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Ghost Writing and Royalties

This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  LoriWidmer February 21, 2014 at 8:53 am.

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    Hey, all.  Newbie with newbie question.

    When you’re ghost writing, under what circumstances would you take a percentage of royalties (and thereby reduce your up-front ghostwriting cost)? W<span style=”line-height: 1.5em;”>hat little business sense I have tells me it would be a bad idea, since the royalties are (knowing the publishing industry) a long shot.  The way I’m looking at it, it would be worth it if I were asked to write the biography of a famous person, but for someone just writing a fiction novel…?

    – Megan


    Jennifer Mattern

    I agree with your instincts on this one. Short of ghostwriting a sure big-seller, I wouldn’t even consider a royalty-based arrangement. There has been a lot in the publishing industry news lately about how few copies most books actually sell. If someone wants you to ghostwrite a novel for them simply because they want a published book to their name, let them pay you up front. Anything else and you put your payment largely in the hands of someone else’s marketing ability. And many, if not most, people suck at marketing. The lower the investment they have up front, the less they have to lose, and the less inclined they’ll be to effectively market that book.

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Owns AllFreelanceWriting.com | Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

    Yo Prinzel
    Yo Prinzel

    I can think of almost no situation in which I’d agree to a share of royalties in place of a writing fee. There are too many variables. Not to mention the time value of money–money today is worth more to you than it will be tomorrow. If you want to create a passive income stream (which is a smart strategy) I think you’d be better off just writing your own books and publishing them instead of tying your cart to someone else’s horse and relying on them to make it happen (say it with Tim Gunn’s voice, please).



    Thanks for the replies! I’m glad my instincts can be trusted 😛
    I had basically the same thought, Yo Prinzel – if I wanted to gamble on a book, I’d gamble on my own.



    Yes, the ladies are correct. If the client offers you royalty sharing in lieu of payment, run the other way. I’ve had plenty of those “offers” in my life. I’ve turned them all down, and wow, to this day none of those books made it to market.

    They need to know going in that your talent and skills come with a price tag.

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