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Monday, January 17, 2011

A Month of Templates: The Project Bid, Take Two

Last post, I shared a simple project bid. In general, though, the bigger the project, the more detail I provide my potential client. I never just give a quote--I want the client to understand exactly what I'm going to provide him and the benefits to him of what I'll write. That will hopefully motivate him to hire me!

Here's a project bid I sent a client for a ghosting project; my comments are in blue:


First, thanks so much for getting in touch with me earlier this week. I'm really excited about your book concept and the possibility of us working together. I think you have a lot of good ideas, and also feel that I can bring a lot to both the proposal and the book itself. (Oh, and thanks for sending the research you sent last night—I read through it and there's a lot of good stuff there as well.) [A little enthusiasm never hurts, especially when it's genuine. And I like to start my bid off on a positive note.]

The seeds for the book are there. There's still much to do, however. Working together, we need to come up with a title and subtitle; an overview; the "hook" (i.e., what makes this book different from everything else out there); competitive analysis (a rundown on the book's likely biggest competitors and how it's different than/better than the other titles, which relates to the hook); the audience (is it all career-oriented busy people, or more aimed at women or men, for example); marketing/promotion (again, you've got a platform already but we really want to showcase this in the proposal); about the author(s) (depending on whether you want to include me as coauthor in the proposal—I think that's a selling point but that's your call); the overall structure (i.e., total number of chapters, pages, appendices, and the like); the chapter summaries; and one well-written sample chapter of approximately 15 to 20 pages. The total proposal will come in at 30-40 pages. [Holy cow! That's a lot of work I'm signing up for, isn't it? That's the point I'm making--that a book proposal is a big project. I'm getting her ready for me to actually talk money.]

Sound like a lot? It is. But the end product—the finished proposal will be worth it. I'm assuming that you're willing to do some of the research and work with me on the sample chapter and overview in particular; that will save me some time. As I told you yesterday, I typically charge $5000 to $10,000 for a proposal, but considering the subject matter and the level of your involvement writing- and research-wise, my fee will be $4,500. This includes all of the elements of the proposal including one sample chapter, to be delivered within four to six weeks (at a date we agree on.) I'd like $2,000 on going forward/signing a collaboration agreement (see below); $1,000 upon delivery of the draft proposal (without the sample chapter): and $1,500 upon delivery of the finished proposal with the sample chapter. [Here I've made my bid, asked for a retainer, and explained what I'm basing it on.]

With the polished, finished proposal in hand, you'll be ready to pitch agents and editors—and you'll have the framework for the book completed which makes the actual writing of it easier. I know you want to use the book to take the next step in your career, but I also think you have a saleable idea, a strong platform, and the dedication to see the project through—all of which is necessary to succeed as a book author! [Reminding the client of the benefits to her of hiring me always helps "close" the deal. Imagine if this paragraph was missing--my bid wouldn't be nearly as compelling.]

Another thing to consider is whether you want to sign a formal collaboration agreement that sets out our expectations for working together. We can sign one for the proposal itself, or for a potential book deal, or work something out that you're comfortable with. I can send you a sample one that you can tweak/modify how you see fit. [I'm letting her know I will want something in writing...if she balks at that, it's a red flag.]

What else? I think we've got a good rapport, and I'm reliable, professional, and easy to work with. If I tell you I'm going to do something, you can count on me to get it done. I love collaborating with smart people to get their ideas in print, and helping them become book authors. [Is this paragraph necessary? Not really...but it lets her know more about me and my attitude. And truth be told, I only want to work with smart people! :)]

Please let me know if you have any questions about my bid or the project—I hope we’ll have the chance to work together! If this is a go, I can make your proposal my first priority, and I think you (and hopefully a wonderful agent and editor as well) will be delighted with the finished product. Let me know if you're ready to take the next step. [Pretty standard close, but note my promise to her--I will make her happy. And I did!]

All good things,

The lesson? Don't just give a bid. Tell your potential client what you'll do and how it will benefit him, and you're much more likely to sign him. And if you're interested in learning more about ghostwriting, please check out my new book, Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: The Writer's Guide to Making Money Ghostwriting and Coauthoring Books. Marcia Layton Turner, founder and executive director of the Association of Ghostwriters, calls it "the comprehensive guide to becoming a ghostwriter."


  1. Kelly, this is very, very impressive! I'm going to remember this if I'm ever asked to bid on a ghostwriting project -- or really, even a copywriting project (which I've been doing more of lately). Love it!

  2. Thanks, Linda! It's basically the same idea as copywriting in that you make sure to talk about the *benefits* to the reader, not just the features of the product or service. Makes me realize I need to tweet this! :)