Finding the Right Editor or Ghostwriter

Most business owners who write a book do so to enable them to gain greater credibility. Yet, if a book doesn’t read well or contains errors, the reader is not going to view the author favorably no matter how good the content is. That’s why it is so critical to have your book professionally edited and proofread before you publish it.

Art Lizza, an independent freelance ghostwriter and developmental editor who has ghostwritten or edited over 30 books in the past nine years, joined me on the September SkillBites Show to provide some guidance on finding the right editor and ghostwriter for your book. Art explained that there are different levels of editing, so it is important to make sure that when you are comparing quotes from editors, they are providing the same level of service. The most basic level of editing is copy editing, which is ensuring that a manuscript comports with a given style, such as Chicago style, as well as cross-checking references and correcting grammatical errors. The most complete form of editing is a developmental edit, which consists of improving the flow of text, making suggestions to make a book most interesting to the readership, and polishing it so the author shines. In between is line editing.

Proofreading is different from editing in that an editor is not specifically looking for typos or misplaced apostrophes and commas. While editors often do find and correct those, they aren’t likely to find as many as proofreaders. One of SkillBites’ authors was contemplating whether to purchase proofreading services, since she had used an editor for her book who had been recommended. Ultimately, she was very glad she chose to order the proofreading services, as the proofreader found over 40 errors in her 100-page book.

When looking for an editor or ghostwriter, pay attention to the questions the prospective editor or ghostwriter asks. In either case, they should inquire about your goals for the book, for instance. Find out how much experience they have with the subject matter. If they know very little about the subject, they likely won’t be able to point out issues or make suggestions that could have been made by someone with that expertise. A few other factors that are key to hiring the right editor or ghostwriter are whether they are enthusiastic about your topic and whether there’s a good fit or rapport; whether you like and trust each other.

To find editors and ghostwriters, you can use the Editorial Freelancers Association website, or sites such as Upworks. Alternatively, if you don’t want to spend the time and effort to search for and interview prospects and call references, you can contact SkillBites. We’ve vetted our editors and ghostwriters so you’ll get highly professional people working on your manuscript.

Ghostwriting is an area that many people are still uncertain about, as it seems wrong to claim authorship of something that someone else has written. Art shared that over 40% of non-fiction books are actually ghostwritten! Ghostwriting is not that different from hiring an accountant to do your taxes – the accountant takes your information and fills out your tax return. A ghostwriter takes your information and writes your book. Using a ghostwriter is much quicker and results in a much higher quality book. For a 100 to 120 page book, which Art identified as the sweet spot for today’s non-fiction books, the author need only spend about 10 to 12 hours of her time in interviews with the ghostwriter, plus some time to review manuscripts, and a draft can be ready in a few months, as opposed to the many frustrating hours of writing and months of delay while the author is trying to write a book while running a business.

Art encouraged all business owners to write a book. Authors are instantly perceived as experts, and business owners can gain credibility and visibility when they publish a book. There are many forums online that offer help and SkillBites has an online book writing course as well as book coaching services. For more information about Art Lizza, visit his website at artlizza.com or email him at artlizza@embarqmail.com.

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