“How much should I charge to ghostwrite someone’s life story?”

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I’ve been approached to write and collaborate on a book of someone’s life story. They’ve agreed to list me as the co-author, and asked what type of payment I desire. I’ve done my research on ghostwriting, and know that the fees vary from per project to per hour.

My experience with this scale is lacking. I don’t want to sell myself short, but I also don’t want to overcharge. We’re talking 75 years of a life story with plenty of adventures and well-known contacts, and money doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. Would you ask for a flat fee for so many billable hours, or still charge by the hour?

As a co-author, I would expect some sort of royalties/commissions off of book sales, but have no idea where to start. Help!

Thank you in advance!


If it were me, I would DEFINITELY charge by the hour! Autobiography, biography and memoir projects can take on a life of their own and you don’t want to end up working for months or years on a flat-fee project.

I’d also opt for a respectable hourly rate and waive the royalties/commissions. There’s no way to guarantee the author will aggressively promote the book, nor that they won’t quickly grow bored with book promotion once it’s on the market. Counting on future income based on somebody else’s dreams and marketing activities (or lack thereof) will likely lead to disappointment. Read more about that HERE. And, if you waive future royalties/commissions, your client may be more agreeable to your hourly rate.

On a different note, if you need help dragging stories, memories, and other tidbits out of your client during the interview process, I recommend using Memory Triggers. Click HERE.


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