A ghostwriter writes the whole book, and usually does the research
for it. The ghost's name may appear on the cover in a secondary
position, as: "Bill Famous with Joe Ghost."
In collaboration, you and the writer/editor work together to write
the book. It's a cooperative effort, with either you or the editor
(usually you) writing a basic draft and then passing the draft back
and forth until you're both satisfied. This term also applies when
two writers cooperate to write a book.
Normally, the collaborator's name appears in a secondary position,
"Bill Primary Author and Joe Collaborator."
In collaboration, the primary author may pay the collaborator (a
"Work Made for Hire" under copyright law, for which there must be a
written contract or the collaborator owns half the revenues of the
book), there may be a deal to share revenues of the book (also a
written agreement), or there may be a combination of up-front
payment plus a share of later revenues.
Developmental editing is a relatively new term, originating, I
believe, in educational/textbook publishing, where the person who is
expert in what a textbook needs to teach may not be a particularly
good writer, or may be an excellent writer for a PhD committee but
not for students encountering the ideas for the first time--which is
how we need to view all books. I like the term--it describes quite
accurately what I and most editors do for their clients.
Developmental editing covers what New York editors used to do before
multinational conglomerates started buying up publishing houses and
demanding higher profits--which they achieved by cutting the
In developmental editing, the editor works with the author to
"develop" the book and the ideas it contains, make certain the
chapters are in the right sequence, that the ideas are presented
effectively, that the line-by-line writing is clean and clear, etc.
Functionally, developmental editing covers a very large ballpark,
including aspects of ghostwriting, collaborating, writing,
rewriting, and copyediting. Essentially, any time an editor does
more than a copyedit, he or she moves into the area of developmental
Most of the work I do falls into this category. It is usually "Work
Made for Hire," which essentially means that I own copyright in all
work I do until the client pays me. When I'm paid, the client is the
sole owner of copyright in the resulting material and I have no
further financial rights or interest in the book. The type and level
of work to be done is discussed in advance and as the project
The categories below are aspects of developmental editing, but need
to be discussed as separate functions, all of which can be part of
Developmental editing usually involves rewriting. That may mean
rewriting small or large sections of a manuscript, or rewriting an
Rewriting includes major or minor rewriting of existing books, up to
creating an entirely new book based on the author's existing book.
Rewrites normally take less time and cost less that writing a new
book. When an existing book is on disk, it saves time.
I do not do transcriptions!
If your existing book, manuscript, or notes need to be transcribed
to disk prior to edit or rewrite, it's cheaper and more efficient to
use a specialist.
A broad gray area separates rewriting from line editing. Which one
is being done may depend on the attitude of client and writer.
If I view a job as a line edit, I will do more limited work than if
I see the job as a rewrite.
Line editing usually involves looking at the line-by-line flow of
the text and cleaning up the sentence structure of the book rather
than making extensive changes. It's not uncommon to line-edit most
of a book, but rewrite selected parts and/or add sections as needed.
I do not do copyediting or proofreading. Lura does, see below.
Copyediting is a specific and narrow term and skill. Strictly
speaking, a copyeditor does no more than assure that the manuscript
is grammatically correct, though today most copyeditors (and Lura)
go well beyond that.
The primary purpose of a copyedit is to assure that no mistakes
remain in the manuscript, whether of spelling or grammar, or in the
misspelling of a well-known name, for example, referring to the
hamburger chain as MacDonalds instead of McDonald's.
The secondary purpose is to assure that the author(s) and the ghost
didn't drop any words, use the wrong word, or otherwise make any of
the infinite number of dumb errors that can slip by a careful
reading of one's own copy.
It's a basic rule in writing (and it applies to editing as well)
that you cannot copyedit your own material.
You, and your developmental editor, collaborator, or ghostwriter,
know what you intended to write and may miss the fact that you
dropped a word or made some other error.
Your mind knows you wrote, "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy
dog," so your eye doesn't see that you actually put on paper, "The
quick brown fix jumped over lazy fog."
Among writers, we call particularly ghastly typos "howlers," as in,
once we've caught them we can laugh, vigorously! My personal
favorite, from a novel that never flew, was a scene where my
protagonist was being entertained privately at the White House, and
noted the First Lady's "never in public smile." And, at about the
fourth or fifth reference to that smile, it became "never in pubic!"
Arrgggghhh! Classic example of the need for copyediting. Fortunately,
I caught that one on about the fifth editing read.
The copyeditor's job is to protect you (and me) from such
embarrassing boo-boo's that spell-checkers won't catch and
grammar-checking programs usually slide right past. You can count on
it: Any manuscript of any length will have one or more of these
Without good copyediting, it seems to be a law of nature (or Murphy)
that when you get your book back from the printer and open it to any
page at random, your eye will instantly spot a typo, glaring at you
like a flashing neon sign.
The copyeditor also looks at the flow of the manuscript and whether
the text makes sense. If the copyeditor doesn't understand what we
wrote, chances are the reader won't, either. This can result in
significant rewriting of lines, paragraphs, or sections, and may
make necessary a second copyedit of the changed material.
Yes, I am a fervent believer in top-notch copyediting.
When books are set by typesetters instead of printed from carefully
edited and copyedited computer disks, the proofreader has the job of
comparing every line of the original manuscript to the typeset copy.
Like copyediting, this was and is a very narrow but highly essential
skill. Like good copyeditors, really good proofreaders are rare.
Do you need a proofreader today, when most self-published books are
produced from computer disk or camera-ready printout? Yes!
Copyediting is done on the manuscript, before design, layout and
Proofreading is done on the typeset layout of the book; the form in
which the reader will see it. Desktop publishing or electronic
typesetting minimizes, but does not eliminate, the possibility of
errors between manuscript and typeset book.
My experience is that most clients read through the printout of the
copyedited and typeset book and find additional changes they wish to
make. These changes are usually minor, but can be extensive enough
to create the possibility of additional errors.
It's amazingly easy for a subhead to land at the bottom of a page
with no text under it, or for the final page of a chapter to have
only one line or, worse, one word. Those are just a few of the
layout problems that may slip past the book designer/layout artist
(who also knows what he or she intended to put on the page).
For computer-typeset books, the proofreader serves the old functions
of the job plus new ones of checking to assure that the layout has
no problems. Yes, I firmly believe in good proofreading, too!
The appearance of a book can make the difference between a sold copy
and a copy that remains on the shelf.
Covers--which I do not do--are crucial, but the interior layout and
design are equally important. While the cover makes the potential
reader/buyer pick up the book--yes, it pays to spend money on a good
cover!--interior typography that looks shoddy, amateurish, or hard
to read may turn off potential buyers who get far enough to pick up
Interior layout and design can be done in two ways, depending on
your needs, budget, and printer.
I strongly recommend that your book be designed and typeset by a
talented graphic artist (with the emphasis on artist).
On the artistic level, they can make a book's appearance absolutely
sing to a reader.
On the practical level, my recent experience is that more and more
printers want to print from disk rather than hard copy. They need
the disk in a format matching their programs, usually specialized
page layout and design programs like Quark Express, PageMaker, or
Illustrator. They often use only the Mac versions. A book designed
in some other program will lose all the formatting that made the
layout possible, and my time and your money spent on it will be
If your book is heavy on graphics, illustrations and/or photos,
design by a graphic artist is mandatory. If you expect your book to
remain in print, unchanged, for a number of years and through a
number of reprintings, the cost of a graphic designer is money well
If your book doesn't need this level of perfection, and if your
printer will work from hard copy, WordPerfect files, or text-only
files, I can do layout and design directly in WordPerfect 10, which
has extensive layout capabilities. I can scan graphics, forms,
charts, etc., and add them to the manuscript. If your book needs
frequent updates, design in WordPerfect can save you time and
money--if your printer can use it.
The disadvantage of layout in WordPerfect, and this is a major
disadvantage, is that it does not have the capabilities of a
full-featured design program. It does a fine job as far as it goes,
but has its limits--and it doesn't convert well to the Mac-based
design programs used by printers.
We'll discuss your needs and the requirements of your project.
Newsletters and Articles
Everything that's been said about books applies to these projects,
just on a smaller scale. Small projects take a little longer, if you
figure the cost on a per-word or per-page basis. Shorter texts have
less space in which to convey their message, so they need extra
attention to assure that every word is used to maximum
I've managed projects involving both in-house staff and freelancers.
If your project requires the work of more than one writer, needs
coordination with people on your staff, etc., we'll talk about your
specific needs and requirements.
In the course of a book project, I may coordinate the work of the
copyeditor, proofreader graphic artist and printer.