Today we sell most books by proposals, which include two or three sample chapters and a synopsis or outline of the book as well as a marketing plan.
I ask authors to pay me to write the proposal. (My agent has set a price for my work because she said I tend to undercharge. She was correct.)
For writing a proposal, I suggest you ask for 40 percent of what you would expect on a flat-fee project. I write that from my own experience. By the time I've completed a full proposal, I've written at least 40 percent of the book.
So here's how it would work. For instance, if you charged $10,000 for a book—which is a reasonable amount for a first-time ghostwriter—your fee for the proposal would be $4,000.
There's one more decision to make. If I sell the book (and in my case, my agent sells the book), I refund the proposal money, and we split the royalty. Not all writers return the proposal fee.
My agent becomes involved only after I send her the completed proposal. She's not involved with any agreement with the author prior to selling the book. Of course, she doesn't receive a fee from the proposal.