Since I published my book, people are coming out of the woodwork asking me to ghostwrite for them. Ghostwriters are expensive and are often unavailable. So you should think carefully if you really need one, or if you need a developmental editor.
Here’s a table of tasks that developmental editors and ghostwriters for nonfiction books do.
|Define basic idea||Never||Usually|
|Refine idea||Usually||Nearly always|
|Define table of contents||Rarely||Usually|
|Suggest changes to table of contents||Usually||Usually|
|Gather research and source material||Never||Usually|
|Edit and revise drafts for content||Always||Always|
|Edit and revise drafts for language||Always||Always|
|Create final draft ready for publisher||Sometimes||Always|
|Manage production process with publisher||Sometimes||Usually|
One test determines if you need a ghostwriter
If you feel unable to draft chapters on your own, you need a ghostwriter.
If you can draft chapters, even if you have low confidence in the quality of what you create, you are better off with an editor.
The cost for a quality ghostwriter for a business book of at least 50,000 words is likely to be $50,000 or more. Longer books, books that require more technical knowledge, and books that require the ghostwriter to do more research will cost more.
The cost for an editor for the same sort of book is $7,000 to $25,000. (Editors who have the skills to give you the help you need are unlikely to do a 50,000-word book for less than this.)
The reason for the range in prices is that some editing jobs are easy, and others are extremely challenging. If the author has created a poorly organized, repetitive mess, untangling that is a bigger job.
But it always less work to improve something — even a mess — than it is create something. This is why editing is so much cheaper than ghostwriting.
If you can write, even if you are insecure about it, get an editor or writing coach and write what you can. You won’t just save money. You’ll feel better about the eventual result, too.