What’s the difference between a book ghostwriter or coauthor, or a manuscript editor?
Book ghostwriter or coauthor?
Surely, there isn’t a major change when you move on from ghost writing to coauthor status? As far as the writing goes, there’s no difference. But in your association with your client, there’s a world of difference.
Whether you’re the book ghostwriter or coauthor, your job is to work with your client. You have to get her messages across. It’s a collaboration. You may take her input and write the entire book yourself, if you’re given this degree of freedom. Or it may end up a back and forth process. She gives you a rough draft, which you modify and send back.
What does my book ghostwriter or coauthor do?
She makes changes and additions and returns it. You edit her changes and add new material. And so it continues, each of you taking a turn until the final draft is done. And both of you are satisfied with the end result. As a co-author or ghostwriter, you follow this process. Or you develop whatever writing and revising process works best for you and your client.
Where the difference comes in is how your client regards you. If you are the invisible, unknown writer behind the scenes, you’re technically a ghostwriter. If you are a publicly known collaborator with the author, then you’re considered a coauthor. However, being a book ghostwriter or coauthor can mean you do both…while understanding the difference. You may run the byline, “As told to (your name)” underneath the author’s name on the book cover, for example. This implies that you ghost wrote the book. But that you achieved partial coauthor status.
Book ghostwriter or coauthor – what are the rules?
The biggest distinction between the two roles involves a not-so-trivial matter called confidentiality. Some authors who hire professional writers don’t want others to know they’re getting help. It’s a matter of image or perception. For various reasons, there’s a genuine need to be perceived as the sole creator of the book. These authors will seek out ghostwriters who know how to be discreet. For other authors, confidentiality isn’t an issue, so having a visible coauthor is perfectly acceptable.
A ghostwriter, then, must be adept at working behind the scenes. He must take confidentiality seriously, which means he can’t tell people who he’s writing for. As he’s not allowed to disclose the name of his client, nor the specifics of the project. When the book is published, he can’t claim any ownership or association. On his resume he can merely state generalities such as, “I ghost wrote a book about new gardening techniques.”
What is confidentiality when using a book ghostwriter or coauthor?
Your book ghostwriter can’t divulge the title of the book, or the name of the author. With a coauthor, secrecy is not required. Since the coauthor’s name is listed on the cover right next to the author’s name, there’s no need to hide the collaboration. On her resume, the coauthor is free to list the book title and author.
Before you embark on a book collaboration with a client, understand the confidentiality expectations. Can you talk openly about the project, or does your client expect you to keep things under wraps? Knowing these conditions beforehand will keep you from putting your foot in your mouth and ruining your reputation. As a professional writer, it’s your job to work out all terms. This includes confidentiality, and whether you’re considered a ghostwriter or a coauthor before you start writing.
Graciela S. is a ghostwriter, editor, copywriter, proofreader, and translator. She has ghostwritten 23 books plus many shorter works. In addition, she coauthored Dream It Do It: Inspiring Stories of Dreams Come True, now available as an eBook on Amazon. Also, she’s written more than 300 nonfiction articles under her own byline. For contact purposes, email Karen S Cole at Ghost Writer, Inc. Karen will put you in touch with her or another available ghostwriter, editor, marketer or other worker as needed. Thank you!
Book Ghostwriter or Coauthor