ghostwriting


 

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.

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.

 

Have you completed a memoir, or written a lot of material, and become stuck? A developmental editor can help you figure out what you need to do and how you can reshape your material. I do this work and find it very rewarding because I love helping clients tell their stories. Whenever I can, I offer would-be authors advice on how to get unstuck in the process of writing their memoir or self-help book, and in that spirit, I’d like to share with you an interview I did with a colleague, Al Desetta.

Al Desetta is a ghostwriter/developmental editor I have referred people to when the project isn’t quite right for me or the timing isn’t going to work out given the client’s plans and my schedule. I asked him to shed some light on how he works so that people who follow my blog can learn from him.

 

Nancy: Many people are confused by what a developmental editor does. How would you describe what you do?

 

Al: A developmental editor helps an author develop the true potential in a completed or partially completed manuscript. Unlike a copyeditor who simply corrects a manuscript, a developmental editor looks for ways to help the author improve it, which typically includes helping the writer reorganize the book, rewrite parts of it, add new or additional information, cut or deemphasize parts of a manuscript, etc. For example, I often help memoir writers deepen certain aspects of their stories that they may have overlooked or not considered important. Writers—especially first time writers—are frequently too close to their experience to fully realize the true power in certain events. As a developmental editor, I help authors find the “diamond in the rough” of their experience.

 

Nancy: Who is your typical client? Why do they hire you? For instance, where are they in their process of writing?

 

Al: A typical client is a first-time author who has written a book, but who is uncertain about the quality of the work and seeks me out for objective and constructive feedback. They know they have the germ of a good idea, or even a pretty well-developed book, but they want someone who can offer a professional opinion on the state of the manuscript and ways to improve it.

developmental editor

Stuck on writing your memoir? Hire a developmental editor to evaluate it and help you write it! Developmental editor Al Desetta explains.

 

Nancy: You ghostwrite and you do developmental editing. How do you help a client decide which service is the right one for that particular project?

 

Al: Usually clients are pretty clear about which service they want. Ghostwriting is for people who don’t have the time or skills to write their own books. Developmental editing is for authors who have written their own books, but who are stuck in some way. Sometimes developmental editing also includes some ghostwriting. I’m helping an author right now who has partially completed a memoir. Some of what I do with her is developmental editing—I ask her questions and point out areas where she can improve and develop the manuscript. But I also do a little ghostwriting to help in the process—I interview her about aspects of her life, write chapters based on the interviews, and she then revises these chapters and adds more information.

 

Nancy: When you get full or partial manuscripts from a new client working on a nonfiction book, what are the most common problems you see?

 

Al: Two common problems are overwriting and lack of a workable structure. These problems often surface in memoirs, but are also true of most nonfiction books.

 

Memoir writers often tend to overwrite—they are so close to their experience that they don’t know how to manage or shape it. They think they can write their way out of this problem, but that only compounds the problem. A memoir can’t be about an entire person’s life—it has to focus on an aspect of a person’s experience. What you leave out is as important as what you decide to include.

Related to this is the importance of structure. When an author doesn’t have a workable structure or organization, it’s like driving without a map. Or, to use an analogy that a writing teacher once told me, you set out rowing on the ocean and you lose sight of land. And you keep rowing, hoping to sight land on the other side. But pretty soon you realize you’re lost on the ocean and more rowing (or more writing) won’t get you back to land. Having an organization or structure at the start helps a writer from getting lost, especially in memoir writing, where the author has access to great amounts of information about her life, but often isn’t sure what to include or how to organize it.

 

Nancy: Are there any recent developmental editing projects that stand out for you that self-help mind/body/spirit or inspirational memoir writers could learn from? Any lessons you drew from these recent projects, or were reminded of?

 

Al: One lesson that always stands out is how gratifying the process can be, for both writer and editor. People have life experiences or ideas that they’ve always wanted to write about, but all authors encounter obstacles as they try to write about them. Right now I’m ghostwriting a memoir for a mother and son who were held captive for months by Islamic terrorists in the Philippines. It’s been a wonderful experience to help them create the book they’ve always wanted to write, a process that has also helped them to heal.

 

As a developmental editor and ghostwriter myself, I understand Al’s enthusiasm for helping people to tell stories that lead to healing for themselves and others. If you are eager to get unstuck in writing your memoir, consider contacting a professional, experienced developmental editor to get you back on track.

 

Al Desetta’s website, where you can learn more about his services and the kinds of books he has worked on, is www.AlDesetta.Com

 

 

One of my hats is ghostwriting, and I just made a little promotional video about this service. (For those of you thinking of creating videos of your own to promote your work, I made this using iMovie software, stock photographs, and royalty free music, for under $20: check out www.FootageFirm.com for music and video clips, and www.istockphoto.com and www.bigstockphoto.com for photographs. I began with a script, looked for photographs to illustrate my core ideas, and found appropriate music from my collection.).

Ghostwriting is a skill that requires you to be attuned to your client’s voice. When I ghostwrite, I fuss over transition words (would that client say “then too” or “moreover”?), adjectives, sentence structure, first- versus second- or third-person, and the rhythms of a person’s spoken voice. I read samples of their past writing and talk to them about what they liked or didn’t like about their voice in those samples. I have no defensiveness when they tweak my writing, and I encourage them to tell me, “I wouldn’t use that word” (oops, my bad!) or “I wouldn’t say it quite that way; there’s a nuance I have to explain to you.” I remember one client telling me years ago, “I am gentle with my readers because they have a great deal of embarrassment about their situations, so I never say ‘You should’ or start a sentence with ‘Don’t.'” Wow, was that helpful feedback!

 

I think that to be a good ghostwriter, you have to have a firm grasp of voice in your own writing.

 

Who is your audience, and how would you like them to perceive you? Voice should reflect the relationship you want to create between you, the writer, and your reader. It is not simply about what you want to say and how you want to say it. As a developmental editor, I’ve been known to point out places in an author’s book where I think his tone is a little off and needs to be tempered. I know some people think that if you write books using your own voice, you can’t successfully switch over to writing in someone else’s voice. This simply isn’t true. It’s really a matter of setting aside your ego and tuning in to the other person’s energy, personality, and styles of speaking and writing.

One of the advantages of having me ghostwrite their books, my clients have discovered, is that when they are suddenly asked to write something short-form on a deadline, I can jump in easily to do it for them, not just because I know their ideas and material but because I know how they like to sound on the page or screen. For a busy professional running workshops and seminars, having a ghostwriter available can be an incredible asset even after the book is written. Jumping in to that role when you don’t know a person and his voice well is much harder, I am sure!

I am feeling expansive of late and have news to share:

I now have a company called Wordmason Services, Inc. This new business will allow me to continue providing professional, quality services as I have for the last 20 or so years, just under a new umbrella. If you’re looking for a ghostwriter, book editor, or publishing consultant, I am happy to assist you.

I’ve freshened up my website, NancyPeske.com In the process, I have, unfortunately, lost the email addresses of newsletter subscribers. Please resubscribe on the upper right–I have some great advice to share with all of you, including helpful guidance on discovering the perfect publication date for your book.

I continue to Tweet as Nancy Peske, and I now have a Facebook page for myself as a professional ghostwriter, freelance editor, developmental editor, book doctor, and publishing consultant. You can find me under Nancy Peske, writer. Please join me there as I will be sharing links and advice. I encourage you to comment on my posts on Facebook and here.

Professional Ghostwriter and Editor Nancy Peske

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