Someone asked the other day what I thought a good writer would charge to ghost an article for him. I had to think about that for a while, even though I've been ghosting for others for years. Here's what I finally came up with.
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What you'll need to pay to hire a quality writer to ghost an article for you depends upon a number of factors, of course. Among the things I need to know before accepting an assignment are these:
- The complexity of the article's subject matter. Is it a piece on the health advantages of owning and caring for pets, or is it an explanation of the Theory of Relativity? That makes a huge difference because that will determine how much research I'll have to invest before ever setting pen to paper. For me, as for most other folks, time is money.
- My familiarity with and appreciation of the subject. If it has something to do with writing, publishing, or English grammar, I'll take it. I'll even give you a cut rate. If, on the other hand, it's a look at why sexual identity is no longer strictly a binary consideration, I'll take it, too. But I'll have to double my rate.
- The deadline. If I have a long lead time, I can charge somewhat less because I'll be working on other projects in between. If you're on a tight deadline, though, that's another matter, and I'll have to take that into consideration when setting a price.
- Any personal interviews or travel involved in researching the article. These take time and money to arrange and pull off, even if the interviews are over the telephone or via e-mail. And physical travel, of course, necessitates all kinds of real and potential additional expenses, which may or may not have to come out of my proceeds.
- Your proposed payment schedule. If you want to pay one-fourth down and the balance upon completion of an acceptable article, count me out. That's simply not enough motivation for me to sign on the dotted line. When I write--either an article or a book--I ask for and get half upon signing a contract and half upon completion.
- Your personality. Seriously. It's important. If you're abrasive, grating, or downright rude, sure I'll work for you. For double what I'd charge if you showed a modicum of respect and consideration not only for me but also for everyone else with whom you work.
- The number of citations the article requires. If I have to spend days or longer citing every statistic or fact I include in the article, that's going to cost extra. If no citations are required, that will cost less. Again: Time is money.
- Various other miscellany. If you want a daily report on my progress, I'm going to charge you extra for my time and inconvenience. A more reasonable reporting period would be a week or so, depending upon the deadline for completion. If the deadline is a week, I can see reporting in at the article's halfway mark. Similarly, if you're going to offer detailed and petty suggestions at every turn, I'm going to make sure that doing so comes at a stiff financial cost.
The bottom line is that I'm a professional with more than 250 conventionally published books and tens of thousands of published articles to my credit. I've also taught writing, editing, and grammar at the college level and worked for years as an editor of magazines, books, and newspapers. I know full well what works and what doesn't and what's good writing and what isn't. And I always shoot for great. That's just the way I'm made. And it's a minimum of what I believe my clients are entitled to get in return for their money.
Oh, yes, and I never lack for work, even though I charge a flat minimum of $4K for a three-to-four-thousand-word article. Just FYI.
So, if you're interested in hiring me, let's talk. Until then, I suggest you sit back, pour yourself a snifter of Cognac, and ...
Smoke if you've got 'em.
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D. J. Herda is author of the new e-Book series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere. His blogs appear on his Website at www.djherda.org. You can also check out his columns, "The Author-Ethicist" and "Fury and the Beast," at Substack. They're free; they're entertaining; they're informative, and they run weekly. Well, almost weekly. Occasionally weekly. Sometimes weekly. (Hey, he does his best!)