developmental editing


 

What are some of the differences between developmental editing and ghostwriting?

 

Ghostwriters write the first drafts of chapters. Developmental editors collaborate with the author on getting the first drafts written.

 

Ghostwriters will interview clients, look at writing the author may already have done (blog pieces, articles, etc.) and work with the expert to create a chapter outline. In contrast, a developmental editor will improve the list of contents the author created. Both of these book publishing professionals help an author conceive of what needs to go in the book and what can be left out, but a developmental editor has much more to work with—a manuscript, whether it’s complete or not.

 

The process of collaboration between the book publishing professional and the client can differ from what I’ve described, but in general, it’s the ghostwriter who does the initial writing on any chapter and who does most if not all of the crafting of the chapter outline. I do both ghostwriting and developmental editing, and my clients know I’m flexible with how the work gets done most efficiently. I have clients who have nothing on paper or in a computer document when they first approach me about helping them with their book. Often, they like to start by dictating their ideas into a phone and then send me the digital file of what they dictated. After that, we have some back and forth about their stories and ideas by email and phone. Other clients come to me with a very rough “stream of consciousness” draft that’s as long as the manuscript for a book ready to go into production. Creating that manuscript helped them get clear on the book they want to write and their strengths and weaknesses in getting it to be well-shaped and well-written, but the writing process taught them that they need professional help to get the book in shape. Sometimes, they can do it on their own with coaching and some development help. Sometimes, they know they don’t want to try to create a new draft on their own. They’re certain they’re ready to hire a ghostwriter.

 

Ghostwriters create the voice for the writing. Developmental editors make suggestions and comments about where the voice is working or not working and will point out any inconsistencies in voice.

 

Let’s say you’re a physician and in your writing, you use too many words a lay reader won’t understand or will be intimidated by. A developmental editor will point out words to change and will probably suggest some alternatives. A developmental editor will also suggest ways to improve your writing, such as avoiding the passive voice. (“Mistakes were made” is an example of passive voice. “I made mistakes” is an example of active voice.) A developmental editor will also note the types of grammar and punctuation errors you’ve made and remind you to check these when you create the next draft. I commonly see people use colons (:) when they mean to use semicolons (;) and start a sentence with a clause that doesn’t go with the subject of the sentence. (“As the parent of three children, too many kids are not learning how to manage money.” “Too many kids” is not the subject of the verb “are not learning.” “As the parent of three children, I believe…” would be a grammatical way to set up a sentence like this one.) Line editors, also known as copyeditors, can go through the next draft and correct all the mistakes.

 

Ghostwriters? Well, ghostwriters aren’t supposed to make errors in grammar and punctuation. Thus, every single one of my first drafts I write as a ghostwriter is flawless…. Okay, nearly flawless. The point is that at the early stages of writing, there are bound to be some errors that need to get fixed along the way, but the ghostwriter really does have to have mastery of grammar and punctuation rules. I know my gerundives from my gerunds—you, as my client, don’t have to!

 

What do ghostwriters and developmental editors have in common?

 

Ghostwriters revise additions and changes made by the author. Developmental editors typically don’t. While a ghostwriter will create a first draft of a chapter or section of the book, the author might add to the document. For example, in doing developmental editing, I will often suggest a transition sentence or main idea sentence that can provide clarity. When reviewing the Word document that’s been prepared by a ghostwriter, a client can type in words and answers to queries that have been embedded within it or offer comments in an email or over the phone or Skype before a second draft is prepared. Developmental editors commonly leave it up to the client to make changes before taking the manuscript to the next stage in the process of publication. However, a client might decide to hire the developmental editor look at some or all of the revised draft, especially if the changes were quite extensive.

 

Ghostwriters and developmental editors do not share writing credit, get their name on the front of the book, or share the liability with the author for the material in the book. Professional ghostwriters, developmental editors, and copyeditors will check facts the author includes in the book. However, ultimately, the author maintains the liability for mistakes. Recognize that memory can be faulty, so be sure to fact check your own book. As for credit on the book, sometimes ghostwriters turn into co-writers after conversations between them and the client, but it’s not very common.

 

As you can see, there are overlaps between the two different jobs but some key differences, too. By sharing drafts of your material back and forth, you and your ghostwriter/developmental editor can decide how you can work together most effectively to get your book written professionally.

 

Make sense? Let me know if you need my help. Drop me a line at info at nancy at nancypeske.com or use my contact form and give me a sense of where you are with your project and what kind of help you think you need as well as your budget if you know what it is.

 

Developmental Editor

Ghostwriting and developmental editing have some overlaps and some differences.

Are you feeling lost as you’re structuring chapters in a how-to or self-help book you’re writing? Did you get lost as one section of chapter one started to grow like creeping Charlie on your lawn, taking over the grass? Do you feel as if you’re repeating yourself over and over again, but you don’t know where to first introduce an idea and how to acknowledge that it’s familiar to the reader when you mention it a second or third time? Developmental editors like me help authors out of the weeds when they have trouble structuring chapters or sections. If you aren’t working with a developmental editor, here are some simple tips for structuring book chapters that might help (and of course, you can check with me to see if I’m available to get you out of the weeds, too):

First, don’t try to cram in too many ideas. Aim for five to eight topics per chapter. That’s true whether you are writing a full-length book or a mini-book. If your book is a “life lessons” book of transformational nonfiction, and the title is something like Fifty Ways to Make Your Fifties Fabulous, one topic per chapter makes sense since you’ll have fifty short chapters. However, if the number of lessons is smaller and you want each lesson to be a chapter, you’ll want subsections in each chapter to break up the text. For example, if you want to write The Six Laws of Marketing to Millennials, you’re probably going to need several sections for each law or chapter.

Second, arrange your ideas in a logical order. You might want to write your ideas on cards or simply type them into a document and move them around to get a feel for what order might work. In a book chapter, consider making an emotional connection or offer them a provocative idea at the beginning. Start with a story or some a startling statistic, statement, or fact. That can lead the reader into your first topic. You want to meet the reader where they are to get them where you want them to go, so make a connection right away.

Third, justify or change your order. Explain to yourself why you want to cover one topic before you cover another. You probably have a good reason and don’t realize it! As you justify to yourself why topic 2 comes before topic 3, you will get a better sense of how to write a transition from that topic to the next when you are writing the actual chapter. If you realize your order doesn’t make sense or doesn’t work quite right, it might be that a topic is a subtopic of one of the others. You can write it up as a subtopic in your outline for the chapter and perhaps give it its own header that is a different size from the headers for your main topic. You might even end up placing some material in a sidebar or boxed text that can be read after a section of text has been read. Sidebars and boxed texts are a convenient workaround when you have material that doesn’t smoothly fit into the main text. You might use a sidebar for text that is focused on resources (how to find a practitioner, nutritional or educational testing that can be done, etc.) or that serves as a warning, practical tip, or fun fact.

developmental editor nonfiction

 

Fourth, keep in mind that your entire book doesn’t have to fit into chapter one. It’s easy to get bogged down as you think about all the things you want to write about in your book. Remember, chapter one’s purpose is to meet the reader where they are and make a connection with them and then offer the main points that will be explored in detail later in the book. Phrases such as, “Later in this book,” and “As you will learn,” can help you cut yourself off before you go into too much detail on a topic that you want to explore at length later on. You don’t want to overdo the references to what’s coming, but you also don’t want to pile everything into chapter one.

Again, if you get completely stuck in your structuring and writing, consider hiring me as a developmental editor. I can pull you out of the weeds and convince you that you truly can conquer the task of writing a how-to or self-help book, business book, parenting book, life lessons book—or even a memoir. You might want to check out my services and testimonials pages to learn more about how I work with clients and what their experiences have been.

I especially love this endorsement from a recent client:

“I am an experienced author who has sold 1.1 million copies worldwide. Nevertheless, I got stuck on book number four and was paralyzed for five years. In one conversation, Nancy gave me a piece of advice that simplified a complex problem and actually got me excited about the book once again. Thank you, Nancy!”—Randi Kreger, Author of Stop Walking on Eggshells

Need help structuring your transformative nonfiction book? Contact me.

We all have a book inside us. We may even have several! If you want to write a book based on your life, are you clear on the type of book you would like to write? I have seven options for you—six nonfiction and one fiction—that might fit well with your plan to write a book.

I like to say a book is a credibility card that solidifies your brand and message. Should you write a memoir, focusing on your personal story?  Would it make more sense to write a book about what you have learned, one that features pieces of your story and a short summary of it at the beginning of the book?

Many of my clients have struggled with the question of what type of book to write to most effectively communicate their ideas and establish their brand and get their message out there. Some of my clients have pivoted with their brand, and a book has been instrumental in helping them do that. For example, one wanted to move from a more straightforward health brand to one that was more lifestyle oriented.

Other clients of mine have wanted to write their story as a book so they can inspire others but soon came to see that a memoir needs to be about a specific theme in their life that ties into their central message.

My video, How to Write a Book Based on Your Life, goes into some detail about the seven different types of books you might write. They are:

An autobiography or personal history. This type of personal project lets you tell your story to future generations. How I wish that my great-grandmother had written such a book so I could know more about how she went from having just a six-grade education to running a family business! Your great-grandchildren would surely appreciate a professionally written book telling your life story.

A memoir. Memoirs are thematic and often focus on just one aspect of a person’s life. Some authors write more than one memoir. Common themes including coming of age and the hero’s journey. Memoirs have a wider audience than an autobiography or personal history.

A life lessons book. Like a memoir, a life lessons book is thematic, but the themes are summed up with compelling statements. I love the title of the book by Starbucks founder Howard Behar, written with Janet Goldstein: It’s Not About the CoffeeWhat a great title that summarizes the book’s central message! All of his chapter titles are statements and lessons that we can learn from.

A business book. A business book can be part memoir, part life-lessons book. The key is to know your best stories and match them up with key ideas you want to put across (for example, that the Starbucks brand is NOT about the coffee!)

A self-help book. I specialize in helping people write this type of book. You may have seen my video on how to structure a self-help book. In it, I offer a structure that I have seen work time and time again. The book should take readers on a journey from here to there so that by the end of the book, they feel their life has changed and they know how to apply your ideas to their own life to make it better. There are two key elements in self-help books: the takeaway and the action plan. (You do not necessarily need an action plan, but you definitely need takeaway, as I explain in my video on How to Write a Book Based on Your Life.)

A parenting book. I cowrote an evergreen parenting book that continues to sell year after year (hence “evergreen”). In fact, it has sold over 130,000 copies. Now, I am not the expert of all time on parenting (my son would agree with me on that!). However, I did interviews and research, synthesized ideas, drew on my own experiences as a child and as a parent, and put it all together with the help of my coauthor, my son’s occupational therapist who treated him. We came up with a parenting book filled with tips and strategies I knew parents needed. I turned myself into an expert in the process. (Two book award committees and dozens of reviewers and endorsers apparently agree, because Raising a Sensory Smart Child has gotten a phenomenal response from those folks.) My coauthor, Lindsey Biel, OTR/L, provided the therapist’s perspective, which broadened the appeal of the book. You might want to consider a coauthor or at least a foreword from someone who has professional credentials who can vouch for the credibility of your parenting advice.

A novel. You can “fictionalize” your life and start writing a novel. Know whether you are going to make it a mystery, a romance, commercial women’s fiction (such as a novel about a mother and daughter who experience conflict they have to resolve), or a work of literary fiction. Know the conventions of these types of books so that you are clear on what you are writing. If you are going to write commercial women’s fiction, read some novels in that category. There’s an old saying: To be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. Did you know that bestselling novelist Jeffrey Archer said he read 100 novels before starting his own? That might have been more than he needed to read, but it goes to show you really do have to familiarize yourself with the type of book you want to write.

I also talk in my video How to Write a Book Based on Your Life about using sensory detail and storytelling so that you “show, don’t tell”—another old saying in the book biz. When you write, put us in the middle of the action and the moment of the scene, even if you are just writing an anecdote in a business book so you emotionally engage us. You don’t have to go on for pages giving us exhaustive detail about a client you worked with, but give us a sense of what it was like to be in the situation that went from uncomfortable to a sense of possibility for change. Show us how you overcame your bad habit of saying “yes, of course” and instead saying, “I’ll need to get more details before I commit to doing that.” Even a nonfiction book has a narrative arc. Perhaps you will show us how you went from hating your body to feeling grateful for the healthy body you inhabit, from weighing yourself obsessively to telling your scale, “Kiss my butt, buddy,” and weighing yourself once a year, not obsessing about the number. You started at a low place and achieved success in some area of your life. People want to see how you did that, and your book can do the job of conveying your story.

Need help conceptualizing your book? Stuck on the title and overarching theme? Not sure if you should go with life lessons around your parenting successes or with a funny memoir? I can help. Give me some details about where you are in your process. Think about where you see yourself going with this book (doing podcasts and public speaking? being on local TV and radio talk shows? having a blog and newsletter along with a popular Instagram account?). And let me know if you’re ready for a one-hour consultation call and perhaps some coaching as you start your writing process. Contact me and let’s get you firmly on the road to writing and publishing your book.

 

how to write a book 7 ways

How to write a book based on your story or work: I can help you figure out what type of book you want to write.

Writing a memoir or nonfiction book but afraid you’re not a “real” writer with a broad enough vocabulary and an ability to create elegant metaphors? Banish that fear. I can offer you three ways to energize your writing to bring it up to the next level so that your book is compelling and your ideas and anecdotes come alive for your readers.

1. Pick strong verbs.

Avoid variations on the verb “to be” where you can because “to be” and its forms are weak, wimpy verbs. Also, turn nouns into strong verbs that make your writing and storytelling more energetic and compelling.

 

Weak: Summer is my favorite season.

“Is” is a form of the verb “to be.”

Strong: I favor summer over all the other seasons.

“Favor” is a strong verb compared to “is.”

 

Weak: My partner made an assumption that I was not ready for change.

“Was” is weak.

Strong: My partner assumed that change would overwhelm me.

“Assumed” is stronger than “made an assumption” and it’s less wordy. “Was” is weak. Also, when you begin choosing verbs that could go into that clause, you start getting more precise with your words, which gives your writing more oomph. Here, turning the noun “assumption” into a strong verb helps tighten the writing, making it more energetic.

2. Use a thesaurus to find variations on words.

Look for the overuse of certain words in your writing. Did you use “creative” in the first sentence of a paragraph, “creativity” in the second sentence, and “create” in another paragraph on the same page? Even if your book is on creativity, you want to use a variety of words to get across the concept of creativity. A thesaurus can lead you to words such as innovative, resourceful, imaginative, originality, inventive, and more. Bonus tip: If it’s hard to find a synonym you haven’t already used, maybe you need to tighten the writing so it’s less repetitive.

3. Use figurative language and wordplay.

If you keep using the same words over and over, you’re in the company of the great writer J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, who said she became frustrated trying to find new ways of saying “corridor” or “hall” when describing the movement of characters. When it seems there’s no way to avoid overusing a word that’s key to your story, work, and message, consider using figurative language and wordplay.

Weak: I created my 40-day program for people who think they’re not creative to help them develop their creativity.

We get it! But using variations on “to create” over and over will bore your reader.

Strong: I developed my 40-day program for people who think they’re not “the creative type” to help them discover their inner playground child, the self that sees the world as a playground filled with possibilities for doing something different and innovative.

Here, the writer actually is using figurative language to energize her writing and help brand herself at the same time. As a developmental editor or ghostwriter who also does book publishing consultations, I would say, “Terrific! Now Google ‘inner playground child’ to see if anyone else is using it, and consider buying the dot com URL (www.PlaygroundChild.com) to reserve it—and setting up an Inner Playground Child professional page on Facebook to help secure your brand and a clever turn-of-phrase to go with it.” Branding is key for setting your book and your work apart from others’ in the marketplace, so I would help steer you toward words, phrases, and clauses that would be unique to you.

 

Need help with writing, strategizing, branding, and envisioning your nonfiction mind/body/spirit book? Contact me today and let me know where you are with your plan for your book and what kind of help you need. (Perhaps a Vision Plan is your next step?)

 

 

energize your writing book power

 

 

Ghostwriters don’t often get attention. Being invisible is pretty much baked into our job description! However, I was just recognized by Feedspot for having one of the top 40 ghostwriter blogs on the Internet, and I’ll wear that as a badge of honor even though I can’t officially admit to ghostwriting anything. You will have to trust me on my ghostwriting experience. Shhhhh! Best ghostwriter blog . . . well, my blog IS for people seeking a ghostwriter, and I know some ghostwriters have learned from me by reading it. I’ll take the badge!

best ghostwriter blog top 40

My blog and NancyPeske.com was honored as one of the top 40 ghostwriter blogs by Feedspot. Yay!

 

How do I work as a ghostwriter? The partnership between my clients and me varies wildly from client to client, book to book, and even chapter to chapter. Quite often, I don’t even ghostwrite. Instead, I do developmental editing, consulting, and coaching. I commonly help a client stay true to her brand by going over a manuscript she has drafted and making specific suggestions about voice, tone, and content as well as structure and approach. We talk about title, message, audience, and platform, and what this book is meant to be.

 

New clients sometimes have trouble understanding this “big picture” approach to editorial development. I think that’s because many people mistakenly assume they know what editors do and what editing is. It’s more complicated than merely “fixing” text. You may want to hire me as a ghostwriter, which is a big commitment on your part and mine, but we may end up working together differently—with me serving as more of a developmental editor, book writing coach, and book publishing consultant. So while on some projects, I will ghostwrite—interview the client, write all the drafts, and go over them with the client, who then makes changes in the document or suggests them over the phone—very often, what I’m doing is less writing and more developmental editing, strategizing, shaping, and branding.

 

Want to get started? Here are the options:

 

Are you solidly committed to spending five figures on a ghostwriter? Fill out my contact form. That way, I can help you determine whether I might be the best ghostwriter for you, let you know whether I’m available, and steer you toward a highly talented colleague if need be.

 

Are you unsure of whether you want to make a big financial commitment to ghostwriting, but certain you want to get your book written and published? Fill out my contact form and tell me more.

 

Give me some details and it will be much easier for me to help you.

 

Your book idea CAN go from vision to reality!

 

And if you want to access the insights of a bestselling ghostwriter, developmental editor, book writing coach, and book publishing consultant, be sure to sign up for my newsletter on my home page, which will deliver my blog to your in box (plus you’ll get a copy of my eBook 7 Great Tips for Finding the Perfect Publisher). Thanks!

Nancy Peske hire a ghostwriter developmental editor

I’m not an actual ghost, just a ghostwriter…and developmental editor…and book writing coach…and book publishing consultant.

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