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Some ghostwriters list their ghostwriting fees on their website. Some do not. Which practice is best?

Should I List Fees on My Website?

by Joey on July 30, 2010

Post image for Should I List Fees on My Website?

At this moment, you either have your fees on your website or you don’t. If you don’t, it’s probably because you follow the line of reasoning I’ve always used: If I tell people what I charge, or even give them a range, they might see it – balk – and walk away. ‘Course, the flip side is you meet with them, talk on the phone, email back and forth, educate them and get all those questions you need answered first and then give them your project fee. Their typical reaction?

Sticker shock.

How is that any different than if  they’d seen your fees on your website?

Keep it Real

That’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to get my fees out in the open. Besides, if I was talking to someone in person and they said, “So what do you charge to ghostwrite a book?” I’d say, “It depends on the size of the project, the expected turn-a-round time, how much research is necessary, how available the client is, whether or not they’ve written any portion of the book, etc. When all that is said and done, I charge between $20,000 and $45,000″.

So that’s it then. The end of my post.

Not so fast.

Just because I decided to put my fees on the site, doesn’t mean I’ve decided how I want to put them there.

How do others ghosts handle fees on their websites? As a whole, not very well.

No name. No face.

Pick a state. Google that state with the words, “ghostwriter” and almost every company link on page one is a collective  of ghostwriters of some sort.  One site, California-based, The Author’s Team, handles it like so:

“Our prices vary widely depending on the parameters of your project and the qualifications of the writer you hire. In general, however, you can expect to pay somewhere between $30-$45,000 for a complete manuscript. A few of our best writers, who have created New York Times bestsellers or worked for prestigious publications like The Wall Street Journal, cost $30,000 – $50,000.”

You’ll find price qualifications like this on the vast majority of ghostwriting collective websites. (By ‘collective’ I mean a company that employs more than one ghostwriter). What you don’t find on most of these sites is the one thing I want to see when someone quotes ghostwriting  in that range:  names, faces, bios. In a word: evidence. The Author’s Team has  a short, one sentence bio for each of the three names in their collective.  If you want more evidence, you have to fish on the Internet for info about them because it’s not on their website.

On the other hand, whoever wrote the copy for the site sure sounds like he/she knows what they’re doing.

And So?

After years of resisting, I was finally going to put my prices on my website. I just needed to know how I was going to go about it. But darned it all,  I’m already having second thoughts. I’m fairly convinced there’s not a clear do it/don’t do it  choice when it comes to putting  fees on a ghostwriter’s website.

Tennis Anyone?

Their are pro’s and con’s to either option. It’s crazy how many ways there are to look at this dilemma.

On-line:  Post your fees between say, $20,000 to $40,000 and some people may never contact you because you’re out of their range.  That’s good because you’d filter out the curious, but broke and the ready-to-go, but expecting to pay Craigslist prices. Bad, because there are half a dozen reasons you’d make an exception.

Off-line: Don’t post your fees and you can pretty much guarantee x% of your time meeting, talking, emailing potential clients is meeting, talking, emailing people who’ve not done their homework before they approached you. On the other hand, not posting fees is what companies with high-end products do, right? It’s not like Mercedes of Tiffany list their highest price range online. Why? ’cause people know the range is going to be high. They also know they’re getting the best available, so the price is (maybe) justified. Okay, it’s not a perfect analogy, but you get the point.

And now I get the point

That prior paragraph was written based on what I knew. Rather, what I thought I knew. Check out those links and you’ll see what I didn’t: all their prices are online. Fancy that. I wonder where I picked up the idea that the best things in life shouldn’t come with price tags online?

Shows you how much  I know about good website marketing.

Very little.

Shows you how much I know about how to market myself as a ghostwriter on my website.

Very little.

What I do know – very well – is how to ghostwrite a good book. I’m also very good with people – in person, on the phone, in back and forth emails. How long have I had my website now? Almost ten years. How many of clients  found me online? None. Twitter clients? Uh-uh. Facebook converts? Nope. Where’d they all come from? Personal recommendations, friends, people I pitched, people who met me in person. Sure, they all visit my site at some point, but that’s because it’s got support material.

Why am I online at all?

My online presence is support material for my professional behavior, my portfolio, and evidence that I’m dialed in and in touch with technology and today’s media outlets. Not just in touch, but comfortable and familiar with them. The Internet used to be just a tool. You used it as a tool. It helped you. In today’s world, if you don’t have a presence on the Internet, you’re either out of touch or independently wealthy.

And while I’m sure there’s a great ending line to that set up in my last sentence, I’m really more eager to wrap up this question of fees or no-fees and get back to my off-line life.

“If you decide not to choose, you still have made a choice”.

I’m sticking with no prices for now. I want to redo my site anyway. I’m thinking of going totally off-line with my new website. I’ll throw down a questionnaire that sifts out the truly-interested, money in hand, well researched, solid platform, good to go, potential clients from the rest. The kind of client I can write for and increase their potential. One click to ’submit’ and I’ll send them a hard copy or an email PDF of all the stuff that would otherwise be online.

Hmmm. Should I list my fees in my off-line package?

 


 

[Image: Horia Varlan]

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie Jongsma July 30, 2010 at 10:43 am

Joey, how funny that you should post about this particular topic at this particular time—I was seriously thinking of emailing GhostWritePro to ask for your input on pricing and posting prices! You’ve gotten to the heart of my questions before I could even ask them. My own choice has been to include price ranges on my website, mainly to weed out the curious-but-broke. But I like the idea you’ve given me about adding a few lines to let people know “exceptions may be made.” I might try that and see what it does to inquiries.

Thanks for another great post!

Dawn Austin August 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Thank you so much for this article. I think that is what I was missing on my website. Thanks for the great post!

Joey Robert Parks August 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Melanie,

Can I say “You’re welcome for the great post” and not sound arrogant? I guess I can! Thank you for writing. I love getting feedback, of course, but it’s always nice when the person is inspired to act on a post in some way. In fact, your comment has led me to note on my site that, “Generally, my fees range between $20,000 and $45,000. I take on one spec project at a time, so if your budget doesn’t allow for that, check with me anyway. I may be able to help.” Okay, so I haven’t added it yet, but that’s what I’m thinking.

Dawn,

You’re welcome. Thanks for dropping by! I’ve just come from your website. Your ‘About Me’ page mentions your blog, “SmallBiz Stew”, which I wanted to read, but I couldn’t find a link anywhere on the site. Might you direct me to it? Thanks!

Lauran Childs May 7, 2013 at 11:06 am

Great post, I was looking around the web for ideas on how to negotiate with my new potential client who seems like a very good prospect for a well paying contract. I was thinking – I know what I want to charge for the job, if they want to pay less how could I concur without losing face?

Your idea of a contact form to qualify prospective clients is a great idea, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.

And yes, Craigslist has been a very good source of time-wasting people who can’t pay! I’m not going to bother with that any more although originally I thought what a great way to reach all kinds of people throughout the world.

Looking forward to learning how things resolve for you.

Joey June 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I’m glad you liked the post, Lauran. I completely reworked my website and though I’ve not made the new site live, the redesign does include prices. Something I learned after writing this post is the value of listing the highest prices first, then the lower prices.

The reason is the way people make decisions.

If you start with the lowest price, first, the potential client will feel burdened by the weight of the increasingly higher prices. However, if you lead with the highest price, say $45,000 to write a book from scratch, then follow it up with $30,000 to write a book based on pre-existing material, suddenly that 2nd number doesn’t look so bad. (Unless the person is expecting Craigslist prices, in which case you’re out of their reach no matter what and it’s better to cut them loose sooner.)

Working further down, I charge $4,500 to write a book proposal and $950 to write a bio. Those are the prices I charge and they will be on my website. I’ve also set up the contact form to pre-qualify potential website clients and it works awesome.

Just having your prices on your webpage is helpful, but don’t assume that because someone contacts you, they’ve actually read about the prices. It took me a long time to realize that potential clients don’t usually read much of the website before they contact me. So when they do, I now ask them right off the bat, how they found my website and what their budget is. They almost never answer the second question, but it sets up a good conversation to figure out what they have in mind.

As far as not loosing face with your prospective client, if you have set prices for your writing, there’s no face to lose. You tell them what you charge, but always add that there are multiple factors that will affect your prices (turn a round time, how busy you are, do they have a platform or not to build on, how eager are you to work with them, etc.).

I’m curious how things are going with your potential client.

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Hello, Lisa! For the first time ever, I am negotiating my way into being snomeoe’s ghostwriter. We are talking about a long term relationship, whereby I become that person’s writing voice for the duration of her career. She is looking for help with books, articles, maybe blogging, newsletters. Although I have decades of writing experience (not publishing), I have never before officially done ghostwriting. Prior to reading your blog or doing adequat research, I suggested to the prospective employer $10/hour April 15 to June 15 for research, writing articles,and we have not ironed out what all then re negotiation in June. I am not locked in with any contract, but rather than asking for more money I’m not sure I am worth yet, would I be best to set parameters about what the $10/hr or $1600.00 per month includes? OR should I say upon further reflection, I am worth $15.00/hour? Should I agree to write x amount of research, writing articles and blogs, and exclude book fees to compensate for my low fees? Am I shortchanging the person or myself by proving my merit to myself as much as to the person, then in mid June spike my costs to twice what I am asking ($3200.00 range per month) if the person is pleased (and more to the point a 3rd party publisher is pleased) with my work? Please get me started. Thank you.

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Ghostwriting fees vary considerably. Generally, for a full book, I would sggseut not going below $15K as long as you have considerable writing experience. If you are a novice and want to do this for your portfolio, you might charge less. For determining agents to send to, maybe charge a couple hundred dollars, though you can certainly charge less. For marketing plan, if you have lots of experience, that is a very valuable part of a proposal and takes time and expertise, so you can charge anywhere from $500 to $1,500 for that depending on the ideas contained and how proven or fresh they are.For the two chapters, I’d say $1,000-$2,000 a chapter, depending on your level of expertise, but you can charge more than that if you are a very experienced writer. Most agents and publishers will want to see 50 pages and then the whole memoir before they sign her, so you’ll probably need to write the whole thing and have a book proposal to interest publishers. See Mike Larsen’s How to Write a Book Proposal for your format. I assume this is a memoir (not famous person and about a period of the person’s life, not their whole life). If it is truly about their whole life, they’d better be pretty interesting and famous. Do be mindful whether you call this autobiography or memoir. You want to sound knowledgeable. Good luck!

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