How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter For A Book?

Aug 14, 2020 | Ghostwriting

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How to Hire a Ghostwriter

How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter for a book? If you’re on the lookout for the right pro for your project, whether a novel, memoir or business book, the topic of money is bound to come up at some point. Knowing what a book should cost, how to structure those payments, and what you get for your money is very important.

Here are a few things you should know about ghostwriting costs, terminology, and what you should expect in terms of outcomes.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Ghostwriter For A Book? 

Similar to other services, ghostwriters will vary quite widely in how they price their work and time. A simple survey of a dozen ghostwriting providers would (very likely) yield a dozen prices, payment structures, and ideas around delivery how to effectively deliver the manuscript.

What that means is this: you can make your decision based on what works for you.

When you hire a ghostwriter, you should understand what falls under the broad umbrella of that service. For one, you’re hiring a professional to conduct interviews and do research. If, for example, you’re writing a memoir, that means the story resides in your life experience. It takes a good interviewer to extract those stories. Additionally, research often plays a part in ghostwriting as historical facts need to be fleshed out.

The bulk of ghostwriting comes down to the actual writing of the manuscript. No surprise there. I like to think of this as the “production phase”, a period coming after we’ve talked about the project and gone over the ideas. Writing a solid manuscript takes time, usually about 15,000 words per month, and often requires a few follow up interviews.

Lastly, ghostwriting a book can include services like content editing and targeted re-writing (see below for more definitions). This isn’t necessarily the case though. In many instances, it is advisable to bring on an outside party to edit a book, especially something longer like a novel or full-length memoir.

Costs for a book vary depending on the ghostwriter, but a ballpark figure for a full book ranges from $30,000-60,000 and even increasing from there. While that number may provide you some initial sticker shock, it is a relatively inexpensive bar to reach the publishing marker with a high-quality manuscript in hand.

Terms & Facts To Understand

There are a few key terms and phrases you should understand before you start working with a ghostwriter. 

Ghostwriters work off of a word count, not pages:

This is a critical distinction for you, as a client, to recognize. When you work with a ghostwriter, they are very likely going to describe the project in terms of its anticipated final word count. It is highly unlikely that your ghostwriter will think in the terms of pages.

Luckily, it is easy to translate a book’s length into a word count.

For example, those nice, slim paperbacks you see on the shelves are in the 55,000-65,000 word count. If you’re thinking of a chunky fantasy novel, the likes of which you pick up before a cross country flight, those are more like 95,000-100,000.

How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter for a book comes down to the number of words.

Rough Draft:

A rough draft is just what it sounds like — the first, un-polished, un-edited manuscript. This is the first benchmark that a ghostwriter will deliver, a draft of the book that is not finished. A rough draft, or “first draft”, is an imperfect animal. Even professional writers, those with years of experience, turn in a draft of a book that needs a little extra attention. 

Final Draft:

Opposite of the above definition, a final draft is defined as the last benchmark a ghostwriter gives a client. After the book’s content has been sorted out, re-writing completed and stages of editing implemented, this is the polished piece of writing you will either self-publish or submit to publishers and agents.


Editing is the stage occurring between the first and final drafts. What happens during the editing phase largely depends on the project, contract, writer, etc… In general, however, a client receives their rough draft, reads it over, and requests changes.

Yes, professional writers miss things. We make mistakes. It’s part of writing.

Once those changes are requested, the ghostwriter goes back to the manuscript and implements them. Editing can get more complicated than that (and usually does) but it is critical to understand that every manuscript goes through a series of transformations from the rough beginning to the diamond in the end.

How much does it cost to hire a ghostwriter for a book

What Are The Expected Outcomes?

For your money, you should get the book that you want. A ghostwriter should deliver to you the best approximation of what you dreamt of to begin with.

Everyone’s desired outcomes are a little different, reflecting their personal needs. Some clients want to write a bestselling novel or memoir. Others want something they can use to mark their business or company. Still, others want to put down into works something to share with their family.

Work with your ghostwriter to let them know what you want. Be clear with them. Helping you achieve your ultimate vision is what a ghostwriter sets out to do.


Do you have any experience of hiring a ghostwriter for a book? What did you feel about the cost structure? 

If you have questions or comments, please leave them below. I would love to hear from you!