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Ghost Writing for a Living

Updated on November 6, 2016

If you are willing to forgo the glory of seeing your name in print, try ghost writing for a living. Writer"s can charge upwards of $25 per hour working as a ghost writer though many start at as little as $2 per hour. The amount you charge will depend on the experience you have in the area where you are ghostwriting. Many writers start out writing keyword articles, which is a great place to hone your skills. Advanced ghostwriters can tackle areas such as writing memoirs, short stories, family histories or pamphlets for local organizations.

Ghost Writing for a Living

How do you get a start in the ghostwriting business? Many writers get their first ghostwriting gig by being in the right place at the right time. Other writers get their jobs by searching the freelance writing ads that can be found on many Internet writing sites or in their local newspapers. It is becoming more common for many people seeking ghostwriters to advertise on the Internet. Freelance writers can also post their own ads for work by stating that they are ghostwriters. The number of people working as ghostwriters is relatively small because many people want the recognition for their own writing. The great news is that there are plenty of jobs to go around because of this. Ghostwriters may be working in the wings, but many are members of the American Society of Journalists and Authors as well as the National Writers Union.

Freelance Ghost Writing Tips

I'll be the first to admit I made some mistakes when I first started out writing, but luckily that didn't carry over into my ghostwriting business. Before you start ghost writing for a living, there are a few tips that may help you avoid pitfalls that have befallen other writers:

1. Don't write on spec. Meaning: don't write for free, unless you're getting something else of value in return. Don't write just because someone says they'll use you in the future, recommend you to an editor, etc. Bottom line- no one who is legit will ask you to do this, since there is no way to guarantee work in the future.

2. Get it in writing - if you're working on a long-term project, get the specifics in writing. For example, does the person who is asking you to write want you to edit as well? How many edits will they expect from you? If they're difficult to please, could your pay be held up indefinitely? If you put it in writing, such as you will perform one edit, and all other edits will be on a per hour rate (stating your rate as well), you'll have closed one loophole that some people use to hold your pay hostage.

3. Know the deadline, and be prepared for it. If you're working with an author who has a specific deadline, you need to meet that deadline. While it may be possible to get extensions, no one wants to work with someone who is going to delay publications. When you take on a ghost writing job, you should be in it 100 percent for the duration, including that last week before submission that will test your stamina, and sometimes temper.

4. State your terms upfront. If you're good at what you do, your previous experience should speak for itself, and as such, you should charge accordingly. If you're a strong writer AND editor, you should definitely charge top dollar, since you're doing the work of two people. While terms may vary, many ghost writers charge 25 percent up front, 25 percent half way through the project, and the balance due at submission. You may of course choose to do it weekly, per page, or any other range of options that you feel will work in your situation. A word of caution: don't wait to be paid until after you submit the work in its entirety; you may never see your payment. Many people have been duped this way- don't be one of them!

5. Do your research before you sign on. You should know a little about the e-book biz if that is what you'll be writing, or the market for paperbacks/hardbacks. The reason: knowing what the potential sales are for your client's book genre will help you set YOUR price. For example, many e-books make thousands (or much more) in revenue. If the author is only paying you $2 per page, for a 150-page book you've slaved over, the author will be cashing in on your mistake.

Comments

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  • Gerber Ink profile imageAUTHOR

    Charlotte Gerber 

    7 years ago from upstate New York

    Hi Petra and Saddlerider1, I just completed a basic primer on creating a writer website (http://hubpages.com/hub/Create-a-Writer-Website). Hopefully it answers/helps you with creating your own websites. If not, feel free to leave me another message, or two... I'm happy to answer any questions on the topic!

  • Petra Vlah profile image

    Petra Vlah 

    7 years ago from Los Angeles

    I would love to have my own website; could you please tell me how to do it? Thank you

  • saddlerider1 profile image

    saddlerider1 

    7 years ago

    Thank you Gerber Ink. I have a website called Doingsixty.com in it I share my poetry and short stories and I will be adding more stories and advice that would pertain to the older generation, baby boomers and such. Have a look if you will, do you think I could use that site to stem some interest from a ghost writers perspective? hugs

  • Gerber Ink profile imageAUTHOR

    Charlotte Gerber 

    7 years ago from upstate New York

    Hi Saddlerider1, If you haven't already done so, consider creating a writer website for yourself. It is a good way to let others know about your work as well as the type of work you're looking for. There are many free websites out there (many Internet service providers offer them free to their customers), so don't hesitate to create one!

  • Gerber Ink profile imageAUTHOR

    Charlotte Gerber 

    7 years ago from upstate New York

    Hi Petra- Thanks for stopping by. I've left you some fan mail as I've been following you for some time now! ;)

  • saddlerider1 profile image

    saddlerider1 

    7 years ago

    Thank you for these wonderful tips. I am a new writer here at hubs and have had many accolades from fellow writers but my confidence level as a writer has a way to go. I enjoy writing, I don't write on hubpages for money or recognition, I write because I feel compelled to share my life experiences with others who may be going through or have gone through similar past experiences. If per chance someone sees my work and recommends me to ghost write I would definitely consider it, for now I am a writer taking his first baby steps:0) in the writing world.

  • Petra Vlah profile image

    Petra Vlah 

    7 years ago from Los Angeles

    This is what I call an informative hub with step by step instructions.

    Considering how many people are writing for pennies (on HP and other sites), being a gost-writer does not seem like such a bad idea, especially since getting published is for most peope only a distant dream. When I say this I am not taking into consideration self-publishing which everyone can do no matter what they write or what the quality of their writing is.

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