Ghostwriting, as the name suggests, implies that the actual writer is unknown or not acknowledged. In other words, a ghostwriter pens a book for someone else, and that “someone else” gets credit for it.
What do ghostwriting and editing have in common?
Ghostwriting turns a writer’s raw manuscript (notes, research, etc.) into a polished book. Working from whatever material the “author” provides, the ghostwriter develops the topic (or story) and creates a smooth, cohesive, interesting—perhaps even compelling—book that could become a bestseller, for which the “author” (a.k.a. employer) takes credit.
Substantive editing addresses a number of the same areas: flow, continuity, holes, gluts of unnecessary information and information dumps, reordering (or even removing) text, rewriting, and so forth. This work parallels much of what the ghostwriter does when sorting through, researching, ordering, and presenting the “writer’s” information.
Despite the absense of real-writer credit, ghostwriting is not without its rewards. Many celebrities and other well-known persons want to write a book, but circumstances (lack of time or writing ability for example) dictate that they hire a ghostwriter. This type of writing pays very well—minimally more that $10,000 and perhaps even over $100,000 per project. That’s tempting money for writers who are struggling with sales their own works to make ends meet.
For authors who want or need to consider a ghostwriter—or for any who may be interested in becoming a ghostwriter—one or more of the following Web sites may be helpful. This list does not constitute a recommendation, but rather offers source material that needs to be evaluated by the writer.
Linda Lane is a writer/editor/publisher who promotes excellence in independently published and self-published books. Editor and designer of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association newsletter, she urges all writers to work with a competent editor before taking their books to press.