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I'm preparing to put together a proposal for a client in order for me to ghostwrite a biography for him. I've written (and published) a few books and screenplays of my own, as well as conducted many interviews, transcribed audio, and developed articles and other narratives from them. I have some light ghostwriting experience as well as done quite a bit of editing for various clients.

I'm trying to determine a rate that is fair for both myself and the client, so based on the following, what would you charge?

  1. I expect the project to be in the neighborhood of 80-90K words. I can write at least 2K+ words per day, if not much more-- depending on momentum. I think it will take me about 2 months to complete the first draft.

  2. The project will probably involve some travel, as he'd like to meet in person for the interviews. I'm in Los Angeles and he's in San Diego, which is about 2 hours away in decent traffic.

  3. I will more than likely have to do my own transcription and assume that this will take a month or so.

  4. Some of the content for this project may be a bit complicated (he's a scientist). I'm pretty confident in my skills and abilities to handle the work, as I've worked with complex material before but this may take a bit of extra time for occasional research.

  5. I estimate that the interviewing, transcribing, and writing processes will take 3 or 4 months, and another 2 months for editing, making the whole project about 6 months long (I've given myself a little cushion in there-- just in case).

  6. I know that he's a very busy man and may not always be easy to reach when needed.

I'd really like to get a sense of what other writers would charge in these circumstances so I can get an idea of what's right for myself. I don't want to go below $30/hr, but don't know if it's fair for me to charge $50/hr or more. When I get a good idea of a fair hourly rate, I'll then be able to determine a flat rate that can be broken into monthly payments or into 3 or 4 installments.

How would you charge?

  • I'm not familiar with this site, but asking "YOU" seems to ask for opinions. I think it also depends on what you need, where you live, what you could get and so on, which would it make very broad? – bummi Nov 20 '17 at 15:03
  • That's true. I only signed up for this site last night and wrote this questions before I read the guidelines. Unfortunately, I still need help and the opinions of other writers are incredibly valuable. And as I mentioned above, I'm in LA and the potential client is in San Diego. I believe I could get the above rate ($40-50/hr), but I think my biggest obstacle is always that I'm afraid that if I ask what I want, I'll scare the client off. – HawkWriter Nov 20 '17 at 19:52
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    What would you charge is not asking for opinions. People know what they charge and can tell you objectively if they choose to. But your actual question is "What is the going rate to charge for this type of work." Fair, by the way, is a meaningless term in this. You are looking for the market rate. You should charge the highest rate you can negotiate. The trick is to get as high a rate as you can without losing the job to a lower bidder. – user16226 Nov 25 '17 at 18:15
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Always ask for what you want. If you are confident in your skills and your portfolio backs up your work, people will not have an issue with giving you that money. Just like with any job interview, you always ask high and then negotiate down to what you actually want.

If you start with what you want, you will get that at most. There is no issue with at the least asking for what you want though. If someone wants quality work, they will need to spend more or hope they get someone who doesn't know their own value. You also have to figure that most of these guys who submit the stories will see a fairly large return on profit or else they wouldn't be willing to hire a ghostwriter in the first place. What may seem like a lot to you, may even be LESS than what they expected or budgeted. This is why it's always best to start high so you don't sell yourself short on a nice contract.

They may have budgeted 70 dollars an hour and you could be cutting yourself 20-30 dollars less. Or it may turn out that they want to higher someone for 30. At that point, you have to figure out if you are willing to work for less than asking or see if they are willing to up it to 40 on the basis that they projected 1000 hours of working time and you can do it in 600. So for the cut in hours, they may be willing to increase the hourly.

All in all, it never hurts to ask for what you want at the very least. Serious people will be willing to negotiate with you especially if they believe you are the right person. Just remember your own value and your own needs and don't settle for less than minimum of that.

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  • Thank you for that, ggiaquin. It helps to get encouragement from other writers. I really seem to struggle with asking what I'm worth. I always feel guilty even though I know I'm a strong writer. I appreciate your support! – HawkWriter Nov 23 '17 at 3:42

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