I’ve compiled material for a book about the economic system for laypeople who consider economics to be a difficult and boring subject.

The book describes economic concepts in easy to understand terms. I believe the book is unique partly because it doesn’t focus too much on economic principles but rather examines the historical developments and political issues that have shaped the economic system into a system that benefits the few and does little for the mass of people.

I have written over 350 pages, (using Times Roman 12 point font).

I believe the book has a reasonable organizational structure and interesting content.

However, a lot of the material needs to be rewritten, edited, some material needs to be discarded, other material needs to be added, some material needs to be reorganized, etc.

So a lot of work still needs to be done.

Unfortunately, I’m not a writer and I don’t have strong writing skills.

To make matters worse, I’m suffering from neurological issues that have limited my ability to focus and work.

So I need help in finishing the project.

I placed an ad on Craigslist seeking a Co-author. I mentioned in my ad that I couldn’t pay the co-author but that I would gladly give him or her 50% of the profits, i.e., if the book made any profits. However, I didn’t receive any response to my ad, which is understandable since most people are looking for paid employment.

I therefore placed another ad on Craigslist stating that I was willing to pay $15 per hour for 80 hours of work. Although I would like to find someone who can review and rewrite the entire book, since I have been out of work for over 5 years – due to neurological issues – I don’t have the funds to do that. I therefore figured I could possibly find someone who could review and rewrite only certain, limited sections of the book.

I don’t know if my strategy will work, but my plan is to give the writer 80 hours of work now, see how this person does, and then give the writer another 80 hours of work later. After that, I will have to finalize everything on my own since I don’t have a budget to seek any further assistance.

In response to my recent ad on Craigslist, I’ve received about 20 resumes from people who have expressed an interest in helping me.

I would like to ask for your kind help regarding the following issues.

  1. How can I ensure that the writer who works with me does not use some of my material and publishes it on his own?

Would I have to sign some sort of contract with him specifically addressing this issue?

If so, is there a sample contract that I can find on some website or reference book that I can use for this purpose?

  1. If I’m able to eventually find a publisher for the book, would they have a writer on staff who could help with the writing?

At this time, I need someone’s help to finish the book and rewrite portions of it so that it will be in an acceptable form so that a publisher would be willing to consider it.

But since I lack strong writing skills and the writer I hire won’t be able to rewrite many sections of the book due to my limited budget, I think I will need someone else to review the material and improve it.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could kindly provide me with any guidance, advice and assistance.

  • 2
    I hope that you will forgive me for saying so, but it sounds very like you are trying to do something very capitalistic here: hiring someone at low wages to help you bring a product to market while ensuring that you get to keep all the property created. A good editor is worth much more than you are proposing to pay. Since this is an ideological polemic you are creating, perhaps you should look for a collaborator with similar ideological passions and offer them co-authorship. Craigslist it probably not the place to look for ideological fellow travellers, however. Maybe a local campus newspaper?
    – user16226
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 18:49
  • 3
    What you may be looking for is not a co-author but a ghostwriter. Such services do exist and those writers work with contracts which would protect your IP. As a general statement, however, there is very little to do with writing or editing which you can get done for $15 an hour which is going to be of professional quality. Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 9:35
  • Thanks Lauren for your kind help. It’s good to know that ghostwriters are available. It doesn’t surprise me that it’s hard to get quality work done at $15 per hour. I’ll try to offer a bit more in the hope that I can get better qualified candidates. Thanks again for your feedback. Tom
    – Tom1955
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 23:21
  • Thank you so much Monica for editing my post! The title you used is much better than the title I had. And after your edits, the writing is a lot clearer and easier to read. Thank you once again for your kind help!
    – Tom1955
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 23:22

1 Answer 1


I run a small publishing company and have done all aspects of the book production process. I have edited academic manuscripts as well.

It can be hard to interest an editor in payment by royalties for reasons you have mentioned. I often try a combination of an advance/lump sum payment with a royalty cut, but these rarely result in the collaborator making any royalties from it. It might help though if you can demonstrate to the editor that you have a reasonable expectation of getting it published with an academic publisher.

Most editors are honest and respect intellectual property. It's unlikely that they will try to publish it on their own -- but see note below. You should give them some credit somehow. You shouldn't need to require a NDA, but you should ask them to sign some sort of statement confirming copyright ownership. (It doesn't need to be fancy).

Occasionally I have prepared a STATEMENT OF WORK for an editing project like this. Two terms I include might pertain to you: 1) The editor and author share ownership of copyright during the editing process, and it doesn't transfer entirely to author until payment has been made in full and 2)I usually require either 1/3 or 1/2 of payment in advance.

You should know about market rates: http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php and https://www.thebalance.com/freelance-writing-rates-list-1360334 (This rates might be high depending on the region you are in).

I don't think 15$ is insulting (especially if you include some royalty sharing), but it probably is a little low for the task you want done. $22-25 is probably closer, maybe $20. The bigger issue is that it's somewhat hard to estimate the amount of labor involved until you actually do it. Even a good editor may estimate wrongly -- and I don't think it necessarily reflects badly on the editor if this happens. It's possible for an editor to lowball the time estimate by 20-30% -- sometimes more.

I totally understand your desire to keep editing costs capped at some amount (and purely from an investment perspective, it minimizes your risk). It might help to hire someone to do a portion of the book (as you indicate), so you can see how well you work together and can judge if it's worth the investment of cash. Most editors work fairly quickly; the time-consuming part is often making author queries and having phone calls about certain passages.

I have nothing against Craigs List -- I check it frequently. You might want to check this Reddit board for hiring editors. https://www.reddit.com/r/HireAnEditor/

You also might try posting your proposal on a site like guru.com (where a lot of serious editors can be found).

Finally, if you don't find anybody, feel free to contact me (using my SE profile). There are lots of good editors out there, and I wouldn't assume that more expensive is necessarily better. Good luck!

  • Thank you Programmer! Offering an advance/lump sum payment and a royalty cut sounds like a great idea that would help attract better qualified candidates for the project. Your advice about preparing a Statement of Work makes sense. It’s great to know that there are several websites for finding writers & editors. I greatly appreciate your allowing me to contact you via your SE profile. That’s very kind and thoughtful of you. I will let you know if I can’t find someone to help you. Your thoughts and guidance have been truly valuable.
    – Tom1955
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 23:32

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