Do you want to hire a ghostwriter who can turn your story and the lessons you have learned into a book? If so, you need to know what a ghostwriter does, what a developmental editor does, and which would work better for you at this stage of your process when you are just beginning to conceptualize your book.
What a ghostwriter and developmental editor both do:
–Conceptualize your book based on conversations or what you have written so far.
–Guide you on whether or not to hire a ghostwriter or do the writing yourself, perhaps with some coaching.
Let’s look at each of these from the perspective of a would-be author who has only written a few pages of her story and just begun to think about the lessons she has learned and how she wants her book to get into the hands of readers.
Conceptualizing your book. Everybody has a story in them, but do they have a book in them? What is a book? A full-length book, from a publisher’s point of view, is between 50,000 and 100,000 words. Books are getting smaller than ever, and a self-help book, a book of life lessons, and a memoir is likely to be closer to 70,000 or 80,000 words than 100,000. A mini book you self-publish might be 10,000 to 30,000 words, or even shorter. If you write a very short book, you have to consider whether it will look like a book once it is bound into paperback form. You might want to create a mini book as a PDF or ebook only.
If you start writing even one chapter of your book, completing 6000 or so words, and you write a chapter outline that explains in a paragraph or so what is in each chapter, you will have a much easier time communication to a potential ghostwriter or developmental editor what your vision for your book is. You can also pay this professional to talk to you over the phone about what you need to do next to bring your book from a vision into a reality. However, until you have written something they can read, how are they supposed to know whether you need a ghostwriter or just a developmental editor who can perhaps coach you with the writing? Time is money! Convey your information and idea to a ghostwriter or developmental editor quickly, in writing, via email to get started.
Guiding you on who should do the writing. A ghostwriter will probably not write every single word of your book, just most of them! She might want to work from some drafts or essays you have written to get a sense of what your voice on the page should sound like. She will also want to interview you and get a sense of the rhythm of your speaking voice, the words you use, and your personality. You and your ghostwriter will work out the best way for you to communicate information to her and the best way to work together to get the book written in your voice.
If you hire a developmental editor, she will expect you to write the bulk of your book, with guidance from her on structure, voice, tone, word choice, and even grammar and punctuation. For example, as a developmental editor, I have guided authors on overuse of certain words and tone that feels wrong for the author’s brand and personality (for example, language that is too judgmental, with words like “should” and “must” instead of “you might” or “we all sometimes”). I have pointed out when language is vague and noted words that should be cut out (“in life” is almost never necessary). A line editor or copyeditor can make these changes in a later draft, but it is less expensive to make them yourself with gentle guidance from a developmental editor.
Charging money. The world is filled with interesting stories. Talented, highly skilled writers see stories everywhere. Many of them could write a fascinating story about what happened last Saturday when they were with friends! However, if a professional listens to your story, unpaid, and writes your story, unpaid, and writes your book, unpaid, that ghostwriter or developmental editor will have to live on air, dreams, and promises of getting paid “someday” from strangers! A professional ghostwriter or developmental editor gets paid, up front, to begin work, and gets paid for work that is done. She does not simply work on speculation of future earnings. What do professional ghostwriters charge? Prices vary, but generally, $35,000 and up depending on the scope of the work and their experience. What do professional developmental editors charge? Less, depending on the scope of the work and their experience.
How do you get started hiring a ghostwriter or a developmental editor to help you conceptualize your book and guide you about the writing? Convey what you are looking for, your budget, and what you have done already to conceptualize and write your book. You can do that by email to make it more convenient for the ghostwriter or developmental editor you would like to approach. After all, this professional probably hears, “I have a great story and want to write a book to help others!” nearly every day. Do some work conceptualizing and writing your book and a description of it, even if it’s just a few pages of a chapter and an overview of the book and a biography of yourself.
So, in some, before you call, before you email, stop, start thinking about what your book might look like, and then just write. Write!
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