I'm a professional writer, but I've never written a memoir. I've been asked to submit a proposal to ghostwrite a memoir. The person whose memoir I would write knows I've not written a memoir before, but knows I am a journalist by training and [now] a marketing writer by practice—including much storytelling in the nonprofit sector for direct marketing fundraising.

What is a fair rate/price to charge?

  • Welcome to writing.se! I see you have taken the tour you can also check out the help center or Writing Meta to learn more about the site. This is a good first question. It might help answers if you include some more details such as your location, relative experience level and how much work your think this memoir will take to write. Good luck and happy writing!
    – linksassin
    Oct 7 '19 at 4:24

Most writers (though check yourself for variance) can comfortably write about 500 words an hour. If one adds in research, edits and revisions; your effective words-per-hour would end up at about 80-120 depending.

This allows you to take a target hourly rate and convert it to cost per word. What a fair hourly rate is depends on your experience, location, and the specific demands of your client. As this swings very wildly, this would have to come down to your own discretion.

Prices of $0.30-$0.50 per word are relatively common, and for professional ghostwriters (who sometimes charge a premium to commit to strict NDAs) prices of even $2 or $3 per word are not unheard of.

The main thing to keep in mind is that as you are doing work for hire, you are generally not included in any royalty schemes. Therefore, pricing should be at least equal to--if not significantly higher than--an advance for similar work.


It's not a job you can price in a standard way. I was paid around $10,000 to ghost the auto-bio of a recording artist. Because people knew what she 'sounded' like I spent a lot of time interviewing her as well watching her Youtube clips.

My neighbour is interesting. He's a Tunisian Muslim married to a hot-lookin' blonde bombshell of a Lithuanian woman. They have no money but they're in love. I'm intrigued. I'd write their story for a percentage if they provided fuel by way of alcohol while I was working.

To write Trump's memoirs I'd require somewhere between $10 and $15 million.

The capitalist's answer is - as much as you can get. The memoirs of a non-celebrity are virtually worthless. Cousin Bob's uncle's story is unlikely to be mainstream published and will only sell 7 copies on Kindle.

It's a valid industry. The aged, those questioning their mortality want their existence, their achievements recorded for prosperity, l'est they depart from this Earth unnoticed, without leaving a mark. Memoirs are not normally subject to profit considerations - the subject is likely to die before any financial gain is realised. It's a personal negotiation: How much do you want to write this story vs how much does the subject want the story to be told.

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