Q & A

Maggie Stuckey

How much does it cost?

My experience in this type of work is extensive, and my fee reflects that. It is, unfortunately, not possible to quote precise numbers in a vacuum. I’m happy to talk more about your project, enough for us both to determine whether it’s a good marriage. Contact me here.

Perhaps the best way to answer this question about cost  is to quote this comment from a writers forum I subscribe to. (Note that it is three years old):

On 11/17/2011 5:27 PM, Kathy *** wrote:
A friend who is working on his memoir is looking for a ghost writer, and I don’t have experience in this area. Any recommendations? Any tips on how to find a good match? Any pitfalls to avoid?

[Response] “Does your friend understand that serious ghostwriting generally starts around $25,000 and goes up from there depending on the amount of research needed? Is this a prominent person who believes there’s a market for the book? (If so, the ghostwriter will prepare a book proposal for a fee and may assist in shopping it to literary agents before undertaking the writing project.) Or is this a memoir for friends and family, in which case real ghostwriting may be beyond the friend’s budget?  If your friend isn’t even able to come up with a fairly well fleshed out draft and has to be interviewed at length, then this is going to be an expensive project.”

Maggie Stuckey

Maggie Stuckey

How does the financial arrangement work?

First, let’s do a quick sidestep to introduce some industry terminology. The person who is contracted for the project is the writer; the person whose name is on the cover is the author. In the most common scenario for the financial arrangement , the writer receives a share of the advance that the publisher pays to the author. Typically, that share is 100%, except when negotiated otherwise. Then, the writer may or may not also participate in future royalties, in a proportion that is deemed fair to both parties.

Here’s a formula I often use:

“Maggie will receive X% of the publisher’s advance paid to the author, but in any case not less than $xx,xxx; and thereafter X% of all future earnings from all sources. ” And of course if the advance is less than the floor, then the author makes up the difference.

All this is codified in a formal agreement between author and writer, separate from the contract that the author signs with the publisher. That agreement also spells out, in detail, the responsibilities of both parties, the delivery date and intermediate deadlines, and consequences of failure to meet those deadlines.

In terms of mechanics, if the author is represented by a literary agent, that person handles all the money: receives the advances and all future earnings and distributes them to the two parties as specified by the agreement.  If the author is not so represented, I prepare invoices using an agreed-upon schedule, for which payment is due upon receipt.

Maggie Stuckey

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