Q1: Are you ready to tell your life story?
Q2: Are you famous?
If the answer to the first question is ‘yes,’ we’re off to a good start! If the answer to the second question is ‘no,’ that’s alright too…
But it probably means you’re going to find it challenging to land a publisher who’ll pay you to write your autobiography. And that means you’re probably looking for the most affordable book ghostwriting services out there.
The good news is that there are plenty of affordable ghostwriting options to choose from. And to prove it, here are my affordable ghostwriting suggestions, including tips about writing your own autobiography, and working with writing mentors and editors:
Watch out for the extras
If you’re looking for an affordable ghostwriting service, make sure you’re not paying for any unexpected extras. I’m not talking about stealthy, underhand add-ons, but perfectly reasonable costs like VAT, and design / print costs.
I suggest you clarify upfront what ghostwriting services you’re paying for.
If your ghostwriter is VAT-registered, do check if the VAT included in their ghostwriting estimate. (Just so you know, I’m not VAT-registered, so there won’t be any unexpected 20% additions to my costs.)
Are you paying for design and print services? Suppose you don’t want design and print services? Can you pay for a manuscript-only service? (See point 6 below.)
Are you paying for a longer word count than you need? Try and establish a plan and a word count for your book at the start of the writing process so that you know you’re paying for the length of book that fits your story.
The do-it-yourself autobiography
If you want to tell your story but you choose not to work with a ghostwriter, you can, of course, write your own autobiography… But you may find that the two big issues that drive many people to work with a ghostwriter remain:
- You still need to find the time to write.
- You still need to get over any perceived shortcomings about your ability to write.
So how do you deal with these issues?
If you got the DIY ghostwriting route, I strongly recommend that you.
- Put a lot of time into planning your book before you start writing. Many people get stuck telling their story because they feel like they can’t get everything out of their head onto the page. A good plan will help you order your thoughts, and give you a chapter-by-chapter guide to work to.
- Consider working with a combination of transcriber, writing mentor, and editor. (I’ll go into more detail on each of them below.) You’ll still have to pay for their services, but because they won’t need to spend as much time working with you as a ghostwriter would, your outlay will be smaller.
Using a transcription service
One of the difficulties of writing your life story is the time it takes to literally write it all out.
You could try dictating your story into your preferred word processing package. The software might feel a bit fiddly at first, but if you want to avoid writing at a keyboard, dictating your life story might save you some time and effort.
Or, you could record your story, and feed the whole file through a dictation application, or use a transcription service. There are lots of transcription services out there, some automated, some in-person.
If you’re going to record your story in this way, you’ll need to be very well prepared before you start speaking. I suggest you start each session with a series of written questions. Spend some time thinking about how you’ll answer your questions before you begin so you can address each one effectively.
One of the big benefits of working with a transcriber is that you won’t have to worry about self-editing what you say. They’ll edit out any umms or errs for you.
What comes back won’t be a perfect manuscript, but with a bit of editing, it can quickly be knocked into shape…
Working with an editor
Editors make books better. It’s really that simple.
With suggestions for structural revisions and changes of emphasis, an editor can reshape your existing manuscript into something more powerful and focused. They can knock things into shape, revise and rewrite problematic bits, and sweep up all the errors as they go.
Read more about how an editor will make your book better.
Working with a writing mentor
You can work with a writing mentor at any stage of the process, and get ongoing help or one-off answers and advice. Here are some examples of how a writing mentor can make writing your autobiography easier.
- If you get a writing mentor involved right at the start they’ll help you streamline your thoughts and plan your book more effectively.
- You can use your writing mentor as a sounding board – send them your latest chapters so they can suggest improvements, different ways of working, and hopefully point out all the things you’re doing well!
- If it’s inspiration you’re looking for, ask your writing mentor to ask you questions that will inspire you to take a fresh take on your life story.
Paying for a writing mentor will save you money on ghostwriting, and it’s a good option for anyone with the burning desire to tell their own story.
A manuscript-only service
If you want to tell your story, but you’re not interested in any extras like design, typesetting or print, one of the most affordable ghostwriting options is a manuscript-only service.
You’ll spend the same amount of time working with your ghostwriter, and they’ll invest the same amount of time in interviewing you and writing your story. The only difference is that not having to pay for design and print services will bring your ghostwriting costs right down.
Take an autobiography writing course
This one is especially tailored to my friends in Nottinghamshire, where I’ll be running an autobiography writing course at the University of Nottingham. (Do please ask me for details if you’re interested in attending.)
Instead of paying an autobiography writer to write your book, you can join the course and pick up all the inspiration and ideas you need to write your own book.
If you’re not in or around Nottingham, there may be suitable alternatives in your neck of the woods. You can learn a lot about writing an autobiography from different kinds of writing class. I always advocate the use of techniques drawn from fiction writing to enliven your story, for example.
Or why not reach out to a local ghostwriter and see if they’d be interested in running a course?
Work with the right ghostwriter
As suggestions go, this one sounds like I’ve pulled it out of the ‘painfully obvious’ file. So let me explain…
If you have aspirations to get your story published, you may need to accept that you’ll pay more for your ghostwriting. Published books tend to be longer, can require more research, and may make more demands of your ghostwriter. They’ll need to factor your requirements into their price calculations. If you’re an un-agented author, they’ll have to make applications to publishers on your behalf – and they’ll need to charge for the time it takes them to do that.
Many of the people who choose to work with me don’t have any aspirations to see their book on the shelves at Waterstones. They simply want to preserve their life story for their friends and family.
Most of those books do not exceed 40,000 words in length and are typically told from a single person’s point of view. Some people choose to have their manuscript typeset, and printed, some opt for a simple PDF document of their story.
So, if you’re looking for more affordable ghostwriting, consider your aspirations for your book. Don’t just tell your ghostwriter what you want, tell them what you don’t want.
You can get the best prices for ghostwrting if you can make your ghostwriter’s life easier
Here are some quickfire tips to help you find the best prices for ghostwriting:
- Request a discount if you pay for your ghostwriting upfront.
- Say that you’re happy to conduct all your interviews in the space of a couple of days. That can be a more efficient, and more cost-effective way of working, and could be worth a discount.
- Do as much preparatory work as possible so you can give your ghostwriter very clear direction about the scope of your story. If your ghost has a clear sense of exactly what you want, they’re going to give you the best price for the work.
- Refer your ghostwriter to anyone else who wants to tell their story. That could be worth a nice referral fee.
- Negotiate a pricing plan if that makes it easier for you to pay for your ghostwriter.
Affordable book ghostwriting services
‘Affordable’ is a relative term, but I try my hardest to price my book ghostwriting services in such a way that they’re affordable to as many people as possible. To get things started, get in touch to arrange a half hour book chat so I can find out what kind of book you want.