Cheap Ghost Writing Isn't Easy - But It's Worthwhile!

What's it like to write a book and not be able to put your name on the cover? Is there money in it? What kind of money?

My guest today is Karen Cole, Executive Director and President of Ghost Writing, Inc., a professional ghost writer service. According to Karen, you might think that selling yourself short is a sure way to not be a success in the ghost writing field and your eyes are probably dancing with the large sums of money that you've heard ghost writers make ($80,000 - $150,000 yearly or $50,000 - $100,000 per book), but do you need to go really high?

"This is especially so when you've started to break into the field," Karen says, "and you're a ghost writer who has never really ghosted a book for someone else before. You're probably thinking big bucks, major book contracts, large amounts of cash advances from publishers and huge percentages from the books you will be anonymously writing for big time authors.

"But let's face some facts. First time authors are often people with no 'real' money or skills to invest in writing a book. They may have fantastic stories to tell, but they don't have the enormous amount of financial capital available to hire any such expensive ghost writers. They're bound to enter some psychological difficulties when they see that the payments to you are the whopper figures such as those listed above, and that those are the only sorts of prices accessible to them. By laying out such enormous fees, you could be stuck losing a huge customer base of clients with fantastic stories to tell - but without the major wherewithal to pay you to tell them. What if, say, your potential author, or the person hiring you to write his or her story, has only $5,000 or so to spend?

"I know what I'm talking about, and I can create a decent, well-written work of ghost writing in three months or so for around that amount of money. You do that, and there's your $40,000 - 80,000 per year! It really isn't all that hard. You don't even have to charge as high as $25,000 per book. However, $5,000 makes for a great inexpensive ghost writer or writers, if you're talking one good book author or authors.

"Most other ghost writers I know are only as capable I am, but many of them do charge the higher amounts. The clients of the high end ghost writers tend to be people with enormous sales potential, not the typical first time authors who have a great story but often don't really go anywhere with it - the so called 'sucker market.'

"It might be worthwhile to consider charging less, or negotiating a deal with such a 'first timer.' Over the years, I have drawn the conclusion that there are an awful lot of such people out there. I have been ghost writing books for people for as low an amount as $5,000 per book, and as I have sources of income from other types of writing, I have been finding an immense amount of personal satisfaction from helping such would be authors actually obtain what they are looking for in a "cheap ghost writer" who charges a reasonable price for the quality and quantity of work done for them. I simply ask for installment payments, usually made in advance, and sometimes I also ask for a percentage of the net book sales.

"This works out to be less "greedy" on my part and more of a service that I provide for authors who are simply yearning to get their books up high on the top of the New York Times Bestseller lists, and who know that such are their dreams, not necessarily their realities. These are often people who have reached the ends of their ropes when it comes to negotiating a lower price for their books. They usually have nowhere else to turn when it comes to putting out their own personal stories, and they need someone with a willing ear and pen to listen and help them set down their tales before it's too late for them to be told. And there is still hope for these people to even hit the big time, if they have the right types of stories to tell.

"Also, some of these authors simply don't know what they're doing and need a guiding hand to help them. They need their letters of query written up for them, their brief biographies put together, and their book proposals prepared for them, as they are dipping their toes into the writing field and getting them wet for the first time. A lot of them think they are going to get their book written and then get some kind of major advance, straight from a publisher.

"It just isn't like that 90% of the time. It's better to prepare the book manuscript first. An advance comes after a deal has been negotiated with a reputable literary agent, bids by publishers for the book have been scrutinized, sometimes other editors have been consulted, and contracts have been signed. It helps in a major way to have the book in hand, sometimes even having it self published first, to get it anywhere near a commercial publisher. This can be a very expensive process for a first time, would be author.

"People like that don't need to face down what looks like to them to be a million dollar price tag when they are looking for what's described as a 'cheap' ghost writer. They want an actual inexpensive ghost writer who understands their needs, both budgetary and otherwise, who can sit down with them and negotiate a fairly low amount of money paid out by them so they can figure on at least getting some return from their books. These people are not Presidents of the United States or famous movie actors, whose books are guaranteed to sell, and many of them find themselves 'stuck' with what used to be called vanity publishing, nowadays called self publishing. They won't necessarily find a commercial publisher who wants to take a chance on huge returns from their books in today's multifaceted but still challenging world of publishing.

"These clients need literally cheap or inexpensive ghost writers. They don't need to spend a small fortune on their books to find out they all dead ended in a warehouse, didn't sell as widely as they thought they would, or they otherwise came out on the short end of the stick. They need to carefully invest their time and effort on a decent, expert ghost writer. And they could use some material publishing help to get their books 'out there' - properly displayed and promoted in today's modern Internet oriented book market. We don't always do all of the above, but we lead in the direction of it. And we prepare excellent book manuscripts.

"Help them. Consider bargaining and bartering at a lower price sometimes, and not at a higher price. It might be worth your while. Try it and see!"

Karen Cole has had over thirty professional years of experience as an inexpensive ghost writer, rewriter, copy editor and proof reader of book manuscripts. She has also performed many other types of freelance and contracted writing jobs and has a combined degree in journalism, creative writing and the fine arts, and has been creating and editing books, documents and papers for people since well before 1980.
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