What Does a Ghostwriter Typically Charge?

How Does it Work?

Ghostwriters are providing a service.
And they’re usually not going to get any credit for that service either.

It’s in the name “ghostwriting service.” A professional ghostwriting company requires cash to come in to keep the operation going. If there was no income for this, it’d be a glorified hobby.

While I like helping people, unfortunately, I can’t do it for free.
So how do ghostwriter’s stay in business if they’re going to write for clients and get no byline credit for it?
Well, they have to charge the client for the work.
I always charge on a per-project basis.
I’ve tried charging by the word or by the page, but those projects never panned out, so I’m sticking with what has worked.
To charge by the project, I’ll start with a free consultation. I talk with the client about what they want, deadlines, available material, research, etc.
This free consultation, which lasts about thirty minutes, is to get an idea of the full scope of the project. Determining the full extent of the project will help avoid “scope creep” and other common issues. Now, not every problem is avoidable, but with a little foresight, we can save ourselves some headache.
I then estimate how long the project will take and break it down from there. That’s how I come up with the project fee.
I don’t demand the full fee upfront, or half now and half later.
I do in payments.
Usually, my projects run six, eight, or sometimes even twelve months long. So I charge by the month with payment due on the first of the month. Once I get that first payment, work begins.
For example; say I consult with the client, you, and I determine I’ll need about six months to complete a project that has some interviewing, transcribing, and research involved. That’s going to take a lot of time, and if I’m to commit my energy and resources to it, I won’t be able to do other work. Since it’s technically freelance, I’ll be paying taxes on it out of my pocket.
These factors must be considered for every project.
I’ll ballpark it around $30,000. That comes out to $5,000 a month.
I do it this way to ensure the client doesn’t have to pay it all at once or in batches and to ensure there’s money coming in over the life of the project.
I understand that this may be a sticky situation for some and I’ve had potential clients walk away at this point before. Though that hurts, I have to let them go because I can’t afford to work for sub-average fees. I have children to take care of, a mortgage, car, and other living expenses.
While I do love ghostwriting, and helping people tell stories, I can’t do it for free or for payment later on.
Maybe in the future I can take on some pro-bono clients, but not at the time I’m writing this.

Listen to the Chirp I recorded on this topic.

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Why do I Ghostwrite?

A Good Question…

I enjoy writing books.
But why would I want to help others write books and not get credit for it? Why set up ghostwriting services and a professional ghostwriting company to write for others?
The short answer is I have a strong desire to help people.
And I like to write.
Ghostwriting is a natural intersection of those two ideals.
The long answer is…well, a little longer.
From a young age, my parents instilled in me a sense of duty to help out. I was to help with chores, cleaning up, and helping out in any other way that I could. Honestly, I think part of it was my parents were so tired from their day jobs and raising three kids that convincing us “helping out” was the way we should act so they’d get a little bit of a break at home.
The damage is done, however. I’m okay with that.
It was this mindset that led me to help out at my church growing up, my extended family, and the kind lady down the street.
The concept of being a servant hit home when I was on a mission trip in college. I was a sophomore when Hurricane’s Katrina and Rita devastated the gulf coast. New Orleans was the worst hit and those who were alive at the time recall hearing about the chaos that ensued there.
This mission trip I joined didn’t go to New Orleans, but Port Neches, Texas. This little city cat right on the coast and was home to oil refineries. It dodged Katrina but Rita went right next to it, and the small city was struggling to recover when my group showed up a few weeks later.
Being a college student, I was tasked with grunt work- whatever needed to be done, do it!
So we set about clearing out debris.
We joined a local church who would send out work crews to homes. The city had a long list of residences that were destroyed and needed to be cleaned up before people could move back in. So we start the day with a list of addresses and try to reach each one before the end of the day.
One of these houses was a small home.
The homeowner wasn’t there, but that wasn’t unusual. We just got to work the moment we rolled up.
About halfway through this particular address, the homeowner came home. She drove an old model Volvo that looked like it’d seen better years.
I didn’t say anything and just kept working, carting out branches and junk that had landed her yard.
I saw her talk to the leader of our group. I couldn’t hear what was said, but she went back to her car, reached under her glove box and pulled out a wad of cash. She offered him some of it, but he wouldn’t take it.
At that point, she started crying.
Knowing the simple job of cleaning someone’s yard can have a profound impact on someone is why I want to help people; you never know just how bad their situation is, what they’re dealing with at the time. A kind gesture can go a long way.
I also like to tell stories. And listen to stories.
I grew up watching a lot of movies and TV shows. I can quote a lot of lines from action movies that were popular growing up.
This skill is excellent for trivia games, but not for making friends.
Anyway, I would love to sit and listen to my grandparents tell stories. In doing so, I’d want to share stories of my own. When I was older and regaled my grandpa with a story once, he smiled at me and told me I should be a writer, because I’m a good story-teller.
It took years for that advice to sink in.
But when I did, I started writing.
My wife also got tired of me constantly complaining about “bad movies.” So she bought me a book on writing and told me to write a better story.
A few years later I had two full-length book manuscripts completed.
But no literary agent would represent them.
I self-published them.
No marketing, nothing.
And wouldn’t you know it…nothing happened.
I think I earned $30 in royalties from them so far.
Instead of giving up, however, I wanted to know what it would take to make it as a successful author.
When I learned that not everyone likes to write, I decided I could do that for them. It would be helping people and allowing me to do something I enjoy too.
Then I found out about ghostwriting, where you write a book for someone.
And then they’ll pay you to do it!
Can it get any better?
I submit that it cannot!
Stephen King mentions in his memoir On Writing that art is a support system for life.
Writing books, reading books, telling stories, it’s an art. The type of art that helps people who are struggling. It’s worked for me, so why not do it for other people?
And stories have helped launch massive change in history too.

So that’s why I ghostwrite.

And here’s the Chirp I recorded about this topic.

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Traditional or Self-Publishing?

So Many Choices

A big question that every author encounters, and even the would-be authors who haven’t written a word yet, is which route is better?
Traditional or Self-Publishing?
The real question you need to be asking yourself is “How much control do I really want over my project?”
For those who are okay with giving up some control and getting someone else to handle the details of publishing, they go the traditional route.
For those who don’t want anyone to mess with their project at all, they go the self-publishing route.
The traditional route is a little longer with more hoops to jump through. But once you’re in, you’ll find it has its perks.
The self-publishing route can be done faster, with you calling every shot. You’ll have to pay for the necessary services yourself and handle the legwork involved.
Let’s look at each one.

Traditional Publishing
There’s a certain amount of credibility that comes with getting your literary agent and having a publishing company sign you. They see potential in you, they like the book you’ve written, and they’re willing to put their brand behind your book.
It does wonders for your ego.
You’ll also have your book put into their distribution and wholesale supply chains. You’ll find it on the bookshelves of major retailers and outlets.
Many publishing contracts also have the caveat that they’ll get first look at your next book. Meaning, you write a second book that’s in the same genre as the first, and you’ll have less trouble finding representation. It’s a sweet deal.

You’ll have to figure out how to query, how they want the query formatted and then, if they do show interest in your work, you still have to wait while the literary agent shops your book around to publishers looking for a decent deal.
If they do find one, then the publisher takes over the creative side of the project. You may have a clause in your contract that stipulates you have creative control, but for first-time authors, this is rarely the case. The book cover, interior design, and back matter may not be to your liking. But the publisher will be the one in control of it, so tough luck.

You’re in control!
You get to decide on the interior design, cover art, back matter, eBook distribution, print copies, etc.
All of it!
The book will look exactly how you decide it will look and you’ll have complete control over the editing and final draft approval.

You’ll have to pay for all of it.
You’ll need to find a reputable self-publishing service that won’t rip you off, as well as deliver the product up to your specifications. And they’ll be charging you for it.
Then there’s the fact that you still have to market the book yourself. Again, you’ll have to have a marketing plan, and it’s up to you to cover every dime of those expenses.

Both paths have their perks and downsides. It’s up to you to decide which one is best for you and your book. Your ghostwriter will help you along the way in determining what’s right, but if it’s a good ghostwriter, they’ll respect your decision either way. This is an important point when it comes to picking your ghostwriting service or a ghostwriting company. Professional ghostwriters will respect your choice!
Keep in mind that this post isn’t meant to deter anyone from publishing their book. On the contrary, this is to encourage you to move forward with this vital step. Because if you’re informed, you’re going to make a better decision.
The hyperlinks above are for the Chirps I recorded on the topic. Listen to them all for more information.
And then get to writing!

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THE Best Writing Advice

So You Want to be a Writer?

If you want to write better, find your voice, your writing style…
You don’t need to take a class.
Sure, taking a class has benefits, but you will find it taking up your time and money.
There’s a better way.
You can also get a degree. Spend a year or two or three working to write a dissertation, researching, discussing writing, and all of that stuff.
Yet, there is also a better way.
Just read.
Read the author’s that you like to read.
Reading their work, and reading a lot of it, will begin to bleed into your own subconscious. You’ll start describing ideas, scenes, feelings in the same style and manner as the author. Don’t worry; this doesn’t mean you’ll sound exactly like them. You may seem similar, but if you’re trying to find your own voice, their writing style is an excellent place to start.
And if you do decide to copy their writing style, you’ll come off disingenuous and lack conviction. I find this happens with clients who want to “sound like (author’s name).” As a ghostwriting service, I would be doing a disservice to these clients by working to make them sound exactly like another author.

The same can be said for you as an author. Even if you’re not utilizing a ghostwriting company or ghostwriter services, you will still need to find your own voice. By copying someone else’s word choice, syntax, cadence, style, and tone, you’ll end up lacking conviction.
You won’t be a bad writer; you’ll just be unoriginal.
In many ways, that’s worse.

But do read their stuff.
You can still take a class and get a degree, but the books are lessons, experience, and diplomas all on their own. You’re investing your time to study them. Even reading is research. While you may not be consciously in “research” mode, your mind is cataloging the words. It’ll hold onto them for when you sit down in front of your laptop and start putting words onto the screen.
When it’s an author you like and enjoy, you’re more likely to remember it.
Hence, why I stick with Stephen King, Ruth Ware, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Gillian Flynn, Dennis Lehane, JK Rowling, Jim Butcher, JRR Tolkein, and others when it comes to fiction. On the non-fiction side; there are the Heath Brothers, Malcolm Gladwell, and Michael Lewis. Great authors, all of them.
Since I enjoy their work and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up a book with their name on the cover, I’m more likely to absorb what they write, how they write it, and what it means to me.
I’ll push myself from time to time with a new author, or someone who’s been suggested to me.
There are lines, however.
While they are great authors, I just can’t bear the thought of reading Leo Tolstoy or Fyodor Dostoevsky. Not because they’re Russian. It’s because I’ve seen one of their books and it’s a door stopper.
I’ve read large books before and not batted an eye; Lord of the Rings and The Stand for example.
But the uber-dense nature of those other books, not to mention it’s on subjects I’m not particularly interested in, creates this feeling of exhaustion within me. And maybe it’s because my dad and my wife have prodded me to read them?
Not that I don’t take their suggestions when it comes to reading. It’s a fact, as I’ve said before, the size of the books are considerable, and the subject matter within doesn’t grab me.
Does this mean I’ll be a lousy writer?
If I stop reading, yes, yes, I will be a bad writer.
If I don’t read books that could stop a door, then I just won’t be one of those writers.
…oh darn.
I’ll survive somehow.
But when it comes to you and your writing journey, pick your authors how you want to. If you find you like Tolstoy, then bless you both in your literary happiness.
If you find that you don’t have a favorite author, then go to your library, bookstore, or Amazon, and start picking out books that appeal to you.
Read them all.
If you don’t like them, donate them (if you bought them) to the local Goodwill, or send them back to the library.
And then go look for more books!
What better excuse do you need to read?
…Okay, reading for the joy of it would be a better reason. But still, reading to find your writing voice would be high up there.
Therefore, you must get out there and start reading. Or pick up that book that you stopped halfway and didn’t complete yet.
And don’t forget to write while you’re at it.

For more tips and suggestions, visit https://www.weckerlywriter.com/podcasts.html

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Ashy Elbows

Looks Matter

I’ll admit, I do like to look nice.
But there’s a limit to how far I will go.
The current “standard” of male-attractiveness aside, I know what I like to wear, what I’m comfortable in, and what I feel makes me look good. Sure, there are the days when I could care less what I look like. On those days it’ll be obvious; my hair will be unkempt, my beard wild, and my clothes will be well-worn and mismatched.
On days when I do care, I hope it’s just as obvious.
Not so with a manuscript.
Manuscripts need to sparkle.
By sparkle, I mean they are free of any obvious defect.
No spelling errors, grammatical errors, and the entire manuscript must adhere to the current edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.
It will seem odd that I care so much about the appearance of a manuscript and yet so little about my own. There is a reason for this…
I once saw a young man apply water to his elbows.
Granted, it was his water, and he’s free to apply it to his person in any way that he pleases. Yet, this is San Antonio. It’s hot. It’s humid. When you’re working outside, you want to stay hydrated which is why I’d handed him a water bottle in the first place.
He opened it as I had done, and took a sip. I didn’t sip mine. I chugged it because I was thirsty.
He instead poured a little into his hand and applied it to his elbow.
Then he did the same with the other elbow.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I got ashy elbows,” he said, “can’t let the ladies see that.”
…ashy elbows?
I’ve never had that level of concern for my appearance.
Then again, I’ve never met a woman or a man who deemed it necessary to pay attention to the quality of one’s elbows.
True, when my wife and I were dating, I was of the mind that a baseball cap and a t-shirt would suffice. I was a poor college student, so fine threads were a rarity. There’s also the issue of controlling my hair. Even though I’m losing it, steadily, I have yet to determine what to do with it. What style really works for me?
To solve this issue in college, I just wore a baseball cap.
My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, informed me that my sense of style was monotonous.
She actually used the word “monotonous.”
And yet, despite my lack of style, we continued to date, transitioning to engagement, marriage, and now we have two beautiful children.
Not once was she concerned about my elbows.
If she had been, then I would have been better off leaving her out of my life.
Luckily, she is not that kind of person; the kind of person who is hypercritical of the smallest detail. Those kinds of people, for whatever reason, are looking for a mistake.
I’ll admit it; there are times when I’m in that mood, and I want to tear something apart because of a minor defect.
But I’ve been trained, as a certified ghostwriter running a professional ghostwriting service, to always look for the gold.
Besides, there are plenty of people out there looking for a reason to NOT like something. And when it comes to your manuscript, there are many things, both large and small, that can be easy targets.
That is why, in this one instance, I would advise you to take care of your ashy elbows; the ashy elbows of your manuscript.
When you’ve begun the editing process, and not before, take a hard look at your spelling, grammar, and formatting. The Chicago Manual of Style is the current standard of the publishing industry. If you’re not looking for traditional publishing, you should still keep this in mind when editing your manuscript.
Your manuscript, whether it’s going to a literary agent or a self-publishing service, needs to shine. So reread it ten, twenty, thirty times and check for any mistakes. Then send it through Grammarly. After that, give it an editor, a trained editor, to read over and double check. Even if you can’t afford one, find a friend who’s willing to read and give honest feedback.
Your manuscript, your story, is something you’ve been working on for quite some time. I understand that you want to remain authentic, and thus, leave your manuscript as original as possible. A good editor and proofreader will respect that and work with you.
A good ghostwriter will too.
Running a ghostwriting service, you can even call it a ghostwriting company, I want to keep it as close to the original as possible as well. And I have to balance that against keeping it readable, accessible, and engaging to the trade audience.
It’s not going to be easy, but why would I be doing this if it were easy?
When it comes to your appearance, don’t worry about your elbows.
When it comes to your manuscript, yes, please worry about your elbows!
And when you look for ghostwriter services, even if it’s not me, please make sure the ghostwriter is going to take care of your ashy elbows without destroying your manuscript. It’s a delicate process that involves trust. But if the ghost is not willing to let you have the final say with your manuscript, then don’t let them work on it.

They’ll focus too much on your ashy elbows.

For more suggestions and tips, check out my podcasts page.

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New Website, and other adventures

Welcome to the new Weckerly Writer website.

My old website was hosted by a cheapo service that was good enough to get the job done. I could create a site and manipulate it easily, but the traffic to it was terrible. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting the numbers that I should be getting.

Naturally, I reached out to the customer service number and explained my position.

The response I got was, basically, “It’s your SEO.”

I would have believes that except I’d had a third-party check it out and the report was that the SEO was solid.

I return to customer service and explain my position, and ask for a website diagnostic from them. The reply was that they don’t do that. But feel free to check out their many and abundant resources on SEO.

I sensed a theme here; their customer service was inadequate and their answer to every problem was to throw SEO at it.

Website traffic was done? Check into the SEO.

Getting an error message when loading a page? It has to be the SEO.

Skin a little flaky? Put SEO on it and it will be positively radiant.

Usually, I’m the sort of person who will want to abuse customer service reps. I worked in the food service for some time and I knew exactly what happens to people who are rude and argumentative in those situations; they may get what they want, but it won’t be sanitary. As gross as that sounds, just remember that the person you straight dissed has access to your food and if you can’t seem to show basic respect for their status as a human being, you get food of questionable quality.

With this is mind, I didn’t unleash a tirade on the unsuspecting person who read the support emails.

Instead, I took the sage advice of Derek Lewis and just started a new website.

And here we are.

As I work to build up my ghostwriting company, and ghostwriting services, the site will improve. In the meantime, you can contact me through email at kylewweckerly [at] gmail [dot] com, on LinkedIn, or by phone at 210-816-2441.

In the meantime, get to writing!