When I started my freelance writing business in 2011, my first project paid $1.67/hour.
Eight years later, I regularly close $50,000, $75,000, even $100,000 ghostwriting deals.
That wasn’t by accident. Or luck. Or even a natural sequence of events where I incrementally improved my writing skills, slowly raised my rands, or quietly booked better authors who respected me an eensy-weensy bit more than the last client.
Wanna know how I know?
I recently checked out an experienced ghostwriter’s profile on Upwork. Back in the early 2010s, we started right outside the same place. Look at this:
Years later, look where they still are…charging a few hundred bucks.
I’m probably not a “better” ghostwriter than this person. But I did take a better ghostwriting path.
While ghostwriters like these toil away for years, barely increasing their rates and the quality of clients they get…
You could be over here taking a great leap forward. Making a breakthrough. Landing a moonshot.
Whatever you want to call it, it beats spending evenings and weekends earning ghostwriting rates orders of magnitude less than minimum wage.
So I want to ask you something. Look at the graph below—which story do you want to tell?
The sooner you learn how to find authors with bigger bank accounts
Offer irresistible ghostwriting packages
Build a team of trusted publishing professionals
Structure long-term deals to keep clients with you for months at a time
The sooner you will
Earn the ghostwriting rates you deserve
Win the respect from authors you deserve
And build the sustainable, predictable business your family deserves
I recently did a video about this sleazy new way to rip off authors.
Side note—as trusted publishing industry professionals, it’s our job to warn aspiring authors about the predators lurking about, who pounce on unsuspecting writers and gobble up their budget until they’re left with an unreadable first draft and now hope to ever get published.
So what’s the Great Ghostwriting Scam?
I only heard about it because three different authors told me about it within one week (all three are now clients, BTW). The scam works like this:
Accomplished Ghostwriter offers services to Aspiring Author for huge-ass price.
Aspiring Author is impressed with Accomplished Ghostwriter’s accomplishments and hires them, paying 50 percent of the project upfront.
Accomplished Ghostwriter cashes the check.
“Oh, ack-shully, you’ll be working with a Junior Ghostwriter in my agency,” Accomplished Ghostwriter tells Aspiring Author.
Bait and switch complete. The Junior Ghostwriter can barely string two sentences together to save their life and gets paid pennies for their work. Meanwhile, Accomplished Ghostwriter keeps most of the fee.
Aspiring Author is livid—as they should be!
I tell you about the Great Ghostwriting Scam to illustrate what dropservicing is NOT all about.
Unlike the Great Ghostwriting Scam, when you go from a freelance ghostwriting solo act to a team of trusted professionals, you are being open and honest with your clients.
You’re telling them you have people who work with you to reformat the manuscript for publication, who produce the audiobook, who design the cover, who create all the book launch materials.
As you know, a PDF manuscript you ghostwrote for a client doesn’t do them much good. But if you pull together a book production team that includes a book formatter, book designer, book marketer, a company like themarketingheaven.com to do the promotion, and others, you’re now offering clients everything they need to make money off their book.
Writing is not the end result, it’s a stop in the chain. Do one thing, get paid for one thing. Do everything, get paid everything.
Plus, most clients know how to write, so they don’t see your skills as being way above theirs, they see you as someone to outsource or delegate to. But when your clients hire you to build them an independent publishing business, you’re demonstrating way more expertise than they have which, again, increases your value.
And the best part is, you don’t have to introduce your client to every single person on your team! In fact, they probably don’t care—they just want to know they’re going to get an amazing literary product they can use to get speaking engagements, book media interviews, and convert new readers into repeat customers when all is said and done.
Dropservicing is the only ghostwriting business model that allows you to do this.
And I’m going to show you how I do it.
How I went from $1.67/hour solo freelance writer to $500,000/year professional ghostwriter without giving up what I do best—ghostwriting!
How I close $50,000 ghostwriting gigs with authors who’d only planned to spend $5,000 on a ghostwriter—and get them feeling like they got a deal.
How I take authors from vague book idea all the way through the authorship journey to a manuscript masterpiece available in over 100 countries in print, digital, and audio.
How I run multiple book projects at a time without killing my free time so I can serve every client while playing with my son.
How I guarantee highest quality work to clients even when someone else is doing it (like designing book covers).
All you have to do is schedule your complimentary Big Money Ghostwriting Roadmap call. In just 60 minutes of 1:1 time, we’ll transform your ghostwriting business into a magnet for authors with deep pockets.
“How am I supposed to get more clients when I can’t tell people that I even have clients?! Confidentiality agreements suck!!1!”
So a freelance copywriter turned pro ghostwriter asked me.
If you’re like most ghostwriters, you have no friggin’ clue what to say if an aspiring author asks you:
“Who are some people you’ve ghostwritten for? Can I see their books?”
I don’t want you to get stuck in that situation. The good news is, you don’t have to be.
Take me, for example. I’ve ghostwritten 40+ books since 2011 for everyone from A-list celebrities and household name entrepreneurs to the great-grandmas who want to tell posterity what it was like to grow up during the war.
Yes, I do have a ton of confidentiality agreements in place.
But—but—but—Joshua!!1! You said it’s a myth that ghostwriters have to sign NDAs!!1!
True. But I don’t have such agreements in place with all authors. Thankfully, working with a ghostwriter to finish your book is fast losing its stigma. Many authors—even the famous ones—aren’t so bashful about who they hire to write for them.
That gives you—and me—an opening. So let me tell you how I approach the question of NDAs, confidentiality, and proof of previous clients.
First, put yourself in your future client’s shoes. What do they want from the ghostwriter they hire? The no-holds-barred, no-secrets-kept dossier of your previous work?
Nope. All they want is assurance that you, their ghostwriter, know what the heck you’re doing—and that you’ll do whatever it takes to make their literary dreams come true.
That’s why when I talk to new aspiring authors, I share results of previous projects. Not simply the names of authors I don’t have confidentiality agreements with. Results.
What does “sharing results” look like? A couple different things. First of all, I create “Author Success Story” case study videos about authors whose books established the author’s authority, created new opportunities for their business, and produced return on investment.
(f you want a copy of one of my Author Success Stories to look at, reply to this email, and we’ll set up a call to go over it together.)
Doesn’t matter if my prospects have heard of my previous authors or not. In fact, lack of name recognition can be a blessing!
Think about it—if you hear about a little-known author who made $1,000,000 from book sales and author upsells, what does that make you believe is possible?
I can make my money back—and then some—if I work with this ghostwriter.
Powerful psychology of persuasion right there.
I also make sure every potential author client knows the “how.” That is, how I wrote emotionally compelling manuscripts for previous clients and how I strategized their book launch to make as much money as possible from the book.
Why should you get this message across to clients? Because knowing how you got someone else results shows you didn’t make a lucky guess. There’s nothing worse than hiring a one-hit wonder ghostwriter whose work isn’t worth its weight in cassette tapes!
In short, big money ghostwriting clients want assurance from you that you know what you’re doing. If you’re able to avoid signing an NDA for even just two or three clients (totally doable), then do your darndest to make their projects “a gold standard” that every new client can look up to.
From now on, aspiring authors will trust you.
From now on, aspiring authors will believe you can write like you say you can.
And from now on, aspiring authors will be happy to write you big money checks.
All because you’re going to help them create a profitable asset, not an ego-boosting expense.
And if any author presses you on signing a confidentiality agreement you don’t want to sign, use this handy-dandy little script:
The way that I work with many authors is to have an NDA in place which safeguards any and all confidential information you share during the project. I often do not keep our relationship itself confidential; this is common practice amongst ghostwriters in business and related genres, whose companies thrive via word of mouth marketing as the book is widely shared, read, and enjoyed. Some of my authors mention me in the Acknowledgements section of the book itself, others leave my name out—that’s your prerogative.
In tomorrow’s email, we work our way back to dropservicing.
I’m going to show you how to build a team of trusted professionals to support your authors’ dreams, justify 10X higher ghostwriting writes, and produce profitable books that get your authors telling everyone they know about you.
Because my clients send me testimonial videos to publish on my website and YouTube channel, I’ve literally automated word of mouth marketing. It’s 24/7/365 lead generation for me, and I didn’t have to do a darn thing.
Except give my authors a book that made money from day one.
In tomorrow’s email, I’ll show you how I do it.
And how I charge $35,000 to $100,000 for book projects while “good” ghostwriters get a few hundred bucks on Upwork.
Don’t miss the fun.
Cheers and beers,
” The World’s Only Award-Winning, Celebrity-Recommended #1 International Bestselling Certified Professional Ghostwriter “
P.S. Are you a ghostwriter? Click here to book your complimentary session where you’ll learn the Big Money Ghostwriting Roadmap to 10X your rates today.
Yet what do you see all day long in your inbox, on podcasts, and in your newsfeed?
“Niche down…Specialize…Be the absolute best at one thing…”
Feels right, doesn’t it? A client brings you their book project, you expertly ghostwrite the manuscript, line edit the thing to triple-checked perfection, and cash your check.
What’s wrong with that picture?
It’s deeply unfair.
Not to you—to your client.
Think about it. The client pays you $25,000, $50,000, even $75,000 for a Word document. Not a published book. Not a revenue-generating product. Not a brand-building, credibility-establishing, door-opening asset for their business. A Word document.
Maybe you don’t see a problem with this. After all, you have “experience.” “Expertise.” “Skills.” But what does all that give your client? A manuscript. One that sits in their inbox collecting digital spiderwebs. It’s not selling copies. It’s not creating opportunities. Not doing jabberwocky for your client. Meanwhile, you wish them the best of luck and head off to look for the next author.
Put yourself in your author’s shoes. How do you feel? You’ve forked over the cost of a brand-new Tesla and you have nothing beyond a .docx file to show for it.
Maybe this is why most authors you’ve talked to “already have a budget in mind” when you first talk to them…and it’s an entire decimal point off your rates.
You: “To ghostwrite a 50,000 word manuscript, my fee is $20,000.”
Client: “Oh. Wow. Um…I was thinking Ghostwriters cost $5,000. Some guy on Upwork was even charging $2,000.”
Why doesn’t the client see your value? Why won’t clients pay you what you’re worth? Could it be because an unpublished Word document isn’t that valuable—on its own?
What if you stopped calling yourself “Ghostwriter” and started calling yourself “Ghostwriter & Publishing Professional”?
What if you could stop hunting for “ideal clients” in a haystack? What if a “cheap” client’s wallet suddenly opened up because you offered them something more tangible? Something that all but guaranteed return on their investment in you?
What if you got on the phone with an author and instead of saying, “Whew, that’s a little pricey,” they said, “Wow, you do all that for me?! Not just write my book but help me market and promote my book so it does something for me? Sign me up!”
Pretty cool, huh? Being an author’s one-stop-shop for everything about their book?
Except you live in reality. You are, after all, a Ghostwriter. Maybe you don’t know how to reformat a book. Or produce an audiobook. Or book an author on Good Morning America.
I have good news. You don’t have to know all those things.
Wait…then who’s doing all this book publishing and marketing stuff? Not me! I want to write books!
Fair enough. Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of dropservicing.
Remember the last thing you ordered on Amazon? Just because you bought that wooden pen set from a highly rated Amazon seller doesn’t mean that seller personally sourced, packaged, and shipped the pens to you. They used a business model called dropshipping—you bought the pens, the seller forwarded your order to a third-party pen wholesaler, and the wholesaler shipped you the pens. Yet the pens’ package matched the brand of the seller’s Amazon store, so you had no idea the pens came from somewhereselse!
What does any of this have to do with going from $5,000 ghostwriting projects to $50,000 big money clients?
By offering your clients more than a Word document, you’re offering them way more value—value worth paying for. Instead of buying a professionally ghostwritten manuscript from you, your clients are literally buying a business from you. How so? Well, they’re buying a book that’s available for sale worldwide, and you’re helping them market the thing behind the scenes. Product, logistics, fulfillment. Yep, that’s a business!
In short, by collaborating with book formatters, freelance book marketers, audiobook producers, et al. (and fitting that into what you charge your author) you 10X your value in your clients’ eyes. All you have to do is act as the project manager, and watch the $$$ roll in.
Feels risky though, right? After all, you can’t guarantee results. It’s your author’s book, not yours. And it’s their audience, not yours.
Dropservicing is the safest business model a Ghostwriter can use. It’s the lowest-risk, highest-reward service you can possibly sell.
Want to know why?
Keep your eyes peeled on your inbox.
This week I’m going to let you know how you can go from pumping out manuscripts to partnering with people you trust to offer a dropservicing package in the ghostwriting world so you can go from charging $2,000 to $20,000, $50,000, or higher for your book without taking on the brunt of the workload.
Why would anyone pay me $100,000 to ghostwrite a book? Much less $50,000 or even $25,000!
Been there, thought that, friend? Yep, me too. Every Ghostwriter questions their own abilities in the dark crannies of our writer’s blocked brains.
But is it true?
Are you good enough to make a living as a Ghostwriter?
Attract big name clients?
Earn the big bucks without ever having to “prove yourself” to a client first?
I bet you are. Here’s how I know.
Ever heard of Nassim Nicholas Taleb?
He’s authored several New York Times bestsellers including The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, described by The Sunday Times “one of the most influential books since World War II.”
Why does that matter?
Because Nassim is a foremost expert on writing, publishing, and marketing books.
If you’re worried that your ghostwriting work is not up to Big Five publisher snuff, Nassim has a few words for you:
Nassim’s point? Even publishing houses can’t tell “good” writing from “bad” writing. That explains why 99 percent of traditionally published book lose money (Forbes)! Literary agents and acquisitions editors have a 1 percent chance of picking a winning book.
With so many independent publishing paths available to entrepreneurial authors—AKA people who want you to write a book that makes money—why worry what the ivory tower types think? Legendary author Nassim Taleb doesn’t give a hoot? Why should you?
This brings us to what your job is as a Ghostwriter. And what it isn’t.
It’s your job to ghostwrite a book your author loves.
It’s your job to ghostwrite a book that makes your author feel heard. Seen. Special.
It’s your job to ghostwrite a book that entertains, delights, and persuades readers.
It’s your job to ghostwrite a book that your author can’t wait to promote.
It’s your job to ghostwrite a book that opens doors for your author’s brand, business, or career.
It’s your job to ghostwrite a book that brings tears to your author’s eye and a smile to their face—at the same damn time.
It’s not your job to impress an agent who would never represent you client anyway.
It’s not your job to get your client a publishing deal with a house that treats your work like trash.
And it’s not your job to ghostwrite a “perfect” book that everyone loves.
To paraphrase the much-beloved, oft-beguiled internet celebrity Ash Ambirge, if you’re not pissing off half your readers, your book isn’t any good.
Screw third-party opinions. If Person X isn’t buying your author’s book, don’t give a rotten pineapple core what Person X thinks about your ghostwriting talent—or your author’s book.
No, you don’t have to be “this good” to make the big bucks as a professional Ghostwriter.
Your future clients will pay you, $25,000, $50,000, and more because you get them.
Because you’re writing the best version of their book.
And because your book is doing something for them—persuading minds, changing hearts, opening wallets.
Curious how I ghostwrite books that do all that and more for my clients?
In my next email, I’m going to show you how to ghostwrite a book that turns a $15 purchase into $1,500 worth of revenue for your client.
Happy client = More referrals = Tighter schedule = Higher rates = Happier you
A sense of accomplishment? Pride in the author’s story? A box checked off the ole bucket list?
Think about these results of authorship in financial terms. What are these worth to a person?
You get a feeling of accomplishment mowing your lawn. I can mow half an acre on a tank of gas, so that costs me two or three bucks. Get that dopamine hit every week from spring through fall, and you’re looking at no more than a couple hundred bucks.
You take pride in a funny meme you came up with that went semi-viral. Took ten minutes to create. Free.
What about the bucket list? The #1 most common bucket list objective is to visit the great Egyptian pyramids. Roundtrip airfare plus Cairo accommodations for two—$2,600 on Expedia.com.
You see the point, don’t you? For $25,000, $50,000, even $100,000+ to hire a Ghostwriter like you, your clients could receive:
Or they could spend less than $3,000 and enjoy:
Let’s be honest. What’s the better deal?
Which would you rather do? Buy a Word document (a manuscript) that you may not have the first clue how to publish, promote, and profit…
Or take your romantic partner on the all-inclusive trip of a lifetime to the last Wonder of the World?
I sure as heck know which I would choose!
This brings us to what authors expect of Professional Ghostwriter like you and I. If authors are only expecting intangible feel-goods like pride of authorship, we both know they won’t expect to pay very much.
Because it’s not worth it.
If you can enjoy a similar thrill for $2,600 or $26,000, which will you choose? Even for wealthy clients, money is still a scarce resource.
What if your author clients expected way more than an emotional, intangible return on their investment?
What if you built up so much value around having a book that a client saw a $26,000 book as a deal?
Yes, it’s totally possible! Here’s why (and how)…
You caught the alliteration a few paragraphs ago, didn’t you?
Publish, promote, profit.
There’s a reason why—when you’re transforming an aspiring author into a published author, they get a lot more than pride in their work.
They get a book that wins sales calls, paid speaking gigs, investors, media interviews, and more.
Not to mention they get to sell a whole lotta books! If you help your author independently publish their book and promote it like a New York Times bestseller, what’s going to happen?
Your author earns anywhere from $3 to $10 per copy. Times that by a thousand book sales. Ten thousand even. If your author is even semi-well-known in their industry (previous publications, interviews completed, email subscribers, etc.), they can easily earn $10,000 or more just like that. I have clients do this all the time!
Plus, what happens when just a few dozen potential clients or event organizers buy your author’s book? They are so freaking impressed with your work that they have to hire the author. Cha-ching!
In this scenario where you are providing your client a beautiful, professional book, directly helping them publish independently, and supporting book promotion efforts, you are printing money for your clients.
But you can’t sell a .docx or .pdf file can you? If all you are to your author is “my writer who sends me a Word file at the end,” what are your services worth?
Not a trip to Cairo for one!
Am I saying that Ghostwriters who deliver an unpublished manuscript to their clients and say Tchau! Deserve to get paid peanuts for their work?
Because it’s not a good trade-off. Would you spend $75,000 on a Tesla? Maybe. At least the machine does something for you. A .docx file in your inbox doesn’t do jackdiddledumsquat if you don’t already have a literary agent or book deal. And what percentage of aspiring authors fit that description? 0.000001 percent?
So what do you want to get paid to write a book?
$3,000 or $30,000?
What you earn from your work is based on what you sell. Sell intangible benefits that aspiring authors can fulfill another, cheaper, even faster way, and you won’t earn much.
But sell a money-making asset—AKA a ghostwritten, published, promoted, profitable book—and you my friend will be the one who profits.
Want to know how I do this with my clients and earned over $136,000 on a recent ghostwriting project?
In my next email, I’m going to hand you my entire business model for winning high 5-figure and even 6-figure ghostwriting clients.
The “official steps” to Freelance Ghostwriting Success go a little something like this:
Build your portfolio.
Send potential clients your portfolio.
If you’ve read any freelance writing articles recently, you got some version of that advice. In theory, it makes sense.
But what if sharing your portfolio with potential ghostwriting clients actually turns them away?
I learned that the hardest way you can imagine. In my early days as a ghostwriter, whenever I’d hear from an aspiring author looking for help, what did I say?
“Here’s a link to my portfolio so you can view some of my previous projects.”
You know what’s strange? Only a few authors asked for my portfolio. Most didn’t. But that didn’t matter to me — the articles told me to send my portfolio, so by golly I did!
Here’s what happened:
No messages back.
No replies to my follow up emails or follow-ups to the follow-ups.
One day, I sent my portfolio to an author while we were on the phone together. You know what he said right then and there?
“Interesting. You can write, but I don’t like your style. I’ll talk to other writers and get back with you.”
“Well, ack-shully,” I jumped in, “I was writing in my client’s style. I’m a ghostwriter. That’s what I do. If you look through my portfolio, you’ll see every sample has a different tone and feel.”
“Yeah, I don’t like those styles either. Maybe I should finish my book myself. That’s what my friends are telling me anyway. I don’t want my book reading like somebody else wrote it.”
This happened for YEARS. Authors reached out to me for help, took one look at my portfolio, and fell off the face of the earth. And I had no clue why.
Not until I got on a live video call with an aspiring author (whose project was PERFECT for me), and he asked an altogether different question.
“Can you tell me about any past client successes?”
“Oh. Well, I have a portfolio I can send — ”
“No, I don’t need to see a portfolio,” he said. “What I mean is — have your clients been happy with their books? Did they sell well? Once the book was done, what did they do with it?”
That conversation changed everything.
I realized that authors who make the best clients care about the results of THEIR book project, rather than what you’ve written for other people in the past. The fact they’re even having a conversation with you means they assume you’re a competent communicator! Sharing what you wrote for somebody else will only change their mind.
From that day forward, I’ve collected testimonials from every author I could. Since many clients don’t expect you to sign an NDA or confidentiality agreement, you can share the results they got from their book!
(Oh, you thought every professional ghostwriter is supposed to sign an NDA with every client? Another deal-killing myth!)
From now on, how much of a difference would it make if we stopped sending our portfolio and started showing testimonials? If we started putting a client quote in our email footer, on our LinkedIn profile, on our website…everywhere! And when our next potential ghostwriting client asks us for writing samples, we give them something better — third-party social proof that other authors got a return on their investment in your services.
IMPORTANT: Earnings and Legal Disclaimers
Earnings and income representations made by Joshua Lisec, ghostwriteandprosper.com, and their advertisers/sponsors (collectively, “Joshua Lisec Programs”) are aspirational statements only of your earnings potential. The success of Joshua Lisec, testimonials, and other examples used are exceptional, non-typical results, and are not intended to be and are not a guarantee that you or others will achieve the same results. Individual results will always vary and yours will depend entirely on your individual capacity, work ethic, business skills and experience, level of motivation, diligence in applying the Joshua Lisec Programs, the economy, the normal and unforeseen risks of doing business, and other factors.
The Joshua Lisec Programs, and Joshua Lisec individually, are not responsible for your actions. You are solely responsible for your own moves and decisions and the evaluation and use of our products and services should be based on your own due diligence. You agree that the Joshua Lisec Programs are not liable to you in any way for your results in using our products and services.