2023 analysis: What A Ghostwriter Should Cost

Jan 13, 2023 | Ghostwriting

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It seems like everywhere you look, prices are increasing. Whether at the grocery checkout, the fuel pump, or the upkeep of your home, the cost of things is only going up. While that reality holds true in creative services (like fiction editing and ghostwriting) there is some reason for optimism in the coming year. I’m not here to say that prices will be going down anytime soon, that would be unrealistic, but take a look at what a ghostwriter should cost in 2023 and you might be surprised.

Before I delve into the subject here, I thought it was worth clearing up a few gray areas. 

The first aspect I want to make clear is that when I look at the costs of ghostwriters, I’m looking at experienced, proven professionals. We all know that there are cut rate service providers out there (think of Upwork, Fiverr and others) where you can basically find something for nothing. You probably don’t want to work with those writers.

Why not? 

A cheap writer likely brings a myriad of problems to the table. Inexperience. A lack of professionalism. Language barriers. If you’re getting something for that cheap, and in many of these cases, the writers are dirt cheap, you need to ask yourself what you’re getting for your money.

The second aspect is experience. When one says they’re an experienced writer, it means that they’ve written a book before. At least one but probably more than that. They’ve interviewed an array of clients and understand how to formulate a story. They have references and testimonials to boot. 

I can find you someone to write a book for $1,000 (a rate I’ve seen quite frequently in recent posts and ads). Do you really think that is going to be the kind of book you’re going to want to read though? The answer to that question is… well, maybe. I’m certain there are writers out there that can crank out a decent book at less around a penny a word, but as a client, you’re probably going to struggle to find that person. 

Let’s talk about wha a ghostwriter should cost in 2023.

What A Ghostwriter Should Cost: 2023 Report 

Before you read this, understand, I did not perform a highly scientific study on ghostwriting cost for this article. I’m connected to a number of ghostwriting groups, individual professionals and companies and toward the end of the year, I informally asked what they planned on charging.

What did I learn?

The first thing I learned is that professional ghostwriters, in general, charge in a range. I knew this going in as I price my projects in a range depending on client, situation, how busy I am, etc… More than ever before though, I saw that many of my fellow colleagues were opening themselves up to creative pricing. They were working on lower budget projects they would not have before.

That tells me that, on one hand, maybe ghostwriting could be getting cheaper?

On the other, those same ghostwriters told me that they were doing one of two things with the upper tiers of their rates. They were either holding steady, keeping to established 2022 prices, or raising their rates by a small percentage, usually in the 4-6% raise.

That’s not a terribly steep spike, but it is an increase nonetheless.

Per word: .60-$1.00

Per page: $140-200

When we’re talking about professional caliber talent and experience, what a ghostwriter should cost in 2023 remains similar to previous expected costs. A finished book of roughly 60,000 words will cost in the range of $36,000 to $60,000.

What A Ghostwriter Should Cost In 2023

Have Services Changed For This Year?

I was pretty pleased to see that my fellow professionals weren’t running like wild to lower their prices. That could be a very bad sign. Market uncertainty has a way of doing that sometimes, but it looks as though ghostwriters, at least for now, are holding strong. 

Provider confidence in price is one thing. What about the client’s confidence in that same cost? 

I don’t have that data. Knowing what a client is comfortable paying is really difficult to come up with. The only way I can guess whether my costs are too high, or just right, is whether someone agrees to work with me. If they choose to go elsewhere, it could be for a myriad of reasons. 

However confident I am in my ability to charge top dollar for my services, I’m taking the uncertain economy seriously. What does that look like? For me, I want to offer more value to my clients for their money. Gone are the days of writing a manuscript, handing it off and wishing someone well.

My goal? I want to help clients get from start to finish not just on a book, but on a publishing project.

What Does The Future Hold?

The increased expectation for what a ghostwriter should cost is not without optimism. Why? Because I think, as prices increase, those experienced ghostwriters are going to have to bring more to the table for their clients. 

What do I mean by more? 

For the first ten years of my career, I worked strictly as a ghostwriter. I wrote books and screenplays on assignment and produced a high quality product for my clients. About ten years ago though, I discovered a new need. Instead of seeking an agent or a manager, many of my clients were following the self-publishing trend. I was writing their books and then sending them to people I knew for services like formatting, Amazon placement and marketing.

Do you see the problem?

I was sending clients out when I should have been working to keep them in. Once I saw that, I made a conscious pivot. I learned how to format high quality books. I worked to learn how to effectively place books on Amazon and the basics of book marketing. In a word, I diversified.

If I could look into a crystal ball, I think the future of ghostwriting and editing (and likely all creative services) looks like a much more diverse place. Providers will need to offer more services and find creative ways to package things together for clients looking for one stop shopping. 

What a ghostwriter should cost may be more. In 2023, however, I think you, the client, can expect more for your money.