How much does a ghostwritten chapter cost? It depends.

What does a it cost to get a book chapter written? There’s an eightfold variation in cost depending on the source material and process.

Let’s assume you’re working with a writer who charges $250 per hour. (I charge more, other writers may charge less, but let’s keep this number because it’s easy to calculate with.) And we’ll also assume that you and the writer have specified up-front how this chapter fits into a larger work, probably because you already spent time working up an idea and table of contents. Let’s also agree that there’s no agency taking a cut. And finally, let’s agree that this is a 4,000-word chapter.

Having eliminated the writer’s rate, the chapter length, and the prep work, we should be able to get a simple cost, right?

Not quite.

The price list

  • Cost of writing one draft of the chapter, assuming the client provides all the source material: $1250.
  • Cost with two drafts including author’s suggested revisions: $2,000.
  • Cost for two drafts incorporating suggestions from multiple reviewers: $4,000
  • Cost including feedback from multiple reviewers and the editor at your publisher: $5,000
  • Total cost for one draft if the writer must create all the source material by doing all the research and interviews and develop the idea by themselves: $5,000.
  • Cost if the writer does the research and must create revisions based on feedback from multiple reviewers: $7,000
  • Cost if the writer does the research and must create revisions based on feedback from reviewers and editor at the publisher: $8,000.
  • Cost with all of that plus coddling the client who wants to spend extra time whining about the publisher, their boss, the unfairness of the publishing industry, inflation, and the general state of the world: $10,000

What this means for people who hire writers

Why is writing so expensive?

If you’re asking this question, start by looking at yourself.

Are you hiring a writer to write, or to do ideation and research as well as writing? That kind of work demands a more expensive writer and that writer will charge you for those extra hours.

Does your review process really need to be that elaborate? Every reviewer you add “just to be sure about things” is adding cost and delay to the process. Is that worth it?

What this means for writers

Writers complain, and frequently, about having to work far more than they thought on a project. If they’re paid by the hour, they have to send unexpectedly large bills that the client may balk at. If they’re paid by the project, they’re doing more work than they budgeted for the same compensation.

Be smart.

One of your first questions should be: where will the source material come from?

Right after that, you should get clear on what the review process will be an how many people will be commenting on your work.

Create your quote accordingly.

And make it clear where the extra cost is coming from, so clients know what they’re paying for.

Because “writing” is a lot more than writing, and you deserve to get paid for your work.

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