• Amanda Clemmer

Word, Hour, and Project Rates: Advanced Author Tactics


If you work as a ghostwriter or content writer, editor, or another writing-related occupation, you’re probably familiar with the idea of standard per-word and per-hour rates. These rates vary both on your experience and qualifications and on the exact job you’re doing.

Ghostwriting has many parallels to writing fiction and has comparable rates. Like all professional writing jobs, some ghostwriting gigs pay significantly more. An author with some qualifications but who is starting out could confidently charge 4¢ per word or $50 per hour, or about $10,000 per project.

That might sound like a lot. How well does it actually translate to self-publishing rates?


First, it proves your worth as a writer. You don’t have to feel guilty about charging people to pay for your books, and if you’ve spent a lot of time and effort creating something worth reading, you’ve earned a check.

Second, knowing the rates gives you an idea of how well your own earnings match up. Even planning and brainstorming a new idea should be taken into account for an hourly rate, since the work that goes into writing a novel is so much more than the actual typing itself.

Lastly, a good understanding of an hourly rate can help you to think more professionally about your books and set more effective goals. $10,000 per book might sound like a lot at first, but many full-time authors earn comparable amounts.

So what if you’re not there yet?

There’s no shame in starting small. Unlike other professional writing jobs, self-publishing fiction usually takes several years to build a base and get an initial following started. If you’re just getting started, you will almost certainly spend more than you earn on publishing for several years regardless how many steps you take to experience success. Focus on making initial sales and automating the readership that you do have so that every book can be a better success than the books before it.


If you’ve been publishing for a while and aren’t seeing numbers like I listed above, there could be a number of reasons. Earning a lot with self-publishing involves spending a lot as well, and if you haven’t paid for a professional cover or editing job, it’s a good idea to invest in creating better-quality books. You might also want to check out your keywords or your newsletters to make sure your readers can find you easily.

Calculating your earning goals

Content writing is one and done. You do the job, get paid, and find the next job. When you publish your own books, you’re never entirely done with them. You never know when a new fan might discover a book you wrote years ago and then binge on the entire series. With self-publishing, you can profit from the same books over and over again, and their value grows over time.

When it comes to calculating your own income goals, you can start as small as you want. Even just a few dollars is a lot if it’s only your first or second book, and you can scale up as needed. The sky’s the limit!

As always, please share your own thoughts, metrics and experiences in the comment section below. You can also click the blue button to visit my group for self-publishing fiction writers on Facebook for further discussion.


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