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Monday, May 29, 2017

Know Your Worth...and Stand Your Ground

What's your ideal freelance work mix? For me, it's to be working on a book for a ghostwriting client with a mix of shorter content (mostly health and fitness) for corporations and content agencies thrown in as well.

Of course we can't always have our ideal. At the moment, my work funnel is nearly empty. (That means the coming week's priorities are marketing, marketing, and marketing.) Part of the issue is that I've had several potential book projects die on the vine. So I was excited to learn about a possible gig. It's the type of ghostwriting I do; I like the potential client; this particular book has lots of potential; and my calendar is looking empty at the moment.


What's being offered, and what I charge to ghostwrite a book proposal--at the moment at least--are way too far apart to go forward. And I'm frustrated. I'd love the project, and I know I'm a good fit for it. And did I mention that work funnelI?

As a new freelancer, I would probably just sucked it up and taken the gig. But that's not how I work today.

Here's a look at my thought process:

1. I know what I charge for a book proposal--typically between $5,000 and $8,000 (though I've charged as much as $15,000 for one that grew to 100+ pages and took more than six months to write).

2. I know what a well-written book proposal is worth. (At least to the clients I work for.) And that, not surprisingly, is between $5,000 and $8,000. See how that works out?

3. The potential client has tried, and can't write the proposal on his or her own. Which means the client has to hire a ghost to make the book go forward.

4. I know from reviewing the material that it will take some time and work (probably four to six weeks) to create a compelling, giant-advance-grabbing book proposal. And while I'm willing to make that happen, that stretch of time means I can't take on another proposal or any other big projects. That's opportunity cost, which is factored into deciding whether to take on a big project.

5. Finally, and just as important, what I do as a ghost (and what we all do as freelancers) has value. If a potential client doesn't value the work I do, that doesn't set the stage for mutual respect and a positive working relationship. And when you ghostwrite a book for a client, those elements are essential.

Sure, it's hard to turn down work, especially when there's backend potential. But as a freelancer, you have to know your value, and be willing to say "no" if you and your client can't agree on it.

So if you're a new freelancer, think about what you charge. Know your bottom line--and know why that's your bottom line. Be prepared to back it up. It will make you a better negotiator, and help you make more money in the meantime.

**New to the blog? Welcome! If you're serious about making your freelance writing business a money-maker, I suggest my freelance classic, Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition

If you're more interested in getting into ghostwriting and content marketing, I suggest Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition

If you're brand-new to freelancing, Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets walks you through the process of launching your freelance career

Finally, if you like your books full of shorter pieces, check out a different format--Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success is divided into five broad sections to help you make more money regardless of what kind of nonfiction writing you do. 

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