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.

Professional Copyediting is a Self-Publishing Must-Do

Many authors ask me questions like “Do I really need to hire an editor?” and “I had my friend who is an English teacher read it. That counts as editing, right?” While having friends, family, colleagues, and even your writing group is a great way to get feedback on your manuscript, it does not replace the need for a professional copyedit.

Many services offered by self-publishing companies could be considered optional depending on your goals and personal skills. Copyediting is not one of those services I consider “optional;” authors who want their work to polished and professional must hire a professional copyeditor.

So how is a copyedit different than having trusted friends and family read your book?

1) Copyediting requires special skills.

Even friends who are writers or teachers probably don’t have the training necessary to perform a quality edit. (Unless you happen to be friends with a copyeditor.) Copyediting is different than proofreading. The copyeditor doesn’t just look for obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. He or she also corrects style issues, picks up on inconsistencies, and corrects less obvious mistakes.

2) They can look at your work objectively.

Writers who self-edit their work often miss mistakes and inconsistencies because they are too attached to the story. They know what they are saying, so they don’t read through the eyes of a reader who doesn’t know the story. Similarly, friends and family may be afraid of hurting your feelings or be to proud of your work to review it objectively. Copyeditors don’t have a personal attachment to your story and review the manuscript as a professional rather than a friend.

Before you hire a copyeditor, it important to remember these tips:

  • Proofread and spell-check your work before sending it to an editor.
  • Remember that editors are human and many work with about a 5% margin of error.
  • There are different levels of editing intensity: basic, moderate, and extensive. (Basic copyediting typically catches about 70% of errors in a manuscript.)
  • As a self-publishing author, don’t focus on what the editor didn’t find, but rather what was found.
  • Review your manuscript again after you receive it from the editor to check for errors they may have missed.

While copyediting won’t make your book flawless, it will substantially increase the quality and professionalism of your book.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager 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 is Easy, Standing Out Isn’t

While there are many perks to self-publishing — easy to do, higher royalties, no rejection letters, and more — there is also a major drawback: competition. Self-publishing has become very popular, and it seems like everyone — new authors, previously published authors, professionals, even children — is doing it. While it is great for writers to have the freedom and control that self-publishing offers, it also makes the publishing industry even more competitive.

I’ll be honest about something — the majority of self-publishing authors aren’t best selling authors who make millions of dollars. That doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, but it does mean you need to understand the market, have realistic expectations, and work hard to make your book stand out. The solution is “simple”: write a great book, publish a quality book and do a great deal of marketing and promotion.

1) The Writing

Consider submitting your manuscript for a comprehensive, professional and unbiased review before having it published; actually the more reviews you have done, the better. They help you fine tune your manuscript to make it the best book possible.

2) The Publishing

As part of the publishing process, be sure to invest in professional copyediting and a custom cover.  If your book is riddled with typos and grammatical errors, it won’t be taken seriously.  If your book has a plain Jane cover, it could be overlooked.

3) The Marketing

This is the part many self-publishing authors miss.  Along with self-publishing comes self-marketing.  It’s not enough to just have distribution. The most successful self-published authors understand the importance of great marketing. Some self-publishing companies offer services to assist you with your self-marketing. Whether you choose to do it on your own, pay someone to help, or do a combination of both, this element of the process is an absolute must.

Don’t be discouraged!  There are many self-publishing authors who have had success, and you can too if you approach the process correctly.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager 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.

The Benefits of Copyediting for Self Published Authors

Every author, whether self-publishing or traditional publishing, needs an editor. Even authors who work as editors need another editor to review their manuscripts because they know their own writing too well to view it objectively. When you’re too familiar with your own work,  your eye naturally skips over typos and errors. Hiring a copyeditor ensures that all those easy to  make errors are caught.

Additionally, storytelling and expression are different skills from language mechanics. You may be a brilliant storyteller but lack expertise in formatting, punctuation, and book style: That’s where editing comes in. Your editor cleans up the details, while you focus on the creative aspects of your work.

Also, copyeditors look for more than just grammar and spelling errors. They are experts in different styles, such as Chicago style and AP style, and they look for consistency and adherence to style guidelines in your manuscript. If you want your book to be viewed as professional, it must meet the appropriate style guidelines.

When hiring a copyeditor, it is important to note that there are different levels and styles of editing. Basic copyediting is a good choice for many authors, but there are more in-depth editing services available as well. Stay tuned for my upcoming posts explaining the different levels of copyediting.

I’d love to know, why do you plan to hire a copyeditor?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in   sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager 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.

Copyediting Is A Must For Self-Published Authors

Copyediting is different from the revision process. While you may read through your manuscript before publishing, that does not count has copyediting for two reasons. 1) Most writers can’t read their writing objectively. It is easy to overlook areas of weakness because you know what you are trying to say, and you are more likely to miss obvious errors because you are too comfortable with the material. 2) You aren’t the expert. Copyediting requires training on grammar and style. Copy editors look for more than just misspellings and typos. There are specific ways that items such as numbers and titles should be formatted. They also can pick up on inconsistencies you may not notice.

Self-publishing sometimes gets a bad rep because authors don’t spend the money to have their manuscript copyedited. If you want your book to be taken seriously, it needs to look and sound professional. This is especially important for non-fiction books by experts. If you want to be recognized as an expert, you must have your book copyedited.

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.