If you sit down and try to come up with a definition of ghostwriter, you may find it trickier than you ever imagined.
The ghostwriter might appear to be the same thing as a book doctor, a book coach, or an editor because, in the end, they all share the same goal—helping you write a book that’s well organized, clear, interesting, and a great read.
In truth, however, these roles are very different. So what exactly is the definition of ghostwriter, and how do you distinguish the ghost from these other writing professionals?
Taking it one step further, when should you turn to one of them instead of another?
To find out, let’s take a closer look at each one.
The simplest definition of ghostwriter is the person who actually writes your book for you. You don’t have to commit a single word to paper; your ghost will do it all for you.
Your job is to provide the ideas, experiences, and point of view for your book. Your ghostwriter, in turn, will organize, develop, and shape your material, fill in the blank spaces, create the rest of the book’s content, and produce a finished manuscript.
Naturally, you’ll need to review the drafts to make corrections or additions. But you really won’t need to do any writing at all; your ghost will do it for you.
The Developmental Editor
The developmental editor is the person who goes to work on your completed (or nearly-completed) manuscript when it doesn’t quite work. For example, maybe your manuscript lacks focus and/or organization. Maybe there are areas that need further development or contain language that needs to be sharpened. Maybe certain sections are overwritten and need to be trimmed.
A developmental editor is both an organizer and a troubleshooter. She will analyze your manuscript, ask pertinent questions, give you constructive criticism, perhaps reorganize some or all of your manuscript, and may rewrite certain sections.
The Book Coach
A book coach is a consultant who can advise you at any point during the book writing process, but does not do any actual writing. She can provide crucial advice and direction on a wide range of topics, from refining your initial book idea to maximizing marketability; from choosing the best format for your manuscript to producing clear, compelling copy; from finding an agent to working your way through the self-publishing process.
The book coach’s professional expertise can help you navigate the often treacherous and confusing paths that lead from book idea all the way to finished product.
There are three kinds of editors: developmental editor, line editor, and copy editor.
The developmental editor is essentially a “book doctor” who looks for big problems in the manuscript, such as poor organization, missing information, faulty logic, or gaps in the text. Then you (or your ghostwriter) will need to fix them.
The line editor focuses on writing style and language, ensuring that the reading experience is seamless and enjoyable. Are your words used precisely and for maximal impact? Do they convey the necessary tone and emotions?
The copy editor checks your finished manuscript for errors in spelling and grammar, as well as redundancies and omissions, and ensures that the writing style is consistent throughout. Every manuscript will need a good copy editor!
Definition of a Ghostwriter, et al.
Which professional you should hire depends on how far along you are in the book writing process. Maybe you’re still at stage one, wondering if your idea might translate into a great book. Or maybe you’ve started to write, but have found the process difficult, if not impossible. Or maybe you have a completed manuscript that needs help.
Whatever your situation, rest assured that there is a writing professional who is ready and willing to assist!
To learn more about ghostwriters and ghostwriting, see “Finding and Working With a Ghostwriter.”