I'm sorry to raise the vulgar subject of money. However, we are going to have to discuss it at some point.
One thing that I do need to make clear is that I will need to be paid, somehow. Writing is what I do for a living, and what puts food on the table and keeps a roof over my head.
If your book is not intended as a commercial project (for instance, it may be a family history) or if it has little commercial potential (which may well be the case even if your book is interesting, worthy, or important), I still need to be paid.
As far as my fees go, I will never be the cheapest ghostwriter you can find; however, I think my fees are quite reasonable in the context of what other ghostwriters charge and in relation to the income that can be generated on the back of my work.
As a matter of principle I decline all potential projects where the commissioning criteria is driven by budgetary constraints and the fees are being compared against unskilled writers. If you want cheap, then your results will be cheap. I am proud of the quality of my work and that is the basis on which I promote my services.
The amount I expect to be paid is very much dependent on the time it will take me to complete the task. Until I have got a reasonable idea of the scope of the project, I am unable to offer any suggestions as to my charges.
When I quote prices, I like to quote an "all in, no surprises" fee. In other words, you get the end product for the price I have quoted before the work begins.
My normal terms are 50% at start of project, 40% on turning in the manuscript, with the balance then being paid on completion of any changes you want. I am happy to be paid by any legal form of money transfer.
I will consider projects where the budget has already been agreed. If you have a fixed budget, then it would be useful if you mention this at the outset. If the budget is tight then we can look at ways to control the scope of the project and to keep the costs down.
Transfer of Rights
From your perspective there is a significant advantage to paying me a flat fee: once you have paid my fee in full then all rights transfer to you. So, for instance, if your book is the highest grossing book, ever, then I get no further payment once my fee has been met.
Controlling Project Costs
The cost of a project can spiral out of control if it is not clear whether a piece of work is included or not included. As I have already indicated, my preferred manner of addressing this issue is to quote an all in, no surprises fee.
There may be other costs on a project beyond the scope of my work—for instance, printing costs—and these are where the fees can mount up. One of the key advantages of working we me is that I can help you manage these costs in order to keep them to a minimum. This is particularly helpful if you are looking at self-publishing options—there are a wide range of services available and, to be frank, the costs can be very high (especially in connection with "free" services). I have extensive experience in self-publishing, both in paper and electronically, and can ensure the costs are as they should be (in other words, minimal).
I don't charge an additional fee for helping you to manage costs—it is an integral part of how I work and one of the value-added benefits of working with me.
Share of Earnings
I am sometimes asked to consider taking a share of earnings from a project rather than a fixed fee.
I will consider this option, provided there is a realistic chance of getting paid. In other words, I won't take a share of fee arrangement for speculative and non-commercial projects. Also, with a share of earnings project, I would usually expect to receive my share of the income directly from the publisher (or a literary agent). If there is no publisher or agent involved, then I will almost certainly decline a share of fee arrangement.
One other point you should note is that if I take a share of earnings, then I retain my rights in the project, in other words, we will have an ongoing relationship and there will be no limitation on the amount of fees I can be paid.
I am happy to consider fiction projects; however, there are a few additional considerations for this sort of work.
First off, it is important to understand that just because you have a good idea, that alone does not mean you will have a successful book. There are thousands (literally, if not millions) of good works of fiction that do not have any commercial success.
Due to the additional risk associated with fiction, I am more cautious about what I charge, and the projects I will consider.
Therefore, unless you have a "platform" to market a work of fiction (for instance you are an established fiction writer looking to work with a collaborator or you have a media profile) then I will always decline a project. I will also look for a fee rather than a pure share of earnings—I work on the logic that if you are not happy to consider paying a fee, then you don't have confidence in your concept. If you don't have the confidence in your concept, then I am not sure that there would be any reason why I would want to get involved.