I've corresponded with three freelancers in the past week who had questions about bidding on ghostwriting gigs. There's no magic formula to use, but your bid should be based on factors including your experience, the amount of work you're expected to perform, and the client's deadline.
Before I can determine whether a project has merit (at least for me), I need some background information. I ask every potential client the following ten questions:
• What kind of book (or other project) do you have in mind?
• How long will the book be?
• Why do you want to write this book? (Does the client want to attract more business or simply get her memoir in print? Is she expecting to make money from her book?)
• What kind of material do you have for your ghostwriter to use? (Has the client started the book? Does she have an outline or other research/notes I can use as a starting point?)
• What's your deadline?
• Why are you considering using a ghostwriter? Have you worked with one before?
• What kind of publisher do you plan to work with? (Is the client planning to try to sell the book to traditional publisher or use a POD publisher?)
• Who's the audience for your book?
• How do you envision working with a ghostwriter? (In other words, does he want you to do all of the research and writing, or will he be doing some of the writing himself?)
• What budget do you have in mind for this book? (I'm happy to bring up money last, but I always find out what my client's financial expectations before I even consider bidding on a job. I've learned that lesson the hard way.)
With the answers to these ten questions, I know whether I want to pursue the project, first off. I also have enough info to make a sensible bid, based on my expectations of the work involved.
Even in a down economy, the market for ghostwriters is broad and continuing to grow. If you want to know more about how you can break into and thrive in this lucrative field, check out my new book, Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: The Writer's Guide to Making Money Ghostwriting and Coauthoring Books. Or buy the Kindle version.