Re: Ghostwriting question

Subject: Re: Ghostwriting question
From: Lauren <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2012 13:50:51 -0800

On 2/22/2012 7:05 AM, Matt Gras wrote:

OK - not strictly a tech- writing question -- but I've been approached to ghost-write a book about a failed high-tech startup. Anyone here have any experience ghost-writing books? I'm particularly interested in thoughts about how to (I'm thinking of suggesting that the author record his thoughts, with me transcribing them) and how much (an hourly rate? project rate? a percentage of royalties should there be any?)

A good place to start is with this book,

Having the author "record his thoughts" may seem like a good idea, but it also sounds like asking an SME to write or record instructions about how to use a system (that does not work). Most people write in a way they would understand, but not for their audience. So what may sound good to a non-writing author can sound like gibberish to the audience. You will likely need to conduct lengthy interviews, probably over the phone, preferably in person, when both you and the author are well-rested and ready for a long day.

I would approach this as any other project. Estimate how many hours the project will take and multiply that by my hourly rate to develop a bid. Provide a minimum and maximum number of months to complete the project. The minimum is based on how much time you have to work on the project and the maximum is based on foreseeable contingencies from your end and the potential for a lack of cooperation from the author's end. Provide for some sort of liquidated cost or damages and an escalation clause if the author fails to keep appointments or delays the project. Request a third of the project bid upfront, half in the middle, and half at the end. Provide for additional cost, like a weekly or hourly rate after you have been for the completed work, if the author creates issues during the project that delay the project, but still wants you to complete the project.

You may want to consult with a lawyer for legal advice and for contract writing assistance so that you can protect your legal rights.

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Ghostwriting question: From: Matt Gras

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