Why I Never Quote Before I Read
If you ask for one of three services, I can quote you a price right up front. An A&R is always $500, a proposal is always $5,000 (industry standard), and I charge $150 an hour for mentoring or consultation. For anything else, I never quote before I read.
And I hear you ask me “why?”.
If you meet a ghostwriter or editor who will indeed quote long before they’ve seen your material, you are not dealing with a professional. You are dealing with a (most likely) hungry freelancer. Someone who does not quite know what they’re doing, and is competing with every other freelancer out there.
Trivia: If you are gathering prices and mine is the lowest, I take that to mean I need to raise mine.
No project can be accurately priced until I’ve looked at it and I know what needs done. You can imagine the nightmare situation of quoting a ‘standard’ price and then finding out, upon seeing the material, that it needs eight times the work you thought it did, and will take infinity longer. You quoted FAR too low, and now you’re stuck.
That said, it’s not my only concern.
I’m just a tad bit too honest for my own good. I will indeed go back to the store if they forgot to charge me for something, I’ll remind the person at the drive-thru that they didn’t take my payment, and my contracts are all very generous towards the client. I won’t allow myself to be ripped off, but I won’t rip anyone else off either. Which means that a great many times, I don’t want to OVERcharge either.
Yes, really. I have a colleague that charges a set fee to ghost a book: $65,000 per project, no matter what. He works mainly with business books, and that model works for him. But I’d lose my mind – I’ve never charged that much for a straight business book in my life, and I probably never will. That price range is usually reserved for fiction or memoirs. Now, he’s not ripping anyone off, because he has a set fee. He’s not unethical. But I would feel unethical if I charged that much.
So I never quote before I read.