to a former Mr. USA winner, and he wants us to ghost write his biography. The family of a young man who committed suicide would like us to pen his memoir, and someone else wants us to write a fictionalized autobiography of a former drug user. You get all types in this business - sometimes sad ones.
I love it, though. The rewards for a ghost writer are endless, and don't involve just the great pay. In fact, I tend to charge lower than most ghost writers, as I always work within my clients' needs and budgets. So do many other ghost writers - and we always strive to find ways to stay within our clients’ budgets. The average ghost writing service probably does charge more than many people can afford, to offset their costs for running an agency. But I have to admit, many such services do charge the proverbial “arm and a leg” when it comes to ghost writing. I have heard horror stories about services charging the client $85,000 and paying the ghost writer only $5,000 to perform the actual work, for example.
Usually, however, it is a matter of “you get what you pay for,” so you don’t want to underpay your ghost writer either. You should look at it this way: your professional writer is going to work on your book for three months, so at say $5,000 per month that would be $15,000 total for the project. So $15,000-20,000 is a more than reasonable rate for writing a book, or even a script, unless your writer charges union scale wages for a screenplay, which are higher. I haven’t written any screenplays lately, but I do ghostwrite and copy edit books, so I know that you need to charge at least reasonable rates in order to complete book and screenplay projects.
I also have written over 100 commercial articles that have gotten over 100,000 views over time, on subjects such as ghost writing, health, fitness, and African American history. I like the fact that I can put my name on my own articles in most cases. The most name credit I usually get when I am the ghost writer or copy editor for a book is a brief blurb on the acknowledgments page. So it's nice to see people reading my work where they actually see my byline, although I really don't mind not having a byline normally - at least if people don't like my work, I don't hear them complaining!
Karen, thank you for being my guest this week! Please feel free to comment and ask Karen any questions you may have; she'll be hanging out with me until Friday!