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The Truth About Bestselling Ghostwriters

Many ghostwriters can call themselves “bestselling ghostwriters.” But what does that really mean?

Does it mean they wrote a New York Times bestseller? A Wall Street Journal bestseller? An Amazon bestseller?

If you’re considering working with a ghostwriter, this is a critical distinction.

Generally, a ghostwriter who’s written NYT bestsellers has a higher level of status, skill, and experience than a ghostwriter who’s written an Amazon bestseller.

Both can legitimately call themselves bestselling ghostwriters. But the differences in what they charge, their availability, and their willingness to work with you will be significant.

If you want to publish a bestseller, your best option is to work with a ghostwriter who has proven they can write bestselling books.

But before you go searching for someone to hire, it’s important to understand the different tiers of writers who call themselves “bestselling ghostwriters.”

In this post, I cover:

Thousands of Authors have turned to Scribe to ghostwrite and publish their nonfiction books. To learn more, check out Scribe Professional, our professional ghostwriting service, or schedule a consult to connect with one of our Authors Strategists.

The Landscape of Today’s Bestselling Ghostwriters

Bestselling ghostwriters break down into 3 different tiers:

  1. Elite ghostwriters
  2. Good ghostwriters
  3. Reliable ghostwriters (but not true bestsellers)

Below is an overview of each, including their price range, their experience level, and the kinds of projects they accept.

Tier 1: Elite Ghostwriters – $250,000+

Elite ghostwriters are a small number of well-established Authors with extensive experience writing bestselling books. There are no more than 200 of these ghostwriters around the world (probably less). And typically, they’ve also published books under their own names.

On the low end, if your book idea is something they can easily execute, you can find one to write a book with you for $250,000. But more likely, this class of ghostwriters will charge a minimum of $500,000, and often much more.

They’re Selective

Elite ghostwriters are very selective about the projects they accept. It’s common for them to have 20+ other potential deals for every book they choose. As a result, they’re able to pick the books that they’re most excited about working on.

These ghostwriters tend to be artists first. They tend to only take projects that are meaningful to them beyond money.

It’s also rare for them to work with Authors who don’t have traditional publishing deals.And they favor Authors who have a large audience because they’re more likely to make money from their book.

So if you want to work with a ghostwriter in this category, your best bet is to have:

  • A book idea that will capture their interest (i.e., not another generic CEO book)
  • A traditional publishing deal
  • A large built-in audience

They’ll Ask for a Share of the Profits

You also don’t just hire a professional ghostwriter at this level. An elite ghostwriter is a collaborator that you partner with. And the terms they command typically range from 25 to 50% of your book profits.

The percent of profits they request depends on the risk involved.

For example, if an Author has a huge audience and the ghostwriter feels confident the book will make money, they might choose to ask for 25% of profits. On the other hand, if the Author has credibility and an interesting book idea—but lacks an audience—they might ask for 50% (because there’s less certainty the book will sell).

The less you can bring to the table, the more you need to be willing to give up if you want to work with an elite ghostwriter. But even if you have a huge audience, you’ll still need to be prepared to give them a share of your profits.

Tier 2: Good Ghostwriters – $50,000 to $150,000

The second tier of bestselling ghostwriters is a group of writers that’s at least 10x times as large. And while they’re not cheap, they’re much more accessible than the elite-level ghostwriters I described above.

You can find great quality book ghostwriters in this tier who will work with you. They’ve likely written at least 1 to 3 bestselling books (not major bestsellers, but books that are noteworthy).

Most of them charge fees between $50,000 and $150,000. And they won’t typically ask for a share of your book profits—which is a significant benefit to consider.

A ghostwriter’s pricing at this level is based on:

  • Their level of experience
  • The amount of writing you need
  • The amount of material you give them to get started

Note: A higher price in this tier doesn’t guarantee better quality writing. Very often, writers with lower prices are equally talented. They just have less experience or have been struggling to find work. You can find great quality ghostwriters for $50,000 to $75,000.

Overall, writers in this tier are less selective about the book proposals that come their way, so they’re much easier to find and work with.

Tier 3: Reliable Ghostwriters (But Not True Bestsellers) – $40,000 to $50,000

The final tier of bestselling ghostwriters have technically written “bestselling books” but haven’t hit any of the big 3 lists (NYT, WSJ, USA Today).

You can identify these ghostwriters by looking at the books they’ve written. Typically, they’ve only written Amazon bestsellers, which is much easier to achieve.

Let me be clear: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. Becoming an Amazon bestseller is an amazing goal for many Authors and worthy of celebration. It’s something we help almost all of our clients achieve as a part of our service.

Ghostwriters in this tier can produce a good book at a reasonable price. And, considering the tradeoffs involved with chasing top bestseller lists, this tier is actually a great choice for most Authors.

5 Bestselling Books Ghostwritten by Scribe

We’ve worked with over 2,000 published Authors. As I mentioned above, almost all of them have become Amazon bestsellers. But over 20 of them have now hit one or more of the top bestseller lists.

Below is an overview of 5 books we’ve ghostwritten that have landed on lists of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or USA Today.

Note: To jump straight to the information about our service, click here


The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish: Written by Scribe's bestselling ghostwriters

Tiffany Haddish is one of comedy’s brightest stars. But before she achieved box office success and sold out clubs as a stand-up comic, Tiffany spent most of her life just trying to survive.

She grew up in poverty in South Central LA. She bounced around the foster care system as a teenager. By working with us, Tiffany found her voice and told her story of how she used comedy to overcome those hardships.

The Last Black Unicorn was well-received by critics for its heart, humor, and fearless honesty. It earned Tiffany a place as a New York Times best-selling Author and was also named one of Goodreads best books of 2018.


Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins

Over 2.5 million copies sold. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller. Can’t Hurt Me is one of the most influential books in recent memory about what’s possible through self-discipline and hard work.

We helped David write this book that’s part self-help guide and part memoir. In it, David shares how poverty and a childhood tainted by physical abuse didn’t stop him from transforming into a decorated Armed Forces veteran and one of the world’s top endurance athletes.

Since its publication in 2018, Can’t Hurt Me has served as an inspiration to many who’ve read it. David’s book shows how someone can reach their full potential when they push through pain and fear.


Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin P. Hardy

Who Not How by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin P. Hardy

When we want to accomplish a goal, most of us wonder, “How can I do this?” But what we should ask instead is, “Who can do this for me?”

This was one of the best business books I’ve read in a long time. I thought I understood this concept. But after reading it, I realized I was only applying it in about 10% of my life. And that it’s just as valuable in personal life as it is in business.

Since its publication in the fall of 2020, Who Not How has sold more than 100,000 copies. And due to its popularity, it earned the distinction of landing on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list.


Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman

Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman

When we face high-stakes situations, our unconscious mind takes over. Fear, anxiety, and doubt bring themselves to the forefront, making it difficult for us to rationalize our way out of our emotions.

When we catch ourselves in these moments of panic, there may not seem like a way out. But according to Todd Herman, a performance coach with more than 20-plus years of experience working with top athletes and executives, there is.

Todd explains his approach in The Alter Ego Effect, the book we helped him write, which became a Wall Street Journal bestseller. In it, Todd teaches readers how to craft and manage their inner hero to unlock capabilities they already have.


Never Lose A Customer Again by Joey Coleman

Never Lose A Customer Again by Joey Coleman

Most business advice centers around the importance of chasing new customers. But to grow a company, it’s important to invest as much effort in satisfying the ones you already have.

That’s the premise behind Never Lose A Customer Again, a bestselling book we helped business relationship coach Joey Coleman write and self-publish. Before producing this book, Joey spent most of his career consulting unhappy professionals who were sabotaging their own customer retention.

For years, Joey tried to write the book himself, but he failed because he was so overwhelmed by the process. But the agony he felt and the mistakes he made were just a precursor to the success his book generated, including becoming a Wall Street Journal bestseller in the week that it launched.

Who Scribe’s Ghostwriting Services Are Best For

If you’re dead set on working with a Tier 1 ghostwriter, and you have a half-million dollars you’re willing to spend, then by all means, you should do that. But that’s not who Scribe is for.

We built Scribe for Authors looking for great service and a professional-quality book. They’re not looking for cheap. But they don’t want to spend $250,000+ to have it written and published.

Our clients consist of entrepreneurs, executives, consultants, and other experts. Their motivations for publishing tend to be primarily professional (e.g., growing their business, getting more clients) or personal (e.g., making an impact, leaving a legacy).

Very few of them are primarily focused on becoming a top bestselling Author. Although, as I mentioned above, we’ve helped dozens of clients achieve that.

The Gap We’ve Filled in the Market

For a long time, it was no easy task to find and hire a ghostwriter (it still isn’t if you try to do it on your own).

You’d have to spend dozens of hours researching and sifting through online profiles to find worthy candidates.

Then, you’d have to interview those candidates and try to figure out which one would be a good fit for you. If you’re new to ghostwriting and publishing, it’s not easy to tell who’s legitimate—or who will be a good fit.

This process would very often lead to wasted time and wasted money.

And if you’re the type of person we created Scribe for—an executive, a consultant, etc.—you don’t have the time to waste on this process.

That’s why we created Scribe: to revolutionize this experience for aspiring book Authors.

We find and vet high-quality, experienced ghostwriters. We help to pair our clients with the ghostwriter who is the best possible fit for them. And we’ve developed a defined, proven process that our ghostwriters use to produce incredible results for our clients.

How Our Ghostwriting Services Are Different (and What They Include)

We offer 2 tiers of ghostwriting services:

  • Scribe Professional is our classic ghostwriting service for Authors looking to work with a great quality ghostwriter for a reasonable price.
  • Scribe Elite Ghostwriting is our highest tier book writing service that guarantees you work with an award-winning ghostwriter (i.e., they’ve written or edited NYT, WSJ, or USA Today bestsellers).

The biggest difference between Scribe and other services is that our ghostwriting services include self-publishing.

Ghostwriters don’t normally provide self-publishing services. And if they do, it’s an additional charge beyond their ghostwriting fee.

To put it into perspective, the cost to self-publish a quality book is typically around $13,000.

But with Scribe Professional, you can ghostwrite and publish your book for $40,000 total ($5,000/month for 8 months). And we offer a money back guarantee.

Here’s a full breakdown of our Scribe Professional service:

  • Validation, structuring, and positioning of your book idea.
  • Comprehensive interviews to get your ideas out of your head and into a book (in your words and your voice).
  • A completed book manuscript reviewed by expert book editors.
  • A beautifully designed book cover and interior layout.
  • Full coordination of all book publishing details (ISBN, author bio, description, etc.).
  • An eBook format of your book.
  • Full printing services, with the ability to order unlimited copies at production cost (with an initial 100-copy gift from us).
  • Full distribution through major online retailers (Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, iBooks)
  • 100% ownership of rights and royalties.
  • First week promotions to help you become an Amazon Bestseller (including a scheduled podcast interview and more).
  • Marketing strategy and consultation by our experienced team of book marketers.

Scribe Elite Ghostwriting starts at $120,000. You get everything included in Scribe professional, plus:

  • You’re guaranteed to be paired with an award-winning ghostwriter.
  • A complete PR and media campaign starting prior to launch and lasting a minimum of 3 months.
  • Audiobook creation using a professional voice actor and top of the line studio production.

There are no other ghostwriting services on the market that deliver this much value. If you want to turn your ideas into a published book, schedule a consult with one of our Authors Strategists.