In Your Corner : Do I need a ghostwriter?

How do you know if it’s time to seek out a ghostwriter to help you complete your book?  And what all is involved in the process of ghostwriting, anyway?  Is it really any different from detailed copyediting?

If you’re asking these questions, I hope what I write here will help to answer at least a few of them.

As with any writing venture, ghostwriting is a unique experience that presents unique challenges in addition to unique benefits.  You won’t ever find me pretending otherwise, just as you won’t find me beating around the bush when it comes to recommending a thorough and professional edit of your manuscript once it’s been written––and just as I held no punches when I worked to draw a dividing line between copyediting and proofreading in my blog post two weeks ago.

So, what is ghostwriting?  It is, according to the “Publishing” page on About.com, “the practice of writing for and in the name of someone else. It is most commonly associated with book publishing, but today it is also widely used in public relations, corporate communications, social media, and many other industries and fields that are producing greater and greater amounts of written content.”  Many of our most prolific “superstar” genre specialists, like John Grisham and Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts (and so on and so on to infinity) employ a combination of understudies, assistants or secondary writers, and ghostwriters.  They are called upon to generate, quite simply, too much material for a single human being to keep pace.  But many if not most niche storytellers––whether famous or indie, traditionally published or self-publishing––lead hectic and busy lives that keep them from writing the books that they want to.  We just can’t ignore the fact that self-publishing authors deserve to know that there is another option out there for them!

ghostwriting

The process is relatively simple: most ghostwriters work on a contract or freelance basis for companies like Outskirts Press, so the fastest way to get yourself set up with an accomplished and expert ghostwriter is to go through one of these established websites.  Perhaps the best reason of all to go with someone who has been vetted and proven trustworthy is this: ghostwriting is, at its core, a collaborative venture between you (the author) and your ghostwriter.  How you choose to work depends more on you and what your vision for a piece demands than it does on time constraints, or one hopes for such a truth in a perfect universe.  (Being too rushed for time to go it alone is a wholly valid reason to hire a ghostwriter!)

Ghostwriting has been around awhile.  Long enough, in fact, that industry supergiants like Forbes have taken a look at it––and, circling back to my comment about collaboration:  In this article for Forbes, contributor Sydney LeBlanc writes that “you can turn [your] entire book project over to the writer (research and writing) or you can provide research, notes, periodicals, etc that will help the writer.”  That’s one option, but “You can also have regular ‘interviews’ with the writer who will take notes or record conversations with you about the topic. The writer will write draft chapters for you to review, edit, or make suggestions.”  LeBlanc says that, ultimately, “There are many ways to work with a ghostwriter; it all depends on what is convenient or best for you and what is in your budget.”  (Emphasis mine.)

Hopefully this is enough to convince you that seeking out a ghostwriter is a simple and easy thing to do, and that therefore we can move past one of several possible obstacles to taking that course of action!

(PERSONAL ASIDE & RANT: Enough with the stigma, already!  Everyone’s writing method looks different, anyway, so why do we feel guilty over choosing to bring someone else in on the process?  Let’s celebrate diversification through collaboration rather than taking ghostwriting as a marker of a lack of creativity!)

So, how do you know it’s time to start researching ghostwriting as a viable option for your book?  Well, here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you can answer all or even most of the following questions with “yes,” then it might be time:

  1. Are you overworked, overstressed, or overcommitted?
  2. Do you have a story to share?
  3. Do you need a little help developing your ideas beyond the outline or draft stage?
  4. Do you believe in artistic collaboration?
  5. Can you trust the ghostwriter you pick to do justice to your vision?

Here’s where ghostwriting diverges from that other industry-specific term, “copyediting” : a copyeditor’s job is to take a finished draft and polish it up for final publication.  A thorough copyedit involves more than just shuffling commas around, but it won’t substantially change the core content of a piece.  Ghostwriting, on the other hand, involves the conceptualization and generation of a great deal of new material.  Your ghostwriter becomes your collaborator and your partner in crime, your sounding board and scribe.  Ghostwriters become folded into your stories, and it is in their best interest as paid professionals to deliver the best service they can––but if you’re both lucky, your ghostwriter might even become your ally and friend.  And what could be better than that?  Writing can be such an isolating experience, but I’d like to assure you as I do each and every week:

 

You’re not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing Takes Patience

One of the many benefits of self-publishing is the turnaround time. Self-published books can often be printed much quicker than traditionally published books. That said, successful self-published authors understand that publishing a quality book takes patience. Here is why.

1. Your manuscript should be near flawless.

Before self-publishing your book, you want to make sure you spend plenty of time revising and editing. For some authors, a developmental editor could be extremely beneficial, and for all writers, hiring a professional copyeditor is a must. While no book is completely flawless, readers expect quality books to be close to perfect. If you want your book to be successful, you need to have the patience to go through the editing process.

2. The cover is extremely important.

Despite the cliché “don’t choose a book by its cover,” most readers are highly influenced by the front and back cover of your book. Take the time to design a quality, personalized front cover that depicts the essence of your book. Also, spend time writing professional back cover copy and author bio, and don’t forget to have this copy edited and proofread.

3. Plan, plan, and plan some more.

Even the most well-crafted book can’t be successful if readers don’t know it exists. Successful self-published authors understand the importance of a great marketing and promotion plan. Take time to figure out who your target market is and how you are going to reach them. Some possibilities include setting up and maintaining social media pages, contacting local media, and scheduling book signings.

Remember, patience is a virtue. While you are excited to finally see your book in print, don’t be in such a rush that you skip over important steps in the self-publishing process. Being patient now will pay off in the long run.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 25 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Self Publishing Week in Review: 6/11/13

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self publishing process, which will lead to a greater self publishing experience. To help you stay current on self publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Tuesday to find out the hottest news in self publishing this week.

Kawasaki Makes the Case for Self Publishing

Successful self publishing author Guy Kawasaki talks about his transition from traditional publishing to self publishing and provided 10 self-publishing tips in an entertaining keynote at uPublishU at the Javits Center in New York City.

Self-Publishing Authors Receive Complimentary Editing Offered from Outskirts
Press When They Start Publishing This June

Professional editing is a must for self publishing authors. Outskirts Press is currently offering complimentary editing to authors who start publishing in June!

How Mike Michalowicz Went From Unknown, Self-Published Author To Mainstream Publishing Success

Here is the success story of the self published author Mike Michalowicz, who wrote The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: The Tell-It-Like-It-Is Guide to Cleaning Up in Business, Even if You Are at the End of Your Roll.

Self publishing author hits best-seller lists

Another success story; read and be inspired.

If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

There is No Such Thing as Free Lunch

Have you heard the cliché “There is no such thing as a free lunch”? Everything has a cost, even if it appears to be free. This true for self publishing as well as all other areas of life.

While there are companies who say they publish your book for free, there are still costs to you. For instance, you may have to buy large amounts of merchandise after the book is printed, or you will have to spend vast amounts of time marketing your own book. In addition, a “free” publishing company could harm your reputation has an author if your book is not of professional quality.

Authors who want their books to be taken seriously need to invest in their projects. This means you’ll at least need a good copy editor and possibly an experienced graphic designer. Depending on your skills and goals, you may also require marketing services. Not all self publishing companies offer these extra services.

Authors should invest in their books by choosing a full-service self publishing company that offers a variety of production and marketing services as well as excellent customer service. This will ensure that you have access to skilled professionals who will help make your book a masterpiece.

I’d love to know, what additional services do you plan to use when self publishing your book?

ABOUT WENDY STETINA: Wendy Stetina is a sales and marketing professional with over 30 years experience in the printing and publishing industry. Wendy works as the Director of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; and together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction, or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Wendy Stetina can put you on the right path.

The Truth About Copy Editing

You’ve probably heard that if you want your self-published book to be taken seriously, you should hire a professional copy editor. Before you do, there are a few things you should know.

There might still be errors.

How many times have you read a national publication or a book by a top publishing house and found an error? Even the best editors and proofreaders make mistakes.  While hiring a professional will significantly improve the quality of your book, don’t be surprised if one or more errors make it into print. An occassional error does not mean that the editor did a poor job; it just shows that editors are human.

You get what you pay for.

Copy editors charge per word, hour, page or project. The cost of the edit depends on the number of times the editor readers through your manuscript. If you only pay for a single line edit, the editor will only read your manuscript once. Therefore, there is a good chance that there will still be errors in your book. If you want a more thorough edit, you must pay the editor to spend more time on your book. When hiring an editor, be sure to find out how many times he or she will read through your manuscript.

Editors must be paid.

I’ve occasionally had to deal with writers who refused to pay for editing services because their manuscript was not flawless or the writer disagreed with some of the editor’s recommendations. Editors are professionals, and they earn their living by editing materials such as books. You cannot decide to not pay for services because they did not catch all of the errors, especially if you only paid for a single line edit. You need to be realistic about your expectations and respectful to the person working on your book.

 

Don’t let this information discourage you from hiring a professional copy editor. This service is an important part of the publication process, and it will significantly improve the quality of your book. However, you need to be realistic about your expectations. You cannot pay someone pennies to make your book flawless, and you cannot expect perfection every time. Copy editors desire fair wages for the time they spend on your book, and writers need to recognize that even the best copy editors make mistakes.

Cheri Breeding ABOUT CHERI BREEDING: Since 2005 Cheri Breeding has been working as the Director of Production for Outskirts Press. In that time, she has been an instrumental component of every aspect of the Production Department, performing the roles of an Author Representative, Book Designer, Customer Service Representative, Title Production Supervisor, Production Manager and, Director of Production. She brings all that experience and knowledge, along with an unparalleled customer-service focus, to help self-publishing authors reach high-quality book publication more efficiently, professionally, and affordably.