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A book editor is not a ghost-writer

File pic: A person editing a book

IN dealing with first-time authors, I have made observations that some are not necessarily well versed with terminology related to publishing or the publishing process.

In their approach, some aspiring authors may have manuscripts which fall below the minimum threshold of word count in terms of content and expect an editor to magically fill in that content.

Wait, let me not beat around the bush. Some aspiring authors submit manuscripts with shallow content which lacks the depth that could qualify it for consideration to turn it into a book.

Other authors may have terrible manuscripts, which need lots of hard work, and expect the editor to do the magic and transform them into masterpieces. Well, it doesn’t always work that way.

Even upon being informed, some specifically insist that they do not need a ghost-writer but an editor. The logic behind such insistence is that an editor seems a bit cheaper option than hiring a ghost-writer to do the work on behalf of the author.

The above two scenarios are often misinformed approaches which I encounter. Shallow content and bad manuscripts need ghost-writers and not editors.

 It is normal though that for first time authors, the differences between a ghost-writer and an editor or a developmental editor can be quite confusing.

Editors who are good writers can perform ghost-writing functions as well if their specialty is developmental editing.

Towards the end of last year, I wrote an article explaining the role of a book editor including different types of editorial functions.

While there can be some overlaps between an editor and a ghost-writer, editors typically don’t do major rewrites. They may offer suggestions on how to improve sentences here or there but they would not necessarily write new passages for you. If they do that’s at the editor’s discretion in a developmental role although this has limitations, but in essence the area of rewriting new passages and sentences falls under the jurisdiction of a ghost-writer.

It is thus important not to mistake some roles of an editor for those of a ghost-writer.

To be blunt aspiring authors with shallow content or writing that is not so good should adequately take their time to research, write or get a coach to assist them in writing if they are not yet ready to meet the costs associated with hiring a ghost-writer.

In short, an editor works with content that’s already there whilst a ghost-writer creates new content altogether.

Functions of a ghost-writer

A ghost-writer writes a book for someone else who is usually the author who then takes the credit in return for monetary compensation. In this situation, the aspiring author would provide the information about their chapters to the ghost-writer after which he/she performs the actual writing of the chapters. The ghost-writer may gather the information through interviews, written materials, research, or a combination of all of these.

The ghost-writer also

  • Works with you on your book concept and outline;
  • Makes sure the book is structured properly
  • Makes sure each chapter is structured well;
  • Ensures overall clarity, flow, and readability
  • Presents you with a publishable book.

It is the ghost-writer and not an editor who is tasked with creating a book proposal for the author. This is a separate document that’s much like the business plan for your book.

Summarily people intending to self-publish should not rush the publication process if they are not yet financially prepared for the process or else they would need to go to traditional publishers who may take months to review the manuscript for publication.

Fungayi Antony Sox is a content writer,editor, ghostwriter,researcher,communication and publishing consultant at TisuMazwi–a communications-centredsocial enterprise based in Harare.For feedback contact him on +263 776 030 949, connect with him on LinkedIn on Fungayi Antony Sox or follow him on Twitter: @AntonySox

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