Nothing is more exciting for a writer than landing a long-term, high-paying, and FUN writing assignment…
Especially when it’s a project you are deeply passionate about.
You wake up feeling empowered and ready to tackle your day… You have cool stories to share with your friends and family… And you develop long-lasting relationships with clients that could lead to even more success.
Today, we’re going to tackle an opportunity with all these benefits. Very few writers know about it…
But once you break in, the work keeps coming.
Welcome to the secret and lucrative life of ghostwriting.
In this article, we’re going to delve into the benefits of this “hidden” career, and how much ghostwriting actually pays.
Get Paid Handsomely to Make Dreams Come True
Have you ever heard the old adage “Everybody has a book inside them waiting to come out”?
It’s the truth…
Ask anyone you know, and they’ll tell you all about their big book/script/series idea… perhaps more than you’d like to hear!
But even though everyone has a story, most people don’t know how to make telling theirs become a reality.
They sit in front of blank screens, unsure where to begin… are too busy with their jobs and their families and don’t have time to work… or just plain don’t feel like writing.
Whatever the reason, they need someone to write their stories for them. And that’s where ghostwriters come in!
Ghostwriters turn people’s ideas into finished products. Whether it’s memoirs for veterans, business books for CEOs, or spy thrillers for investment bankers…
These “hidden figures” command quite a pretty penny writing, without ever having to deal with agents or publishers themselves.
Your Life Experience Is Your Expertise
Most famous ghostwriters had other careers before they got started in ghostwriting. Some had corporate jobs… others were lawyers or teachers or perhaps stay-at-home parents.
One was an attorney and financial coach who wrote her own stories before transitioning into life as a successful book ghostwriter. Another writer worked at universities and eventually started helping professors put together papers for academic journals.
Barefoot Writer Tim O’Leary worked as a part-time columnist for a fantasy website while working a day job at New York Presbyterian hospital. He eventually took on a novel for a firm, and now he’s a full-time, freelance ghostwriter.
Because ghostwriting truly is a “behind the scenes” job, it allows for full freedom in your schedule. You can work on however many or few projects you want to at once and no one will know.
Your clients will never give you away, except to refer you to other potential clients when they’re happy with your work.
Which leads me to how ghostwriters get their start…
Potential Ghostwriting Clients Are All Around You!
The biggest hurdle in the beginning of a ghostwriting career is wondering how on earth you can get started. If this whole career is so “hidden,” how does anyone know to hire you?
Like I said before, everyone has a story inside of them. Part of marketing yourself as a ghostwriter is asking people if they’ve ever thought about writing a book.
One of Tim’s biggest gigs came from a conversation with a high school friend of his who is an army veteran. He had wanted to write a memoir about his time in war, but didn’t have any actual writing experience.
They got to talking, and it turned out this friend had a contact who was willing to donate $50,000 to get the book written. Not published, just written.
They whipped up a contract and wrote the book in just over a year. Not a bad payday for a year of part-time work!
It can be that easy…
If you tell people you’re a ghostwriter and ask them if they have a story they’re looking to write, it’s only a matter of time before you make a lucrative connection that gets your career off the ground.
One of the Sweetest Gigs Out There…
So, how much does ghostwriting pay?
It’s shocking to many people just how much money ghostwriters make…
But remember, they are choosing to give up credit for the writing in exchange for a high writing fee. It’s a great deal for writers who love writing, but don’t want to deal with the hassles of publication.
Essentially, you get paid to write books… whether anyone buys them or not!
Starting ghostwriters can expect to earn around $10,000 for a book project. The more experience you get, the more you can earn, with experts commanding $50,000 or more for each project.
(This doesn’t even touch the celebrity ghostwriting realm, where you can earn six figures or more from one book.)
And the great news is, people understand your worth right out of the gate. These are long-form projects with a huge value that you’re putting your clients’ names on… They expect to pay a lot for it!
Now, if books aren’t your speed, there are still plenty of other opportunities for you…
In fact, ghostwriters are behind almost any type of writing you see these days.
Articles, blogs posts, academic papers… even comic books or screenplays… Whatever area of expertise you have is fair grounds on which to build a ghostwriting business.
The Writer’s Life on Your Own Terms
Because projects tend to be long term, ghostwriters have a lot of control over how payment schedules and contracts look.
Generally speaking, a ghostwriter decides the scope of a project, how long they think the full project will take, and deadlines for milestones throughout.
For example, let’s say you land a client for a 200-page mystery novel. Your first step is a discovery call with the client (which you get paid for!) to talk through the book and get a feel for the story.
The next step is developing an outline. Outlines are great, because not only do they give you and your client a road map for how the project will look… but once you’ve settled on one, they keep your client from changing their mind halfway through.
Beyond that, you simply set milestones for when you turn in pages. Perhaps you like to write a whole chapter before sending it to the client. Or maybe you want to do only 5 to 10 pages at a time.
Either way, you decide what’s best for you and work on your own terms. And then set “paydays” — like a check for every 50 pages or 5,000 words.
At the end of the day, you’ve set up a project that could last six months to a year and a half and brings in money steadily. Even better, you can take on as much or as little as you want because your work is a closely kept secret.
When you ghostwrite for a living, you’re literally getting paid to practice what you love doing. The more you write, the better you get, and the best motivation for that is a great paycheck!
Get Experts to Pay You to Pick Their Brains
Another major perk of ghostwriting is connecting with fascinating people from around the world… people with wildly different experiences who rely on you to tell their stories.
Essentially, they’re paying you to share their secrets.
Because you’re helping these people complete their passion projects, they feel grateful for you and your work. And you never know when a connection you make could lead to a dream project of your own.
One ghostwriter had been working on memoirs for years, and then started getting “co-writing” opportunities. That means your name appears alongside the author’s.
Getting a co-writing credit can be an incredible boost to your “clout” as a writer. Not only do you get to actually say you wrote the book, but you get royalties if it’s ever published!
Yet, even without that, satisfied clients will happily recommend you to their friends and colleagues. Soon you’ll find yourself turning down work. It’s a win-win scenario.
Join the “Hidden League” and Get Paid as a Ghostwriter!
Ultimately, ghostwriting is great for people who love collaborating long term with a handful of clients… getting huge emotional and monetary payoffs from their work… and being in full command of their schedules.
The breadth of projects can take anywhere from a week, in the case of an article, to a year and a half if you take on a full book. That means three book-writing clients a year could be more than enough to establish a six-figure writing business.
And you don’t need a lot to get started.
If you’ve ever written anything — even an article or a short story — that’s enough. Most clients, especially early on, will want to see your writing only to gauge whether your style matches what they’re looking for.
If you don’t have anything, that’s okay, too! Start by writing a short-form article or blog piece in your area of expertise. You don’t even need to publish it; you just need to feel confident in sending it as a sample of your work.
Eventually, once you have samples and you’ve been asking people about their stories, you will find your first client. You’ll finally be a part of this exciting “hidden league,” start getting paid as a ghostwriter, and be on the path to a fun-filled and lucrative writer’s life.