A few months ago, a client for whom I'd ghostwritten a book contacted me with an offer to write the next three books in his serial. This client had proven a challenge to educate as to what is and is not involved in ghostwriting. He wanted to negotiate a lower, bulk rate under contract for the next three books.
My rate had increased since signing the contract for the first book. I declined and responded with a counteroffer to write the second book in the serial at the same rate as the first, but stated the third and fourth books would be negotiated at the then-current rate if he wished me to ghostwrite them. He expressed concern at my unwillingness to "add value" and accept a lower overall per-word rate.
Truthfully, I thought I'd heard the last from him.
Surprise! Last week he contacted me, stating he wanted me to write the next installment. He offered a compliment: "The reviews for Volume One have been positive, so I feel good about completing the story." I went to the book's page on Amazon and read the reviews: really they're quite flattering and complimentary of the writing. Then he lowered the boom: "I can only pay you in $100 installments every 2 weeks. Instead of stopping work, I would like for you to work on the chapters back to back and just retain ownership of the writing until I have paid off the balance."
Okay, I replied, we can do that. I would retain ownership of the content until the project fee was paid in full. Only then would he receive delivery of the document and transfer of the copyright. I also specified the limits of service: drafting, one round of revision, and a final round of review and approval. After approval, my obligation is finished. Any errors or issues with the content are then his problem, not mine. I drafted a new contract and sent it to him.
This morning he wanted to lower the overall fee: "I have few chapters that are close to completion that would just need some editing and proofreading service. Can we negotiate a flat fee for this?" Again, I declined. His writing style does not match mine, and editing will not mesh them into a cohesive narrative. Readers will notice the egregious and glaring difference between his prose and mine. If he wants me to write the story, then I write the entire story. Besides, if the client writes well, why hire a ghostwriter?
I am quickly reaching the limits of my patience. Let me say this one more time: when you hire a consultant or freelancer, you do so because you have confidence in that person's expertise to perform a task that you either have not the skill or time to do yourself. Respect that contractor's expertise. A little respect goes a long way.
In other words, if a contractor doesn't value the service he or she provides, then clients most certainly won't. Hold your ground, assert your value, and don't accept insulting offers.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
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