Conversations: 10/6/2017


Have you ever considered working with a Writing Assistant (Editor/Coach), or Ghostwriter? If you have a novel, memoir, poetry collection, or any other manuscript that is buried in your basement, I hope you will consider bringing it back to life by joining forces with an expert collaborator. Here are two True Stories I hope will encourage you.

True Story: My friend Sue (not her real name) and I met at a writers’ conference last year. Instantly we knew we’d be good friends because we had so much in common. On the last day of the conference we exchanged cards and wished each other well in our writing adventures. Several months later Sue called me and asked to “get together.” We met at a local coffee shop and barely sat down with our steaming cups of caffeine before she announced, “This idea hit me—like an epiphany—and I know it’s supposed to be a book. It just has to be written, so I need your help.” That was the beginning of a two-hour conversation that sent us on a wild ride. I became her “writing assistant,” her editor, writing coach and friend. The manuscript is now with a traditional publishing house.

True Story #2: While sitting at dinner with our neighbors, Bill mentioned that he’d written a little poetry over the years. “When I’m looking at the beauty of nature, words just seem to come to me.” Of course I encouraged him to continue writing because his observations of the world around us are as unique as a finger print—no two are alike. Not long after that conversation, Bill called and asked if I’d like to take a look at some of his work—poetry that he’d matched to his prize-winning photography. To my delight, his extended dining room table was covered with small “prints” of his favorite photographs. Then he handed me a thick stack of hand-written poetry. Over the next three years we worked together to produce two beautiful collections of his photography and verse: From Delicate Lily Pads to Sculptured Peaks, and Impressions of Nature in Black and White by William A. Carlson. Would these books have ever been published without the friendship connection and the TLC of expert assistance? Maybe. “But doubtful,” says Bill.

As my writing life developed into the business of being a “writer’s assistant” I discovered a whole new level of JOY walking through the creative process with another writer and helping their works “find the light of day.” Writing a book (fiction or nonfiction) is a big commitment, and having support from a trained and experienced writer is just what the “book doctor” ordered. Assistant classifications include:

  • The Writing Consultant who can brainstorm the plot/concept with you and help you smash through any writer’s block.
  • The Coach/Editor who reads and offers editing, word choice, and enhancement ideas.
  • The Ghostwriter who develops your original ideas to complete the manuscript. And, like one Ghostwriter is fond of saying: “When it comes to our clients, we are as silent as Jeeves.” Yes, indeed, the professional Ghostwriter never reveals the names of their clients—unless, of course, the client gives permission, places their name on the cover as, written with, or decides the Ghostwriter’s input deserved the co-author title.

How do you find these experts? Most of us are proficient using Google to find any category of experts we’re looking for, including writing consultants, editors and ghostwriters. Their websites may be big and beautiful, however, finding the right FIT with someone you can work with is the real Key to Success.

Most writers’ conference (like the one that I attended with the author in the first True Story—above) set up a panels of experts for writers to talk with which is an excellent way to meet experienced assistants. Even if you’re not able to meet with them at length, and discuss your project, you can at least take their card and contact them later.

However, my go-to place to find professional help is the self-publishing company where I (and several clients) have published. If authors don’t find a perfect fit with one of their Consultants, Editors, or Ghostwriters, they offer other in-house expert connections. AND, unlike traditional houses who hire experts to create books that meet the “projected value” of their business, self-publishing companies hire professional individuals who will listen to each author, and offer their very best help to complete the book that the author has written.

So DIG OUT your old manuscript(s) and find the specialized collaborator who will pump life back into it. You owe it to yourself and your Readers! ⚓︎



ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

I’ve Hired an Editor – Will My Book Be Perfect?

Today’s post was written by professional copyeditor, Joan Rogers.

When authors are deciding whether to purchase copyediting services, the question is sometimes asked: “Will my book be perfect when you’re done?”

The answer is no, it won’t be perfect. But it will be greatly improved. Authors who see my copyediting samples are often amazed that a small, randomly selected portion of text – a thousand words or fewer – will have dozens of style errors. This doesn’t mean that the author isn’t a good writer; storytelling, pacing, dialogue, and character development are skills and talents separate from knowing the exact usage of a semicolon. But it is the case that technical and style errors can be distracting to a reader. In the case of nonfiction, errors can undermine the writer’s authority, particularly if the text is educational or informational.

Is it possible to achieve a perfect book? Probably not. It’s useful for writers to know that a once-through edit will not catch all errors. This is true regardless of the editing service used; when a book is published with a traditional publisher, it usually goes to a copyeditor, and then to a proofreader. Even with this, extant errors are common in published books; I saw several in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, one of the major releases in literary fiction last year.

I work on a large number of manuscripts that have already been edited once by professional editors prior to being submitted to me, and I still find errors. This is not because the original editor didn’t do a good job; it’s reflective of the fact that editing and proofreading are two parts of a process.

Joan Rogers has provided services as an Author Representative and Editor for Outskirts Press since 2008. She studied at Oberlin College Conservatory. She also edits for several academic and scientific researchers at UC Berkeley, as well as for a nationally known journalist. 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.