By Laura S., member of GWI’s book ghost writing and editing team:
Thinking of hiring a ghostwriter, but don’t have a lot of money to spend? If your budget is extremely limited, you might be tempted to hire a cheap ghostwriter. Heck, even if it isn’t, why not try to save a dime? I can see the logic. After all, even the most wealthy people I know are frugal and smart with their money. That’s how they became wealthy in the first place! However, if you hire an ultra cheap writer, I can tell you from experience that you’ll most likely need to rewrite the book yourself or hire another ghostwriter, who will scrap the cheap version and start over.
I had a client who was wrestling with this very scenario. My bid for her book was within my normal range, but she was getting very attractive offers from other sources. Mine was average, but she had trouble ignoring one bid which came in well under $5,000! In the end, after she did extensive research and checked out my references, she opted to hire me. A friend of hers went the cheap ghostwriter route, taking advantage of the too-good-to-be-true offer.
My client was happy that she made the decision she did after she read a few chapters of her friend’s book. If you simply want 50,000 words strung together that you can throw up onto Amazon.com then by all means don’t spend more than a few thousand bucks. You won’t see a return on your money, but you will have your name on a book. For some, that’s all their looking for. I’ve been asked about my thoughts on hiring someone from a non-English speaking country. You might get lucky and find a gem, but keep a few points in mind:
- English is not their native language.
- They do not live and breathe your country and society.
- The idioms and cultural nuances will be hard for them.
- The writing quality might not be what you expect.
When you’re shopping around, you might find a ghostwriter in the U.S. who doesn’t know his or her worth. It can happen and they charge too little because they are desperate to work in this industry. Although they can sometimes write well, their business sense is a bit off, which can be reflected in your working relationship.
There is usually quite a bit of baggage that comes with the deal as well. Since you know they can’t make a living on the wages they’re earning from your project, they may not devote the hours needed each week to your project. It will take them 200 to 400 hours to complete your book, so make sure they will put in the necessary time on your project before signing with them. If they promise to write your book in two months, make sure you have a way to check for plagiarism.
Cheap ghostwriters might go that route to short cut the process, but there is software you can purchase to help you detect this criminal activity. Ghostwriters should charge somewhere between $15,000 to $60,000 to write a full length book (200 to 300 pages). The Canadian Writer’s Union has a minimum fee set at $25,000, so if someone bids $2,000, your “Spidey” sense should kick in. Cheap ghostwriters are usually not a good plan and can end up costing you more in the long run.