Last night I received an offer that both delighted and perplexed me. It was a ghostwriting gig, except it wasn’t a single gig so much as an open-ended contract. It can best be summarized as “I give you a list of genres and you write me 60,000 quality-and-totally-original words per month forever.”
I’m going to take the high road and assume this person doesn’t know anything about writing. Suffice to say, if it were that easy to just churn out 60,000 quality-and-totally-original words per month every month in whatever genre I felt like, I would have a bibliography the size of Agatha Christie by now– and I sure as heck wouldn’t need a ghostwriting gig.
As ridiculous as the proposition was, it did kinda make me squee, on the grounds that it’s a sign I’m moving in the right direction. The timing of it, coming as it did on the same day that I sent my first novel submission off to a major New York publisher, is just too good.
However, it also prompted me to do some number crunching about just what being a dedicated and businesslike wordsmith should entail. Working backwards from my desired annual income, and picking an arbitrary (but reasonable) estimate of “words per hour,” I worked out both an hourly rate and a “per word” rate, suitably padded to allow for things like self-employment taxes and stupidly expensive American insurance. Applying that rate to a novel also told me how much each one should make in order to hit that goal, which means I now have an idea of what my minimum to negotiate for should be.
I haven’t decided whether or not to send the final rate back to the ghostwriter gig guy for chuckles. I have a feeling he would hiss and curl up like a dead spider. On the other hand, it would be disingenuous of me, because as I say, if I were writing 60k quality-and-totally-original words per month? I’d be selling those guys under my own name and be an A-list author.
Which is not a bad plan, actually. Think I’ll get to work on that.