Choosing whether or not to place a client on an hourly rate, a daily rate or to quote them a solid fee will shape the relationship you the ghostwriter are about to have with your client – and ultimately the project itself.
Putting a client on a daily rate will incentivise them to focus in on what it is they are trying to say. This in turn helps you as a ghostwriter interpret what is in their mind. If they are on a comfortable fee that they have already paid (and in their minds – already spent), they are less incentivised to push their focus and communicate across the message specifically. This can generate tension and it will be the writing that suffers. What a shame – and so avoidable.
If your customer is ‘loose’ with their theme, message and the thing that they are trying to explore – I recommend placing them on a daily rate. This will cover your travel expenses, lunch and the time before and after while you’re prepping and reflecting on your meeting – not to mention the six hours of writing you should be doing (tut-tut). In their minds they are paying you money each day and want to get the most out of you, which will help them focus. The job will get done better, faster and an element or urgency will underpin the job – a crucial thing needed between subject and ghostwriter because these projects rely heavily on momentum… and that momentum can be engineered.
Alternatively, the job might be too big, and the subject might be cool as ice bags – in which case, you as a ghostwriter want to pin the proposed work of eight or ten months to a salary. I recommend dividing your quote over three pay instalments: one on signature of contract, one on submission of a chapter breakdown/step outline and a final payment on the submission of the final polish. This will incentivise you to move and keep moving. Don’t be too tempted to be greedy and split your quote over two instalments, this will put enough coal in the fire but you might find yourself running dry on approach to the final hurdle.
Ghostwriting is all about working well with people and designing a pay strategy is therefore a key element in this design. Take into account who they are as people, the work at hand and be sure to lead this discussion. You are the ghostwriter who they are coming to for advice, you are the expert.