Today, we look at what your options are when writing and editing a book and the bigger picture of how to become an author. These endeavors—the journey of book writing and the resulting life of an author—are among the most cherished and rewarding of all. I make a point of emphasizing that to aspiring authors because so many find the process of sorting through all the options, the decision-making, and the work of actually writing WELL WORTH IT.
Full-service companies offer authors everything from collaborative book writing to ghostwriting, editing and more. For example, Writer Services accepts inquiries about any and all aspects of writing a book. We work with aspiring and established authors and entrepreneurs alike to determine which of our services will best achieve our clients’ goals.
Our services include:
Ghostwriting – You simply tell us what you want, and we take care of everything else. As explained in further detail below, your name (and your name only) appears on the cover of your book as the author. In other words, your writer remains anonymous.
Collaborative book writing – With this service, we work with you one-on-one through every step of the book writing journey. If you’d like to be more involved in the process of writing than what’s available through a ghostwriting service, this might be the perfect choice for you. You get to be involved as much or as little as you want.
Developmental editing – A more engaged, ongoing editing relationship throughout your book writing process is available through this particular service.
To most authors, this is an invaluable service because of the camaraderie between you and your editor. You have someone to rely on and trust in who will be very honest with you about the quality of your work and the effectiveness of your writing. Any doubts or reservations about your book are resolved.
You can look at this service as more collaboration than in ghostwriting and regular line editing, but less than in collaborative book writing.
Line Editing/Copy Editing – This is a high-quality editing service provided in a more traditional writer-editor relationship. Your material is checked for grammar and sentence structure.
Proofreading – We provide a service that puts the final polish on your work. S/he checks your manuscript for spelling, consistency of the use of punctuation marks and many other things these unsung heros do to make you look like a true professional.
Social media and traditional marketing – As a full-service firm, we also offer marketing of your book(s) using our social media and traditional marketing resources. Our marketing services are available at several price points to fit your budget and goals.
Ghostwriting is a writing service where a hired professional book writer, who remains unnamed, writes your book—using ideas and concepts provided by the hiring party—which is then credited to the payer/author.
A writing mentor works closely with you, offering their vast experience and unique insight. Every aspect of being a book writer and being an author is real to your mentor, because s/he is a seasoned book writer and experienced author.
You may find that you learn quite a lot just by working with them, such as their writing habits, theories, and even style, which is okay because those inevitably give way to your own preferences as you grow as an author.
To give you a clearer picture of writer/mentor dynamics, you might have a look at one or two unique depictions of the relationship in film.
The Only Living Boy in New York (2017) stars Jeff Bridges as a successful author who stumbles into the mentorship of a young man who is his neighbor.
Adult World (2013) stars John Cusack as the reluctant mentor of a young woman who admires him greatly.
Although these portrayals aren’t typical, they offer a sense of the personal interactions that create the mentor-author bond.
“The life of an author is often portrayed as strictly independent—a one-person show. But, did you know that working with a mentor is one of the best gifts you can give your own writing? Even the great philosopher Plato had a mentor in Socrates. Plato, in turn, mentored Aristotle. Great minds seek other great minds to improve their work.”
WRITING COACH / WRITER COACH
Writing coaches (or writer coaches) differ from writing mentors in the type of relationship they offer to the author.
The writing coach is not necessarily an author themselves, and their role is more like that of a motivator. They’re not the same as a life coach, though, in that they usually have some experience with editing and/or another facet of writing.
Accountability, inspiration and motivation are the tools of the writing coach’s trade. You might find that the interactions with your writing coach are less personal and deep than those with a mentor. Still, without question, to have someone to answer to is better than having no one at all.
There are a great variety of writing lessons and classes available online and off. These, of course, can be taken alone or as part of a coaching or mentoring program. They might come in the form of:
1. Writing prompts – Prompts are challenges and/or ideas you can use to jump-start your daily writing practice.
2. Creative writing classes – Just about every university, community college, and adult continuing education program offers a course on creative writing. Almost all of them also offer the course(s) virtually.
3. Membership websites – With the recent boom in online learning due to the pandemic, we may begin to see more membership training sites showing up. Though there aren’t many out there to date, we are extremely proud to announce our own membership website for authors! You can get more information about how you can have ongoing guidance for literally just pennies a day. It’s called Author Utopia. See it by clicking the following link: https://www.authorutopia.com
4. Vocabulary expansion – Words are the endless variety of colors available to squeeze onto your writer’s palette. The greater your vocabulary, the better you will do at expressing your ideas in compelling and varied language.
Reading is one great way to expand your knowledge of words, but there are dozens of other ways, too. Online tools such as dictionaries and thesauruses provide vast opportunities for learning. You might also try a quick search for “vocabulary expander” and/or “vocabulary tests”.
5. Reading for writing – In my own experience, I find reading an excellent lubricant for writing. The published word has a certain power to condition an author’s mind towards better writing. As you read, you learn the music of well-written phrases. Like a catchy tune, this music stays with you as you write. You write more and more, eventually finding your own unique voice and your own “songs.”
Also, reading improves your vocabulary. This is proven. Some wise writers keep a list of words they don’t know and look them up after a session of reading. In these ways, reading is one of the best activities to improve your own writing.
6. Journaling prompts – In journals, you’re writing the true story of your life as you experience it or shortly thereafter. You can see how this practice can help you develop your own authentic voice as an author. As with creative writing prompts, there exist many sites that offer prompts for journaling.
6. Editing classes – Editing isn’t just a task, it’s an art. Writer and editors (especially) must look at manuscripts with a critical eye. Is a phrase redundant? Delete it. Can a different word provide pleasant alliteration? Use that word instead. Clarity, efficiency, inventiveness—all these and more are the goals of excellent editing.
7. Grammar and punctuation – A good writer is never done learning and relearning the rules of writing. Just as a jazz musician must learn their basic scales before launching into improvisation, an author must know the rules thoroughly before they break them.
8. Journalism and blogging – These two types of writing have ethics and rules of their own. It’s worthwhile to familiarize yourself with these even if they’re not your specialties. It’s likely that some of the practices and skills involved in journalism and/or blogging will translate to an aspect of your future writing processes.
9. Research and writing – Research is another rewarding endeavor for writers. When researching a topic—any topic at all—you might gain all types of ideas and inspiration for your book. Depending on what you’re writing, research could account for a large percentage of your time working. For example, non-fiction books generally require extensive research into the real people and actual events you’re writing about.
10. Poetry workshops – Here’s a double-power tool for improving your work. Writing poetry hones your senses of efficiency, rhythm, and tone, as well as aiding your creativity and inventiveness. Workshops offer contact and interaction with other writers, and everyone usually emerges from them better editors.
11. Character creation and development – Classes are also available for specific aspects of the fiction-writing process. Think of the value of well-developed, three-dimensional characters to a good novel. Learning this skill can go a long way in making you an effective writer.
12. Fiction for beginners – On the other hand, you might not be ready to dive into in-depth classes on specific techniques. Fiction lessons for beginners are great ways to dip your toe in the water and get a feel for the process and promise of a professional writing career. Make all the mistakes you want! In beginners classes, you’re free from the pressures you might feel elsewhere. In the meantime, you’re getting solid footing for the next steps towards authorship of a book.
13. Advanced writing – Maybe you’ve already taken many of the classes I’ve listed above. Maybe you’ve even written a book or two. Your learning isn’t done! Advanced classes offer learning opportunities to authors who are ready to accept the next higher challenge.
BOOK EDITING SERVICES
“Writing is editing,” is an old adage that holds true today. Editing affords your work a reader, among other benefits. A reader/editor who is not the author often facilitates the best results. Writing is communication, and communication is always a two-way street. You want to make sure that what you’re writing is as close as possible in clarity, meaning, and tone to what the reader perceives.
We often think of editing as work done exclusively after a book is written. That isn’t the case at all. In fact, editing often begins in earnest at the beginning of your second draft. So, it’s useful to think of editing as much more than polishing a completed draft.
Working with a developmental editor, for instance, is a fantastic way to refine ideas as you go along. You might find that this type of editing service helps put you on the writing path that you were seeking all along.
Working with a developmental editor means having a working relationship, including dynamics both personal and professional, with an experienced author with whom you feel comfortable. This type of editor guides you towards not only improving your writing but also clarifying and defining your message. Think of this person as just one step shy of a mentor. In fact, a developmental editor can become your mentor under certain circumstances. The definitions are not set in stone, but usually a mentor is more invested in you as a writer. This makes sense because the relationship with a mentor can last a lifetime while a developmental editor is usually on board for one of your book projects at a time.
All these resources, services, and tools can be mixed and matched to fit your goals and needs. I hope that with this article I’ve given you a clearer picture of some of the pathways and work-ways available to burgeoning and established writers. Now it’s up to you to choose the first (or next) step in your journey as an author.
“Mark Twain once said, ‘Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.’ And with that, the great American humorist leaves us back at square one. In a way, he was talking about editing. A subject so broad that a good author is almost always studying it. Fortunately, the resources available to you are also almost endless.”