Do Ghostwriters Get Royalties?

Do Ghostwriters Get Royalties?

For all new clients, I offer a free consultation. This generally requires about an hour, and the two of us discuss the book, its contents, purpose, timeline, and the cost.

One of the questions that potential clients often ask is “can I pay you from the royalties?”

Generally, ghostwriters get paid for the work they do, usually in advance.

There are ghostwriters that accept royalties, but usually this is for a book that is likely to reach bestseller status. Few books will become New York Times bestsellers, meaning they sell tens of thousands of copies within a short period of time.

Most of the books that I get hired to write our intended to be used to build credibility for my client. In this case, selling the books on Amazon or other outlets is secondary to using the book for media exposure, gaining clients, obtaining capital, and so forth. In fact, the amount received from royalties on this type of book is pretty minimal.

Why Don’t Most Ghostwriters Accept Royalties As Payment?

Ghostwriters are contractors. They write your book on a work for hire basis, and they charge by the page, by the word, or by other criteria. Usually, ghostwriters will ask for a down payment, and then get paid as milestones are met in the project. This is all discussed and agreed upon during the initial consultation.

As with anybody who works for a living, it’s not fair to ask ghostwriters to work for free. After all, they have bills to pay and mouths to feed.

Using a traditional publisher, a book and require six months to a year or more from submission to being sold on bookshelves. That’s a long time for a ghostwriter to wait to be paid for the work that they’ve done.

Self published books tend to sell between a few hundred and a thousand copies, assuming they are well marketed and promoted. Again, the ghostwriter would be required to wait until long after the book is written and published to receive those royalties.

Additionally, since your ghostwriter is generally not responsible for marketing and promoting your book, they have no control over how well it sells.

The Bottom Line

The important fact to remember is a ghostwriter is like every other contractor. They need to make a living, and the way they do that is to write a compelling story, either fiction or nonfiction, based on the needs and desires of the client. Writing a book is not easy, and can require months of effort.

Let me ask you this: would you do work today without expecting to be paid for six months? Would you still accept the job if you didn’t have any control over how what you created was sold, promoted and marketed?

Of course, feel free to ask the question of your ghostwriter. If your book is likely to be a bestseller, and your ghostwriter feels strongly about it, they may agree to accept royalties. You certainly can’t lose anything by asking the question – just be aware that more than likely your ghostwriter is going to ask for a down payment and additional payments as the work progresses.

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Richard Lowe Jr

Richard Lowe Jr

Owner & Senior Writer, Copywriter, Ghostwriter, WordPress Implementation at The Writing King
Richard is the Owner and Senior Writer for The Writing King, a bestselling author, and ghostwriter. He's written and published 63 books, ghostwritten 20+ books, as well as hundreds of blog articles.
Richard Lowe Jr


Author of Focus on LinkedIn, Safe Computing, Surviving Disasters, Help! My Boss is Whacko!, Insider Secrets from a Professional Ghostwriter and many others
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Richard Lowe Jr
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