Many clients – and a number of writers – aren’t sure about the distinction between a ghostwriter and an editor.
So I’ve put together these brief lists outlining the specifics of each role in order to highlight the differences.
- A person who has completed a manuscript would hire an editor.
- The editor goes through the manuscript draft systematically, page by page.
- Each page is revised as needed, at the level required (light revisions to major changes).
- Light revisions may include correcting typos, substituting certain words with better choices, and fixing sentence structure here and there.
- Major changes may include revisions mentioned in #4 plus complete rewrites of large sections of text, and reorganizing portions of the manuscript (or possibly doing a complete reorganization of the draft prior to starting the page-by-page edits).
- An editor is often (but not always) acknowledged and free to discuss the project with others.
- Because she starts with a completed draft supplied by the client, the editor charges less than a ghostwriter would.
- Editors typically charge a lower fee for light editing and significantly more for an editing job that requires major revisions.
- A person who wants to author a book but has not yet written a manuscript would hire a ghostwriter.
- Prior to starting the writing portion of the project, the ghostwriter spends considerable time gathering information via various means, including interviewing the client by phone and/or email, collecting notes the client has written down, and researching the topic to be covered in the manuscript.
- Typically, the ghostwriter develops a book outline with the client before moving forward.
- Working from this mutually agreed upon outline, the ghostwriter begins the writing process, completing one chapter at a time.
- Before proceeding to write the next chapter, the ghostwriter generally waits for feedback from the client and makes needed revisions to the previously written material.
- A ghostwriter usually (but not always) cannot discuss the project with others and must adhere to a confidentiality agreement.
- Because she starts from scratch and must do a great deal of time-consuming work in many areas, including interviewing, researching, outlining, content development, writing, revising, editing, and proofreading, a ghostwriter charges considerably more than an editor does.
- A ghostwriter may charge varying fees based on the complexity of the subject being written about, the time it takes to do interviews and research, and how many revisions need to be done, among other factors.
So the next time somebody approaches you to edit or ghostwrite for them, find out what the person really needs. Factor in the time, complexity, workload, and duties involved. Then determine what your role would be – editor or ghostwriter – and charge accordingly.
If the client wants to hire you as a ghostwriter but can’t afford your ghostwriting fees, don’t lower your rates. Instead, switch roles. Suggest that he or she complete a manuscript first, which you can then edit (instead of ghostwrite) for an appropriately reduced fee.