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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How to Say "No" to a Client You Don't Want to Work For

I've found that as a ghostwriter, I get a lot of leads that don't lead to actual work. Last week, I spoke with a potential ghostwriting client by phone. He had been referred to me by another freelancer, a friend of mine who doesn't ghostwrite books. We connected via email, and I asked him my standard list of questions I send to potential clients, which include: 

  • Do you plan to try to sell your book to a traditional publisher, or will you be using a print-on-demand company? Do you understand the pros and cons of working with each? 
  • What’s your purpose in writing the book? 
  • Who’s the audience for your book? Do you plan to sell your book, and if so, why will readers want to buy it? 
  • What’s your timeline? 
  • What’s your budget? (Ghostwriting an entire book typically costs $35,000+ depending on the length, scope of the project, author involvement, and other factors. If you have a manuscript or material already written that needs reworking or editing, we can discuss an appropriate fee.)
  • Do you have material for your ghostwriter to use (such as the beginning of a book, an outline, some chapters), or will your ghostwriter work with you to create the book from scratch? 
  • What’s your biggest hope for your book? What’s your biggest fear about writing a book?
The potential client didn't mention his budget (he said it was flexible) but it become clear during our brief call that he couldn't afford me. So I gave him suggestions about how to find a local ghostwriter who would be willing to charge less than I do, wished him all the best with his project, and thanked him for his time. 

I've written here before about the importance of knowing your rates, and knowing how much (or how little) you're willing to charge for different types of work. But there is an art to saying no. There's nothing to be gained by being rude or dismissive; I'd rather have him think of me for other possible projects, or if he knows someone else who may hire a ghostwriter in the future.

The lesson? While I don't waste time with someone who I know can't afford me, I do make an effort to help the person who contacted me. Even a brief call can lead to a referral that turns into work. Keep that in mind the next time you say "no" to someone. 

**Want to know more about how make money as a ghostwriter? Check out Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks, Second Edition: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs, and More, called the "comprehensive guide for getting started as a ghostwriter."  

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