I will be writing an autobiography for someone who is a friend. She and I have agreed that my fee will come exclusively through back end royalties. Yes, I know all the warnings against this, but I have my reasons and I trust her. We have a contract to ensure the project will be finished and produced (likely self published). She has publicity connections that will probably guarantee about 10k books to be sold.
Past that, what percentage of profits should I charge for this? I will be doing all of the writing and most of the research. She will handle publicity. Since I am not being compensated up front, I would assume that I could ask for a higher percentage.
So what should I ask for 25%, 30%, 50%?
Thanks for suggestions about the percentage. Please don't comment about the arrangement, like I said this is a labor of love and I have no problems with it this way. I wouldn't do this for just anyone.
Brian, congratulations on this new ghostwriting project! I have no idea what percentage would be good. But I hope it is a great experience for you, and that they sell a ton of these books!
Is there a minimum amount you *have* to receive to make this worth your while, or is that truly not a factor? If you do have a minimum, you might consider a two-tiered plan, where you cover your minimum based on the 10,000 copies that are guaranteed to be sold, and then charge a percentage on everything sold above that. Just a thought. :)
Thanks Rich. I actually had the same thought. Like 40% for the first 10k and then 30% for 10-50.... Obviously the client would be highly motivated to sell a high percentage of books.
To answer the other question, I am confident that if a product is produced, that I would get reimbursed for my time. Whether a make a boatload is secondary to having a functioning calling card (i.e. the book) out there.
I do have safeguards if the project is never completed and I am at peace if the final product doesn't sell. Commission only baby!!
Brian, oh yeah, you make a great point about having a book you can use as a calling card to get new work.
Sounds like an exciting project. You’ve already said it’s a “labor of love” and I think you’re wise to go into it with that clearly in mind. Fees for ghostwriting vary from about $4000 up to $250,000 if it’s someone who got a big advance. Keep in mind that an author will typically get 15% of the profits from a major publisher. So it sounds like you’re pretty sure she’s going to self-publish this book. I suspect any author would be offended at a suggestion to get 30-50% - I certainly would. That would be unheard of regardless of who ends up publishes it. I would suggest 15% - recognize that you’re doing this as a labor of love, and perhaps to establish you as a proven ghost writer. If the book sells for $15 with a net profit of $10, then if it sells 10,000 copies you’d ultimately get $15,000 for your efforts. That would be very fair for everyone.
Of course, many books like this sell fewer copies than that and thus your fee would be less. But we can all hope for the next The Help or The Shack and you’d end up making $500-600,000 with that arrangement.
I entered a similar "labor of love" arrangement which will also be self-published and we have a 60/40 split, with 40% going to me. But I've agreed to partner on the marketing as well and we are writing another book together down the road.
Wishing you the best on this arrangement, Brian!
You asked us not to comment on the arrangement itself, so I'm biting my tongue very hard!!
But this is actually more of a collaboration agreement then a traditional ghostwriting contract. Professional ghostwriters do not take a percentage on the backend. With that being said, you should get a higher percentage due to the nature of the agreement--which is a partnership. I think the 40% is fair based on this being a marketing work-for-hire agreement at the end of the day. You sound very business savvy, so I'm sure you'll have thought out how/when you'll receive your profits, whether your commission will be on the gross or net. Also, my contract specifies that I am able to use excerpts from the client's book without identifying the client, and/or that they must include me in the acknowledgements. You don't say if this is something you want to do on an ongoing basis, but you need to be able to use the work to land other clients.
Have fun & keep us posted on the success!