The Financials of Ghostwriting: Pricing, Contracts, and Royalties

4 min read

The Financials of Ghostwriting: Pricing, Contracts, and Royalties
The Financials of Ghostwriting: Pricing, Contracts, and Royalties


Ghostwriting is a unique and lucrative profession that allows writers to showcase their skills while staying behind the scenes. However, navigating the financial aspects of ghostwriting can be a bit tricky. From setting rates to negotiating contracts and understanding royalty agreements, it's important for ghostwriters to have a solid understanding of the financial side of their business. In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the financial aspects of ghostwriting and offer guidance on managing the business side of ghostwriting to ensure fair compensation for your work.

Setting Rates

Setting the right rates for your ghostwriting services is crucial to ensure you are fairly compensated for your time and expertise. There are several factors to consider when determining your rates:

  • Your experience and expertise: If you have a proven track record and extensive experience in a particular genre or niche, you can justify charging higher rates.

  • The scope of the project: Consider the length of the manuscript, the complexity of the subject matter, and the amount of research and interviews required.

  • Your time commitment: Assess how much time you will need to dedicate to the project and factor in any additional services you may provide, such as editing or revisions.

  • The market demand: Research the current market rates for ghostwriting services in your genre or niche to ensure your rates are competitive.

Once you have considered these factors, you can determine your rates. Some ghostwriters charge per word, per page, or per project. It's important to be transparent with your clients about your rates and ensure that they understand what is included in your services.

Negotiating Contracts

When entering into a ghostwriting project, it's essential to have a well-written contract in place to protect both parties involved. The contract should outline the scope of the project, payment terms, deadlines, and any additional services or rights granted.

Here are some key elements to include in your ghostwriting contract:

  • Scope of Work: Clearly define the expectations and deliverables of the project. Specify the number of revisions included and any additional services provided.

  • Payment Terms: Outline the payment structure, including any upfront fees, milestones, or royalties. Specify when and how payments will be made.

  • Deadlines: Set realistic deadlines for each stage of the project, including the completion of the manuscript and any revisions.

  • Confidentiality: Include a confidentiality clause to protect the client's privacy and ensure that the ghostwriter will not disclose any information about the project.

  • Intellectual Property: Clarify who will own the rights to the work and whether the ghostwriter will receive any credit or royalties.

It's important to review the contract with your client and address any concerns or questions before signing. If necessary, consult with a lawyer to ensure that the contract is legally binding and protects your interests as a ghostwriter.

Understanding Royalty Agreements

Royalties are a common form of compensation for ghostwriters, especially when working on books that have the potential for significant sales. Royalties are typically a percentage of the book's net sales, and the specific terms can vary depending on the agreement.

Here are a few key points to consider when negotiating royalty agreements:

  • Percentage: Determine the percentage of royalties you will receive. This can range from 5% to 20% or more, depending on the project and your level of involvement.

  • Net Sales: Define what constitutes "net sales" and how it will be calculated. Typically, it refers to the revenue generated from book sales after deducting any discounts, returns, or production costs.

  • Advance: Discuss whether there will be an advance payment against future royalties. An advance is a lump sum payment that is recouped from future royalty earnings.

  • Term: Specify the duration of the royalty agreement. It can be for a specific period or extend for the life of the copyright.

  • Accounting and Reporting: Determine how often you will receive royalty statements and how the accounting will be handled.

It's important to carefully review the royalty agreement and ensure that the terms are fair and favorable to you as the ghostwriter. Seek legal advice if needed to fully understand the implications of the agreement.

Managing the Business Side of Ghostwriting

Aside from setting rates, negotiating contracts, and understanding royalty agreements, there are other important aspects to consider when managing the business side of ghostwriting:

  • Marketing and Promotion: Develop a marketing strategy to attract clients and showcase your expertise. Utilize social media, professional networks, and online platforms to increase your visibility.

  • Client Communication: Maintain open and clear communication with your clients throughout the project. Regularly update them on the progress and address any concerns or questions promptly.

  • Time Management: Efficiently manage your time to ensure you meet deadlines and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Consider using project management tools or time-tracking apps to stay organized.

  • Continuing Education: Stay updated on industry trends, writing techniques, and publishing practices. Attend workshops, webinars, or conferences to enhance your skills and knowledge.

  • Financial Planning: Set aside a portion of your earnings for taxes and business expenses. Consider consulting with an accountant or financial advisor to ensure you are managing your finances effectively.

By effectively managing the business side of ghostwriting, you can establish a successful and financially rewarding career in this field.


Ghostwriting offers a unique opportunity for writers to earn a living while staying behind the scenes. Understanding the financial aspects of ghostwriting, such as setting rates, negotiating contracts, and understanding royalty agreements, is crucial to ensure fair compensation for your work. By following the guidelines outlined in this blog post and effectively managing the business side of ghostwriting, you can thrive in this profession and build a successful career.