Why Clients Balk at Pricing…And What to Do About It

More often than not, your clients are crazy…well, at least they have crazy notions. Specifically, most clients have one very crazy notion. It usually goes something like this:

I have a book idea that is sure to be a bestseller. It’s going to skyrocket to the top of the New York Times List, and I’m going to make oodles and oodles of money.

And then it’s followed up by a balk at your pricing.

We’ve all been there. The sweaty-palm moment that comes after you’ve sat and listened to someone wax eloquent about their book project and how it’s going to be the best book ever. The moment where you have to talk about money.

And we’ve all heard the hesitation on the other end:

“That’s seems a little high.”

“I don’t really have that kind of money right now. Can we work something out?”

“So and so said they’d do it for this much less…”

Or even the dreaded words, “I’m willing to share the profits, if you’ll write for free.”

Shoot me in the head, right?

The reality is that we shouldn’t be surprised. Of course potential ghostwriting client’s will be passionate and confident in their project. That’s why they’re contacting you. But the reason potential clients come to us is because they don’t have any clue about what it takes to write a book—or what seemingly random and improbable events must take place to create a bestseller, let alone a profitable book. And they need a little dose of reality.

And deep down, I’m pretty sure most client’s know that their book isn’t going to make money—which is why they balk at pricing in the first place.

So what do you do?

Shoot Straight

Honesty is the best policy. When pricing comes up, I simply tell my clients the truth. They’ll probably never recover the cost spent on writing a book—at least directly. The reality is that very few books ever make money, especially if you lack writing skills and have hired someone like me.

The other day, I came across this great snippet over at Seth Godin’s blog: “The only people who should plan on making money from writing a book are people who made money on their last book. Everyone else should either be in it for passion, trust, referrals, speaking, consulting, change-making, tenure, connections or joy.”

Godin nails it here. And it’s imperative that if you’re telling a potential client why they won’t make money from their book that you also tell them why they should still write one.

Change their Paradigm

Book sales are nice. Everyone would love to write a big-time bestseller that brings in big cash every quarter in the form of a royalty check. But the reality is that for most people a book something entirely other than a passive cash flow home run.

Now, I’m a business book ghostwriter. Most of my clients are entrepreneurs and CEO types. So I have to find their angle. I pitch them this:

A book is the ultimate business card.

No matter what field you’re in, having a book can help you establish authority and elevate your business.

For instance, I had one client who wrote a book on gold and silver investing. His book sold moderately well, but I doubt he recovered his costs from book sales both in terms of time value and hard costs—including paying me.

But here’s where the book helped him. Since publishing his book a couple years ago his business as a precious metals dealer has increased exponentially, he’s hired three more employees, and he’s recognized as an authority on the subject of gold and silver investing, which has opened a lot of doors for him.

Without a book, he’d have just been another gold and silver dealer in a sea of such people. Now he’s an author and expert on gold and silver.

Find Your Angle

Now, you might be a different type of ghostwriter. Maybe your work with people writing memoirs or with crime fiction writers. Whomever you work with, you must find the angle that will take that person’s focus off of money and squarely on what motivates them.

The angle might be more personal or emotional. Some people want to leave a legacy for their family. Whatever the motivation, your job is to get your client’s mind off of money and onto his or her passion and motivation for writing a book in the first place. Then you make sure your client understands that your service is invaluable in making those dreams come true.

Stick to Your Guns

At the end of the day, some clients are truly motivated by money, and unless they’re big time authors, they’re just delusional.

Don’t drink their crazy juice. Don’t lower your prices or work out royalty deals just to land a client. Stick to your guns, shoot straight, and work with people who understand that you’re the expert and they’re not.

At the end of the day, you’ll be much happier—and successful—for doing so.

[Photo by Glicko]